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Isabel Hitching KC

Call 1992 • KC 2019

"industrious, meticulous and convincing … always has a good grasp of the case, and is a confident and persuasive advocate"
(Legal 500, 2022)

Property Damage

Isabel is regularly instructed in property damage claims for trespass, nuisance and negligence. Cases have included chemical contamination, flood, fire, collision and damage occurring during construction and engineering works.

As the most senior specialist on the Attorney General’s panel Isabel was instructed, prior to taking silk, in many factually complex and high value claims by Highways England for damage to roads and bridges (through collision, fire and contamination). She continues to be instructed as a silk in the highest value claims, and in particular those that raise novel or complex legal issues.

Isabel has a particular specialism in claims relating to damage to railway infrastructure (bridge strike, rail incursion and damage by trees): scope of duties of landowners adjacent to railway, and the recoverability and calculation of loss arising out of damage to railway infrastructure. She acted for insurers in test cases as to the recoverability of ‘Schedule 8 losses’ (contractual payments by Network Rail to train operating companies for business interruption) and now acts for a number of insurers in cases concerned with the calculation of such claims.

Selected Cases

  • Advising the government on a claim arising out of extensive damage caused to listed buildings in central London due to the collapse of a crane.
  • Acting for the Environment Agency in a number of cases concerning flooding.
  • GE Energy Power Conversion UK Ltd v Anixter Ltd and Cooper & Turner Distribution Ltd and Clyde Fasteners Ltd – Acting for 4th party manufacturer of components which allegedly failed during test operation of generators manufactured by GE for use in the oil and gas industry causing extensive damage. Thorough analysis of conflicting expert metallurgist evidence successfully obtained a settlement shortly before trial.
  • Fulwood (& 24 Others) v Secretary of State for the Department for Energy & Climate Change, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council & Others – Acting for a local authority defending action by residents alleging breach of duties in connection with dismantling of gas works and the reclamation of the site on which their properties were built. Claims include alleged damage to property and environmental pollution.
  • Thames Water Utilities Limited v Viridor Waste (Thames) Limited – Acted for Viridor defending a multi-million pound claim for chemical contamination of a sewage treatment plant and pollution of a drinking water supply and bringing a cross-claim for damages for breach of contract. Five disciplines of expert were involved, including hydrologists, biochemists and surveyors specialising in the construction and operation of sewage treatment plants. Isabel acted from pre action until settlement following mediation.


  • Highways England Company Limited v Morris, RSA et al (trial 2020). Extensive damage caused to bridge by two separate collisions. Vast disclosure and complex expert issues. Isabel is leading two juniors.
  • Highways England Company Limited v (1) B.G Rodwell Limited (2) Robert Cheadle (3) Allianz Insurance [2017] EWCH 118 (QB) (recently settled). Bridge strike causing extensive damage. Isabel was brought in to take over the case for Highways England after issue of proceedings, successfully resisting an application to strike out the claim and obtaining a favourable settlement.


  • Network Rail v Handy et al [2015] EWHC 1175 (TCC) – Test case concerning the scope of damages payable to Network Rail by drivers causing line incursions or bridge strikes. Isabel was previously instructed in Conarken Group Ltd v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd on the application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal ; [2011] EWCA Civ 644; [2012] 1 All E.R. (Comm) 692; [2011] 2 C.L.C. 1; [2011] B.L.R. 462;
  • Network Rail v House of Goodness Ltd listed for trial in October 2019 – case concerning scope of liability of a landowner for tree falling onto line.
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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
  • Previously 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


“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)

“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)

“A superb tactician, who is masterly with the game plan.”

(Legal 500)

“An extremely competent tactician who provides very strong strategy.”

(Legal 500)

“A specialist in construction, with regular High Court appearances.”

(Legal 500)

“A highly intelligent and practical barrister.”

(Chambers & Partners)

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