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Catherine Foster

Call 1986

“An incredible advocate with an innate ability to construct a logical and persuasive legal argument.”
(Legal 500, 2022)

Industrial Disease

Catherine is instructed in many aspects of occupational and environmental disease litigation, in particular claims involving asbestos related conditions, asthma, pneumoconiosis, cancers (including bladder cancer), carbon monoxide exposure, back injuries, beat knee, upper limb disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), chemical exposure (COSHH claims), noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), dermatitis, silicosis, deep vein thrombosis, Legionnaire’s disease, food poisoning, norovirus, pneumonitis and radiation exposure. She has been involved in emerging areas of disease litigation for over 25 years and is regularly instructed to provide advice on generic issues such as diagnosis, causation, etiology and apportionment.

Selected Cases

  • Bowe v Mersey Rewinds Engineering Ltd. & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 72:in which the Court held that infrequent and transitory exposures to vibration above daily guidance threshold limits did not give rise to a foreseeable risk of injury at common law
  • Davies and 8 others v Essex County Council and Havering College and Governing Body of the Sawyers Hall College [2018]: instructed on behalf of 9 Claimants who recovered damages for injuries arising from carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Swift and others v Fred Olsen Cruise Lines [2016] EWCA Civ 785: instructed by the Defendant in this multi-party action arising from an outbreak of norovirus on its cruise ship ‘Boudicca’
  • Baker v Quantum Clothing [2011] UKSC 17; [2011] 1 W.L.R. 1003; [2011] 4 All E.R. 223): multi-party action arising from the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire NIHL litigation
  • AB and Others v MOD ‘The Atomic Veterans Litigation’ [2012] UKSC 9 and ECHR application no. 61332/12; [2012] 2 W.L.R. 643; [2012] 3 All E.R. 673; [2012] P.I.Q.R. P13; [2012] Med. L.R. 306; (2012) 125 B.M.L.R. 69; (2012) 109(22) L.S.G. 19; (2012) 156(11) S.J.L.B. 31; Times, March 27, 2012: test cases on limitation issues in which the Court considered the correct approach to ‘knowledge’ for the purpose of section 14 of the Limitation Act 1980 and the exercise of discretion under section 33: instructed by 1011 Claimants who alleged adverse consequences to health resulting from exposure to ionising radiation from nuclear tests carried out in the South Pacific at Christmas Island by the British Government in the late 1950s, early 1960s;
  • Philips v Haxton [2014] EWCA Civ 4: addressing a novel claim for damages for the loss of a cause of action arising in the context of mesothelioma claims
  • Whalley v Montracon Ltd [2005] EWCA Civ 1383: on the issues of diagnosis in claims for HAVS
  • Airbus Operations Ltd: advising on numerous issues in the in the management of large numbers of ongoing claims for HAVS and CTS
  • Minimal loss NIHL: advising on a range of generic and case specific issues, including complex costs issues in the context of multi-party litigation
  • Asbestos related injuries: advising Insurers and attending hearings on a regular basis on a range of issues in the handling of asbestos litigation, including show cause applications, quantum hearings and taking evidence on commission
  • Norovirus and food poisoning claims: advising various hotels/restaurants and cruise ship operators on an ongoing basis in respect of claims arising from food poisoning/norovirus
  • Other selected group actions and multi-party litigation: has been instructed by Claimants and Defendants in a number of Group Actions including:
  • (2015-2017): represented Fred Olsen in its defence of claims for injuries caused by norovirus on its cruise ships
  • (2006-2013): represented Courtaulds Plc in the Nottinghamshire Derbyshire noise induced hearing loss
  • Group test case litigation involving a cohort of several thousand Claimants seeking compensation for exposure to excessive noise whilst employed in the textile industry
  • (1994-2013): represented the DTI in its HAVS litigation arising from the liabilities of British Coal Corporation involving a cohort of 160,000 Claimants; instructed as junior Counsel in the substantive litigation in 1994 and 1996; instructed in the Court of Appeal on 5 occasions to address issues arising in the context of the litigation; appearing in the High Court on at least 3 occasions per annum over a 10 year period to address issues arising in the management of the CHA; advised upon and contributed to the drafting of the claims handling arrangement (which eventually led to payments in damages and costs estimated at £3 billion)
  • British Coal Corporation HAVS claims [2006] EWHC 1131; [2006] EWHC 1154; [2006] EWCA Civ 1357 and 2008] EWHC 69: concerning the administration of the DBERR Claims Handling Agreement for coal miners hand arm vibration syndrome claims
  • (1994-2011): represented the DTI in its noise induced hearing loss litigation arising from the liabilities of British Coal Corporation
  • (2008-2011): represented Gallaher PLC in its noise induced hearing loss litigation (cigarette and cigar making processes) involving a cohort of 300 Claimants
  • (2005/2007): represented UK Coal Mining PLC in the miners’ ‘Beat Knee’ litigation
  • (2005/2007): represented Scania (UK) Limited in its back injury litigation arising from allegations of poorly designed lorry cabs involving a cohort of several hundred Claimants
  • (2004/2006): represented Montracon Limited in its HAVS litigation involving a cohort of 120 Claimants
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“Absolutely superb in her field. She is a sophisticated, tough and clever negotiator with excellent client care skills. She is also a collaborative and thoughtful team player.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“An incredible advocate with an innate ability to construct a logical and persuasive legal argument.”

Legal 500, 2022

“Someone you want fighting your corner. Faultless expertise, practical, analytical style and great responsiveness and ability to adapt to client needs.”

Legal 500, 2021

“A formidable tactician and a real team player who really knows her stuff.” “She is excellent in cross-examinations.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“A tenacious and very clever advocate; she knows when to take points and when to leave them.”; “One of the best trial advocates in the market. She won’t let go of a witness once she has hold of them and has a very strong grasp of the evidence.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020

“She has a wealth of experience and very good attention to detail.”

Chambers & Partners, 2019

“An erudite advocate who cross-examines with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Very good on cases where there are credibility issues.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

“A mature and sophisticated performer who has an incredibly high success rate on difficult cases.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

Nominated ‘Personal Injury Junior of the Year’

(Chambers & Partners 2012 and 2013)

She has an established reputation across both disease and accident litigation and is “a reliably strong and insistent advocate” and “experienced in disease and occupational stress cases.” and “an excellent trial advocate with great expertise in disease cases”

"Leader at the Bar" in Personal Injury: Industrial Disease (Chambers & Partners 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016)

“A tough advocate and a tough opponent”, “a very direct and incisive operator, who is very strong at negotiating and good on her feet. When it needs to be a bit of a fight she’s someone you welcome in your corner”, “tough, thorough and skilled cross-examiner”, “a fearsome opponent who knows how to stealthily deliver the killer punch” and as “one of the finest senior juniors in the country.”

"Leader at the Bar" in Personal Injury (Chambers & Partners 2013, 2014 and 2015)

“Her advocacy is first-rate and she is one of the best cross-examiners” and “a consummate performer in court’. Solicitors have “no hesitation” in using Catherine Foster “in cases which might otherwise be taken by silks.”

"Leading Junior" in Personal Injury (Legal 500 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012)

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