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Isabel Hitching KC

Call 1992 • KC 2019

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

Property Damage

Isabel is identified as a leading silk in this area in the latest directories.

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

Given her expertise in large scale construction projects many property damage claims in which she acts relate to damage caused during such works: damage by cranes collapsing, flood, fire and chemical contamination.  She also brings that expertise to bear in effectively challenging the scope and cost of repair programmes for property damage in wider cases.

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 also advised the government on a claim arising out of extensive damage caused to listed, government department buildings by the collapse of a crane and acted for the Environment Agency in a number of cases concerning flooding.  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 niche specialism in claims relating to damage to railway infrastructure (bridge strike, rail incursion, damage by trees and flood, and contamination following derailment): 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) Network Rail v Handy et al [2015] EWHC 1175 (TCC) and now acts for a number of defendants and insurers in cases concerned with the calculation of such claims.  She also acts for parties involved in disputes arising out of derailment and contamination, She has extensive experience of the interlocking contractual arrangements between infrastructure owners, rolling stock maintainers, owners and operators, and the interface with the CAHA framework.

Selected Cases

Current matters include:

  • Acting for contractors defending claims arising out of the collapse of the ceiling of the Ambassador Theatre during a performance of Death of a Salesman due to alleged water damage.
  • Acting for suppliers of a drinks machine that is alleged to have caused a catastrophic fire at a restaurant and hotel complex.
  • Acting for insurers of insolvent contractors alleged to have caused catastrophic fire to hotel premises during roofing operations.
  • Acting for a local authority defending claims that it is liable to undertake works to prevent flooding of railway lines.
  • Acting for a party seeking to recoup multi-million pound contamination clean up costs incurred under the CAHA framework from parties causing the derailment.


  • 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 Extensive damage caused to bridge by two separate collisions. Vast disclosure and complex expert issues was successfully analysed by Isabel and two juniors leading to a settlement shortly before trial in 2020.
  • 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 (the recoverability of ‘Schedule 8’ losses). 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 scope of liability of a landowner for tree falling onto line, and calculation of Schedule 8 losses.

Defective manufacture

  • 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.
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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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