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James Maxwell-Scott KC

Call 1995 • KC 2016

(Legal 500)

Inquests & Public Inquiries


His coronial law practice covers the full range of scenarios that give rise to complex contested inquests. He has represented clients at inquests into deaths arising out of the following:

  • Accidents in the workplace;
  • Allegedly substandard medical care in hospitals and in the community;
  • Incidents in care homes;
  • Homicides;
  • Explosions;
  • Incidents involving the Armed Forces;
  • Aviation accidents;
  • Police pursuits;
  • Deaths in custody.

Selected Cases


  • Camber Sands drowning inquests (2017). Represented local authority in combined inquests into the deaths of 5 men who drowned at Camber Sands on the same day in August 2016 (June 2017).
  • Represented an NHS Trust in combined inquests into two separate fatal “never events” that occurred within hospitals operated by the Trust (November/December 2016).
  • Stephen Hunt Inquest – Represented leaseholder of premises in 6 week inquest into death of a firefighter at the premises (April/May 2016).
  • Junior Counsel representing Sheffield City Council in the Hillsborough Inquests (2014-2016).
  • Represented care home operator at an inquest into the death of a resident who died of hypothermia (November 2015).
  • R (Wilkinson) v HM Coroner for the Greater Manchester South District [2012] EWHC 2755 (Admin) – Test case on the use of unlawful killing verdicts in inquests following fatal road traffic accidents. Decided that the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving cannot constitute unlawful killing; only driving that constitutes gross negligence manslaughter can result in an unlawful killing verdict.
  • Represented Siemens at an inquest into the death of one of its employees who died when a wind turbine blade which was being lifted onto a vessel from the quayside fell and crushed him to death (November 2011).
  • Represented the German manufacturer and supplier of an industrial printing press at an inquest into the death of an employee of a printing company who was crushed to death whilst attempting to repair the press. Subsequently, the HSE took the decision to prosecute the printing company but not to prosecute the manufacturer (October 2010).
  • Represented the Prison Service at a 5 week inquest into the death of a young man who died following an acute asthma attack (April/May 2010).
  • Represented the Care Quality Commission at a 2 week inquest into the death of a man who died in a care home. Shortly after his death the home closed down and its owners, who were both GPs, were struck off by the GMC (March 2010).
  • Lakanal House Fire Inquest – 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.
  • HMS Tireless Inquest – Represented a chemicals company at a 6 week inquest into the death of two submariners. The chemicals company was the manufacturer of a self-contained oxygen generator which exploded on board the Royal Navy nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless (February/March 2009).
  • Represented a youth offending team at a 10 week inquest into the death of a 16 year old boy from the Irish Travelling community (November 2007 – February 2008).
  • Represented the Prison Service at a 5 week inquest into the murder of an Asian prisoner by his white cellmate (2007).

Public Inquiries

  • The Hutton Inquiry – First junior counsel representing a number of MoD witnesses, including the Secretary of State for Defence and the Permanent Secretary.
  • The Mubarek Inquiry – First junior counsel representing HM Prison Service and many individual members of the Prison Service including the Director General.
  • The Shipman Inquiry – He was the most senior barrister in the legal team representing the Home Office in Phase 2 Stage 2 (death and cremation certification) and Phase 2 Stage 3 (controlled drugs).
  • The BSE Inquiry – Worked for over 18 months with a team of other counsel and solicitors representing former Ministers, scientific advisers and senior civil servants from the Department of Health.
  • The Rosemary Nelson Inquiry – Represented the Ministry of Defence at this public inquiry in Northern Ireland.
  • The Billy Wright Inquiry – Represented a number of civil servants and soldiers at this public inquiry in Northern Ireland.
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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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