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A. John Williams

Call 1983

“A very knowledgeable counsel who can relied upon to deliver and achieve good results in tough situations.”
(Legal 500, 2021)

Industrial Disease

John is recognised as one of the leading practitioners in occupational disease litigation. He has appeared in the Supreme Court in both Baker v Quantum Clothing Group plc [2011] 1 WLR 1003 and the EL Trigger Litigation [2012] 1 WLR 867. John undertakes the full range of disease work with particular emphasis on asbestos; occupational cancers; noise induced hearing loss and occupational stress and bullying claims. Other disease work undertaken includes claims for occupational asthma; upper limb disorder; HAVS; lead poisoning and Weil’s disease.


John is regularly instructed by leading insurance companies and private individuals to act in claims for asbestos-related lung disease. He has appeared in multiple show cause and evidence on commission hearings & regularly advises on indemnity issues. Recent cases include:

  • Eagles v Renew Holdings plc (Birmingham CC, 23/12/15) : Successful appeal against a “show cause” judgment in a brake linings case
  • Bolstridge v S Robinson & Sons Limited (in Liquidation) (High Court, June 2015) : High value mesothelioma claim involving lost future care services & indemnity issues
  • Knight & Taylor v University of Birmingham (High Court, ongoing): Mesothelioma claim against an occupier of premises where the Deceased studied as a medical student
  • Macarthy v Marks & Spencer plc [2014] All ER (D) 105 (Oct): successful defence in a low dose mesothelioma claim against an occupier
  • Garner v Salford City Council [2013] EWHC 1573: successful defence in a high value mesothelioma claim
  • J v R [2013] : Complex mesothelioma claim for secondary exposure by an Occupational Hygienist who was exposed to asbestos brought home on her husband’s clothes – the husband being an Occupational Hygienist who worked for the Defendant

John also has extensive experience of claims for asbestosis; asbestos related lung cancer and pleural thickening. He regularly advises in cases where Employers Liability cover is in issue and on questions of policy response to asbestos claims.

Occupational Cancers/Fibrosis and Other Conditions

John has extensive experience of non-asbestos cancer claims including claims for bladder cancer; nasal cancer and oesophageal cancer. He has undertaken a wide range of disease claims including claims for fibrosis allegedly caused by wood dust and metal dust and claims for Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis.

Recent and ongoing cases include:

  • B & Others v A Limited [High Court Cardiff, 2015] : Claims for oesophageal cancer by persons employed in a hot roll mill in South Wales. Claims settled without admission of liability
  • Cabanas v Oakfield Farm Products Limited [2014, Worcester CC] :Successful defence following a trial of a claim for Mushroom Worker’s Lung and asthma allegedly caused by exposure to mushroom spores and compost bacteria

Occupational Stress and Bullying

John acts for both blue chip companies and public sector employers in defending claims for psychiatric injury due to alleged occupational stress and bullying. John’s knowledge of employment law and awareness of the sensitivities often surrounding these claims ensures that pragmatic solutions are sought to what are often complex claims. Recent claims include:

  • York v Merz Pharma (UK) Limited (Central London County Court, June 2015) : Successful defence following a 5 day trial of a claim for psychiatric injuries caused by alleged work overload
  • Bailey v IAC Group Limited [2014, Hull CC] : Successful defence following a 6 day trial of a claim for alleged bullying and harassment (swearing and alleged assault) by a senior manager
  • King v Medical Services International Limited [2012] EWHC 970 (QB) : High value claim for bullying and harassment brought by a Senior Executive dismissed following an 8 day trial

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

John regularly acts in NIHL claims which raise issues of limitation; diagnosis and causation. In addition, John undertakes claims for alleged acoustic shock and chronic tinnitus. Recent/ongoing claims include:

  • Baird v Latham Farms Limited [2015, Nottingham CC] : trial to determine the “date of knowledge” in respect of exposure to noise from driving tractors fitted with cabs
  • Wilkinson v Consolidated Shoe Corporation & Another [2013, Carlisle CC] : Successful causation defence in a claim for NIHL
  • Tighe v MP Bioscience Limited [October 2012, Manchester County Court]: Successful defence of NIHL on both breach of duty and diagnosis/causation
  • Mulligan v BN Limited (Bedford CC, January 2017): Claim for aggravation of pre-existing tinnitus allegedly caused by burglar alarm. Claim dismissed

Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD)

John undertakes wide range of cases involving upper limb injuries. Recent claims include:

  • Miller v Warburtons Limited [2014, Preston CC] : Successful defence of a claim by employee for upper limb disorder allegedly caused by lifting standard bread baskets in a bakery depot
  • Vermeulen v Burberry Limited [2014, Central London CC]: Successful defence of a claim by switchboard operator for upper limb disorder allegedly caused by poor workstation design. Permission to appeal has been refused

Selected Cases

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“John is exceptionally competent in the area of a psychiatric injury, with great attention to detail. He gave us confidence that he had the right level of experience with some helpful practical tips.”…”His drafting and analytical skills are excellent. He provides great, practical advice with a quick turnaround if required.”

Chambers & Partners, 2024

“A leading junior in this field. Attention to detail, in-depth knowledge of all arguments, good on tactics.”

Legal 500, 2024

“A good advocate and tactician who is used on complex cases.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“A perfectly pitched balance of authority and sensitivity, appreciated by witnesses and judges alike.”

Legal 500, 2022

“A very professional, concise and clear advocate.”; “A tough advocate and negotiator with an encyclopedic knowledge of case law.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“A very knowledgeable counsel who can relied upon to deliver and achieve good results in tough situations.”

Legal 500, 2021

“He’s a very thorough advocate and is always on top of things. He’s also very personable and judges like him.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020

“Always calm and level-headed under pressure, and inspires complete confidence in his ability to master fact-heavy and complex scenarios. Very good with clients and witnesses.” “A brilliant trial advocate who is superb at cross-examination.” “Incredibly persuasive and makes clients quickly feel comfortable.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

“He has a wonderful ability to reduce complex law into easy-to-understand bite-sized pieces.” “A formidable trial advocate and ruthless in cross-examination.”

Legal 500, 2017

“He’s excellent, a formidable opponent” “He is extremely robust; as a trial advocate he can really go for the jugular when called for”

Chambers & Partners, 2017

“He is extremely approachable, highly intelligent and a ferocious cross-examiner.”

Chambers & Partners, 2016

“He’s very bright, misses nothing, and is very easy to work with and approachable.”

Chambers & Partners, 2015

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