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Isabel Hitching QC

Call 1992 • QC 2019

"She has an awesome intellect and always examines issues from all angles....a superb tactician, who is masterly with the game plan”
(Legal 500)

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 road and infrastructure (through collision, fire and contamination). She continues to be instructed as a silk in the most high value of such claims, and in particular those that raise novel or complex legal issues.

Isabel has a particular specialism in claims relating to the recoverability and calculation of loss arising out of damage to railway infrastructure (bridge strike, rail incursion and damage by trees). She acted for insurers in test cases as to the recoverability of ‘Schedule 8 losses’ (contractual payments by Network Rail to train operating companies) 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.

Road

  • Highways England Company Limited v Morris, RSA et al (trial listed for January 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.

Rail

  • 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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Qualifications


  • 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

Memberships


  • 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
  • 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

Recommendations


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

(Legal 500)

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

(Legal 500)

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

(Legal 500)

“A highly intelligent and practical barrister.”

(Chambers & Partners)


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