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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)

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

  • Cuthbert (deceased) v Taylor Woodrow Construction Holdings [2022] EWHC 3036 (KB), in which the court dismissed a claim for mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos in the late 1950s, a period during which employers have been considered historically not to have sufficient knowledge of the risks of exposure to low levels of asbestos for liability to attach. This claimant contended that the defendant should have taken all reasonably practicable steps to further reduce the risk of injury. Permission has now been granted to appeal to the Court of Appeal
  • PSV HAVS/CTS Litigation: defending numerous claims for HAVS/CTS by employees using a particular tool an extremely high vibration signature to fit windows in the road, rail and coach industries
  • Airbus HAVS/CTS Litigation: defending numerous claims for HAVS/CTS by employees in the Aircraft industry
  • Pye v Airbus UK PLC: 2022: trial heard remotely by Her Honour Judge Howells over 2 days. Successful defence of claim for CTS.
  • Warwick v Springfield Home Care Services Ltd judgment of HHJ Belcher Leeds County Court 30 June 2022. Successful defence of claim for dermatitis and psychiatric injury allegedly caused by exposure to cleaning fluids
  • Culff v Wilcox Commercial Vehicles Ltd 2022: claim for an extremely rare condition known as aluminium pneumoconiosis allegedly caused by exposure to welding fumes over a period of 20 years or so. The condition is so rare that only 2 cases have ever been reported in the medical literature
  • LGR v Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police 2022: this is one of a number of cases involving claims against various Police Authorities where claimant Police Officers allege psychiatric injury caused by exposure to child related pornographic material in the course of their investigations into criminal activities
  • Henderson v Airbus UK PLC: 2022: trial heard remotely by Her Honour Judge Howells over 2 days. Successful defence of claim for CTS
  • Eamon Collum -v- William Cradden & Mrs Shirley Cradden & Unsworth Ltd & Fire Doors Ltd: 2021: claim for nasal cancer allegedly caused by exposure to wood dust over several decades during his employment with 3 different employers
  • 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 4addressing 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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  • LLB, Nottingham University (1985)


  • Personal Injury Bar Association
  • Professional Negligence Bar Association


“Catherine Foster is an extremely thorough operator, a terrifically tenacious advocate who is extremely hard-working and a pleasure to deal with.”… “She’s extremely good at dealing with live evidence whether that’s expert or lay witnesses. She’s a very effective cross-examiner.”

Chambers & Partners, 2024

“Catherine’s advocacy is outstanding. She has an ability to secure results that surpass all reasonable expectation.”

Legal 500, 2024

“Catherine is a formidable, tenacious advocate. She impresses clients and delivers commercially successful results without fail.” “She has excellent attention to detail and appreciates the commercial reality of dealing with claims.”

Chambers & Partners, 2023

‘Catherine is an outstanding advocate with a superior ability to analyse the key issues; the results from hearings that Catherine deals with often exceed expectations.’

Legal 500, 2023

“Her advocacy is robust, clinical and to the point. She is sensitive to the specific goals and ethos of the client as well as having a solid understanding of legal and commercial risk.”

Chambers & Partners, 2023

“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

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