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James Maxwell-Scott KC

Call 1995 • KC 2016

(Legal 500)

Criminal Regulatory & Environmental

Environmental & Nuclear Safety

Advised AWE Plc (the company that runs the Atomic Weapons Establishment) in relation to the Office of Nuclear Regulation’s investigation into the alleged breach of a Licence Instrument requiring the reduction in volume and encapsulation of drums of intermediate level radioactive waste. In April 2015, ONR announced that it would not seek to prosecute AWE plc in respect of the alleged breach.

Enforcement Notice Appeals

He has a particular expertise in this area having been involved in the leading cases of Rotary Yorkshire Ltd v Hague [2015] EWCA Civ 696 and Chilcott v Thermal Transfer Ltd [2009] EWHC 2086 (Admin). He has lectured on this topic at the IOSH annual conference and to the HSLA.

Consumer Law

He has experience of consumer law including acting for The Fat Duck in its civil claim arising out of the norovirus outbreak which led to the restaurant being closed for several weeks. He is currently acting for a supplier in a claim brought against it by Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

Selected Cases

Health & Safety

  • R v Dobson. Represented sole director of a solar panel installation company. The prosecution arose out of an incident in which a worker fell through a fragile roof. Obtained a Goodyear indication that an immediate custodial sentence would not be imposed. Defendant pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence (November 2017).
  • R v London & Southeastern Railway Ltd. Represented defendant at 5 week trial. The prosecution arose out of the fatal electrocution of a subcontractor’s employee at a rail depot (Autumn 2017).
  • R v Ogrodnik. Represented company director who was prosecuted following a fall from height at the company’s warehouse. The HSE dropped the case before trial (2017).
  • R v Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure Ltd – Successfully defended a company that operated a cycling centre. The prosecution arose out of an accident to a child using the cycling track which resulted in serious injuries (February 2017).
  • R v EVT GmbH – Successfully represented German designer / manufacturer at Newton hearing arising out of the explosion of a degreasing machine in a factory. Court accepted submission that this was a medium culpability / harm category 3 case (September 2016).
  • R v Chatsworth House Trust. Successful submission that the defendant had no case to answer. The prosecution arose out of a fatal accident at the Chatsworth International Horse Trials (July 2016).
  • R v Inter Steels Ltd – Successfully defended a construction company charged with breaches of section 3 HSWA and the Work at Height Regulations. The HSE offered no evidence on the first day of the trial (January 2015).
  • R v Siemens plc – Junior counsel for the UK arm of Siemens in a health and safety prosecution arising out of a fatal accident. The case against Siemens plc was dropped after the Danish arm of Siemens pleaded guilty (2014).
  • R v Bingham Davis Ltd – Defended (with Richard Lynagh Q.C.) a firm of structural engineers in a 4 week trial in Liverpool Crown Court (May 2012). The case arose out of the collapse of a tower crane in Liverpool city centre. The crane fell onto an apartment block causing damage estimated at in excess of £10m. In addition, the crane driver suffered catastrophic injuries.
  • R v Guildford – Successfully defended a builder charged with a breach of Regulation 28(1) of the CDM Regulations following the partial collapse of a substantial residential property. Defendant acquitted after a 3 week trial (October 2011).
  • R v Buro Happold Ltd – Successfully defended an award winning, international engineering firm charged with a breach of section 3 HSWA. The prosecution arose out of the death of a construction worker at a major residential development project in central Manchester; the Defendant was the structural engineer appointed to the project. Defendant acquitted after a 5 week trial (July 2011).
  • R v Jones – Defended the owner and operator of a fairground ride who was prosecuted following an incident caused by weld failure which rendered a customer tetraplegic. Defendant pleaded guilty to the strict liability offence of breaching Regulation 5 of PUWER; section 3 HSWA charge dropped (June 2010).
  • R v MHM Ltd – Defended a mental health housing charity which was prosecuted under section 2 HSWA after one of its employees was stabbed to death whilst visiting a client in his home. Defendant fined £30,000 following agreed basis of plea (February 2010).

    Fire Safety

  • He has a particular interest in fire safety.
  • Stephen Hunt Inquest – Represented leaseholder of premises in 6 week inquest into death of a firefighter at the premises (April/May 2016).
  • Lakanal House Fire Inquest – Lead Counsel to the Inquest (appointed by Her Honour Frances Kirkham CBE) into the fire in which 6 people died in a tower block in South London in July 2009 (January/March 2013).
  • R v AWE Plc – Defended the company that runs the Atomic Weapons Establishment under a contract with the Ministry of Defence. The Defendant was prosecuted by the HSE following a fire in an explosives building in 2010. The Defendant pleaded guilty on a basis and was fined £200,000 (May 2013).
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  • BCL, Christ Church, Oxford
  • MA (First Class), Christ’s College, Cambridge
  • Accredited Advocacy Trainer (Gray’s Inn), 2017
  • Recorder of the Crown Court, 2018
  • Bencher of Gray’s Inn, 2023


Health & Safety Lawyers Association (Vice Chair)
Personal Injury Bar Association
Professional Negligence Bar Association
London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association
Administrative Law Bar Association


“James is measured and is very good at pitching his submissions exactly where they needed to be. Absolutely on top of the detail – well read, and very well prepared.”…”James has incredible attention to detail and an ability to quietly digest information and formulate a plan.”

Chambers & Partners, 224

‘A silk with great forensic skills and an analytical eye.’

Legal 500, 2024

‘He produces high-quality written advice and is able to quickly review and disseminate large amounts of information.‘

Legal 500, 2024

“He has a strategic overview of his cases and brings real gravitas to a matter.” “He is so eloquent and knows everything about a case. A very impressive individual.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“First-class. Understands the issues quickly and develops sound and principled arguments, which then develop into themes and key documents that reflect the approach and strategy of the client. His work on this case has been of the highest order and he has steered the team impeccably on such a high-stakes matter.”

Legal 500, 2022

“A very composed and impressive silk.”

Legal 500, 2021

“He is very professional, has good judgement and is very organised. He’s a bright lawyer and a real pleasure to work with.”; “The content of what he says in court is fantastic and his construction of arguments is brilliant. He’s very effective at what he does.”; “I have enormous respect for him, he’s very bright and his integrity shines through.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“Has excellent knowledge of the law, and works for high-profile clients in a lot of the important cases.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020

“Excellent, informed and very helpful barrister.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

“An excellent trial tactician, who provides reasoned and committed advice”

Legal 500, 2017

“He’s fantastically bright, has a great manner with his clients and has an excellent legal head on him.”

Chambers & Partners, 2017

“A level-headed advocate, combining intellectual ability with a lack of stuffiness.”

Legal 500, 2016

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