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Isabel Hitching KC

Call 1992 • KC 2019

“Isabel is everything you want from a silk.”
(Chambers & Partners, 2024)


Isabel advises upon and acts at trial and appellate level in a wide range of insurance disputes, acting for both insurers and insured.  She adopts a strategic and robust approach, including, where appropriate, successfully seeking declarations, Part 8 and preliminary trials in relation to coverage.  Recent appeal cases include University of Exeter v Allianz Insurance Plc [2023] EWCA Civ 1484 and Rabot v Hassam [2024] UKSC 11.  Issues have included:

Non-disclosure, breach of warranty, failure to notify and moral hazard.

Construction of the policy and scope of insuring and exclusion clauses.

Disputes as to timing, both as to the inception of cover and the occurrence of the insured event.  Subrogation.

  • Valuation of claims.
  • Insolvent insureds and claims under Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010.

Many of Isabel’s instructions in construction, professional negligence and property damage cases are on behalf of insurers.  Isabel is recognised in the current directories as a leading silk in each of insurance, construction, professional negligence and property damage fields.

In addition Isabel has a niche specialism in motor insurance.

She is instructed by the Attorney General on an ongoing portfolio of cases (in this jurisdiction, and leading locally qualified lawyers in Scotland and Northern Ireland) where claimants are seeking Francovich damages against the Secretary of State for Transport for alleged failure correctly to implement EU Directives on motor insurance. Issued claims have included Richards, Lewis v Tindale [2019] EWCA Civ 909, Olver, Telling-Evans and Tierney.   She has also advised the government on the implications of Brexit on domestic motor insurance legislation.

Isabel has acted in the leading cases concerning whether loss arises out of ‘the use of a vehicle’.  Cases include her successful defence of a multi-million pound claim against motor insurers by a passenger abandoned by a criminal taxi driver Carroll v (1) Michael Taylor (2) Michael Doyle (3) Emms Taxis Limited (4) QBE Insurance (Europe) Limited [2020] EWHC 153 (QB). This instruction followed her successful defence of motor insurers (led by Andrew Bartlett KC and instructed by the same solicitors) in the claims by victims of the ‘black cab’ serial sex offender AXN v Worboys [2012] EWHC 1730 (QB) | [2012] 6 WLUK 554 | [2013] Lloyd’s Rep. I.R. 207 | [2013] L.L.R. 256.

Due to her expertise in motor insurance, and her role on the CPRC involving the implementation of the OIC portal, Isabel recently appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of defendant motor insurers in the test case mixed injury litigation establishing the basis of calculation of awards where both a statutory tariff and common law damages are recoverable, successfully achieving a ruling that double recovery is impermissible.  The decision will impact the level of premium for every motor policy written, and the number of claims that can proceed through the OIC portal.  Rabot v Hassam [2024] UKSC 11.

Selected Cases

Ongoing matters in TCC, Commercial Court and arbitration include:

  • Coverage issue as to meaning of ‘escape of water’.
  • Non-disclosure in a number of cases (of illegal activities, of commercial profile of contracts undertaken, of intimated claims and of existence of public enquiries into activities).
  • Advising insurers on coverage in a test case further clarifying when an accident arises ‘out of the use of a vehicle’ and to which compulsory motor insurance responds.
  • Acting for main contractor against insurers disputing coverage for multi-million pound construction project.
  • Acting for main contractor seeking to enforce judgment obtained against an insolvent sub-contractor under the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010.

Selected past cases:

  • Rabot v Hassam [2024] UKSC 11
  • University of Exeter v Allianz Insurance Plc [2023] EWCA Civ 1484. First case decided on whether a war exclusion covers damage caused by an act of war (the dropping of a bomb in second world war raids on Exeter) but occurring long after the war’s cessation. Isabel successfully acted for insurers seeking a declaration of entitlement to avoid.
  • Neil Carroll -v- (1) Michael Taylor (2) Michael Doyle (3) Emms Taxi Limited (4) QBE Insurance (Europe) Limited [2020] EWHC 153 (QB).
  • Lewis v Tindale and MIB and Secretary of State for Transport Court of Appeal [2019] EWCA Civ 909; first instance [2018] EWHC 2376 (QB).
  • AXN v Worboys [2012] EWHC 1730 (QB) | [2012] 6 WLUK 554 | [2013] Lloyd’s I.R. 207 | [2013] L.L.R. 256
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  • MA (First Class), Christ Church, Oxford
  • BCL, Christ Church, Oxford
  • Open Scholar, Open Exhibitioner, Radcliffe Exhibitioner and Dixon Scholar Christ Church, Oxford
  • Lord Justice Sachs Scholarship, Middle Temple
  • Queen Mother Scholarship, Middle Temple
  • Inns of Court Studentship
  • Former non-stipendiary lecturer in law Christ Church Oxford
  • Accredited Adjudicator (TecBar)
  • Accredited Arbitrator (LCIA)


  • Civil Procedure Rule Committee
  • Professional Negligence Bar Association
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association
  • Society of Construction Law (and past committee member)
  • Technology & Construction Bar Association (and past committee member)
  • Joint editor of Emden’s Construction Law
  • London Court of International Arbitration
  • Former member of Attorney General’s Treasury Panel. Continues to act for government as silk.
  • Past member of Bar Standards Board Equality & Diversity Committee
  • Past member and vice-chair of Bar Standards Board Qualifications Committee
  • Past member of Bar Council and Bar Council International Committee


“Isabel is everything you want from a silk. Her mind is just razor-sharp, she will spot things in huge mounds of paperwork and see a relevance in them to then map it all through.”… “She is particularly good in cases that are a bit novel and different.”

Chambers & Partners, 2024

‘Isabel has an innate ability to drill down to the main points and weed out irrelevant issues, from which instructing solicitors can then draw up a strong strategic approach which usually gets us to where the client wants to be.’

Legal 500, 2024

“Isabel is extremely astute, very careful and conscientious and always has a clear plan of action in terms of approach to the issues and getting the best out of the case for the client. She manages expectations in relation to delivering work and solicitors know exactly where they stand.”

Legal 500, 2024

“She is very knowledgeable of the construction sector, excellent with clients and a very persuasive advocate in court or arbitration.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2022)

“She always has a good grasp and understanding of the case, and is a confident and persuasive advocate.”

(Legal 500, 2022)

“Industrious, meticulous and convincing … always has a good grasp of the case, and is a confident and persuasive advocate”

Legal 500, 2022

“Very sensitive to the needs of the client, and adopts a realistic and commercial view in order to achieve the best result.”

(Legal 500, 2021)

“A standout barrister at the construction Bar.”

(Legal 500, 2021)

“She is clear and concise as an advocate, with the ability to see the bigger picture in disputes.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2021)

“Boasts a tally of appearances in important and high-value construction cases… She has a chess grand master’s great grasp of strategy.”

(Chambers & Partners 2020)

“She has a chess grand master’s great grasp of strategy.”

(Chambers & Partners, 2020)

“She has an awesome intellect and always examines issues from all angles.”

(Legal 500)

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