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Jonathan Waite QC

Call 1978 • QC 2002

"He's a good strategic thinker, and a very fine advocate."
(Chambers UK 2012)

Jonathan Waite QC’s main area of work is product liability, in particular acting in-group litigation, on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, in respect of drugs, vaccines and medical devices or products. He has considerable knowledge and understanding of epidemiology and medical statistics, the various biological mechanisms involved in a number of different drugs and vaccines, and regulatory practices, both in the UK and to a lesser extent in the US.

Another substantial area of work is property damage, including in particular the damage caused by major fires and floods, and the consequential environmental damage.

He also does some personal injury / industrial disease work (mostly in the context of group claims), and advising on insurance disputes arising from these.

Personal Injury

Lung Diseases

Claims involving lung diseases, especially asbestos-related diseases, byssinosis (cotton workers’ lung disease) and occupational asthmas: instructions received in particular on behalf of the Norwich Union in respect of asbestos-related diseases (including insurance disputes arsing therefrom), Courtaulds plc and their insurers in respect of byssinosis claims. Recently instructed by Houghton (suppliers of cutting and hydraulic oils) and their insurers (Royal Sun Alliance) in relation to an alleged mass outbreak of occupational asthma and extrinsic allergic alveolitis at Rover Longbridge plant.

Upper Limb Disorders

Claims involving upper limb disorders.  Instructed on behalf of the Financial Times in litigation involving FT journalists and sub-editors: trials November 1995 and June-July 1998. Instructed in the Court of Appeal on behalf of Denton Hall Legal Services, solicitors, in respect of claim for upper limb disorder by legal secretary.

Disaster Litigation

Instructed to represent the Plaintiffs (in the English jurisdiction) in post-traumatic stress disorder cases arising out of the Piper Alpha explosions. Instructed on behalf of the insurers of Thames Trains and Railtrack plc in relation to the Paddington train crash.

Microbiological Diseases

Legionnaires – Litigation on behalf of the Trustees of the Science Museum in respect of the outbreak of Legionnaires disease alleged to have come from their premises: both criminal (prosecution under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) and civil proceedings.

Cryptosporidiosis – Instructed on behalf of Thames Water Authority in respect of an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis alleged to have caused injuries to 64 children.

E-coli – Instructed on behalf of the insurers of Godstone Farm, Surrey in relation to an outbreak of e-coli 0157 at a children’s animal farm: 93 alleged cases of injuries.

Product Liability

Jonathan is instructed in particular in-group actions by pharmaceutical companies / manufacturers in relation to drugs, vaccines, and medical devices; also instructed in cases involving non-medical products.

Selected Cases

  • Zimmer Metal – Instructed on behalf of Zimmer GmbH, a Swiss company, who manufactured hip replacement and hip reshaping products, which allegedly caused blood disorders and increased revision rates.
  • Pandemrix (H1N1 “Swine Flu”) Vaccine – Instructed on behalf of approximately 50 mainly adolescent claimants who, following the swine flu scare in or around 2009 – 2010, were given the Pandremix vaccine manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline, which it is alleged casued them to become narcoleptic and/or cataplectic.
  • Covidien Inc – Instructed in unitary case on behalf of manufacturer of polypropylene transvaginal tape, with Claimant alleging a defect in the tape which had been used in surgery which she had undergone for stress urinary incontinence.
  • PIP Breast Implant Litigation – Instructed on behalf of Transform Medical Group (CS) Limited and their insurers in relation to the supply of allegedly unsatisfactory PIP breast implants manufactured in France: group action.
  • Foetal Anti-Convulsant Litigation – Instructed on behalf of Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturers of Epilim, an anti-epileptic drug taken by pregnant women allegedly causing foetal abnormalities, including spina bifida, congenital malformations, and developmental abnormalities in their children; prior to that instructed on behalf of generic manufacturers, CP Pharmaceuticals, in relation to the same litigation: group action.
  • Zyprexa – Instructed on behalf of Eli Lilly & Co Ltd in relation to claims that treatment for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with atypical antipsychotic drug causes the onset of type I and type II diabetes respectively.
  • Vioxx – Instructed on behalf of both Merck & Co Inc and Merck Sharp & Dohme in respect of potential multi-claimant litigation arising out of anti-arthritis drug and alleged associated cardiovascular events. Also instructed in claim for alleged injury to gastrointestinal system as a result of taking Vioxx as part of a clinical trial.
  • MMR/MR Vaccine Litigation – Instructed by Merck & Co. Inc in multi-claimant litigation, in respect of autism / inflammatory bowel disease said to arise from measles mumps and rubella / measles and rubella vaccines: group action.
  • Oral Contraceptive Litigation (2002) – Instructed on behalf of Schering Health Care Limited and John Wyeth and Brother Limited in multi-claimant litigation, in respect of cardiovascular disorders alleged to arise from taking of “third generation” oral contraceptive: group action.
  • Dopamine Agonist Drug (2001) – Case involving the bringing to the market of a pharmaceutical product and the design of a clinical trial by Novartis. First case in England in relation to the alleged negligent design and conduct of a clinical trial.
  • Organophosphate Sheep Dip Litigation – Instructed on behalf of Mallinckrodt Ltd, one of the manufacturers, in respect of multi-claimant action brought by farmers alleging neuro-psychiatric damage arising out of exposure to organophosphate sheep dip: group action.
  • Tobacco Litigation – Instructed on behalf of Rothmans plc in contemplation of action against them re “active” smoking claims; and in respect of potential passive smoking claims arising out of those working in the hospitality trade.
  • Medical Products – Instructed on behalf of May & Baker in respect of Dimer X, a contrast medium.
  • Linkwise Sofa Litigation – Instructed on behalf of retailer and its insurers in relation to the onset of dermatitis suffered by members of the public, allegedly caused by contact with leather sofas imported fromChina: group action.
  • Scania – Instructed on behalf of 51 employers in product liability case concerning the allegedly defective design of the cabs of Scania 4 lorries said to give rise to back conditions: group action.
  • Dunlop Limited (1996) – Instructed by Dunlop Limited in respect of the manufacture of SP4 tyres.
  • Clark Equipment Company (1993) – Instructed by Clark Equipment Company in respect of claim involving the safety of design of liquid propane gas cylinders mounted on forklift trucks.

Property Damage

Selected Cases

  • Instructed by insurers in relation to the fire at the Penhallow Hotel, Newquay in 2007, the largest hotel fire in the country for more than 30 years, including the inquest (3 fatalities), the prosecution by the Cornwall County Council for breaches of fire regulations, and the civil proceedings.
  • Instructed by insurers in relation to a substantial fire at light industrial premises in Gloucester, following the delivery of a defective fork lift truck which caught fire.
  • Instructed by insurers on behalf of property developers in relation to substantial fires on two of their building sites in Peckham and Camberwell.
  • Instructed by insurers in appeal in case where defendant found not negligent in relation to the escape of fire from his tyre repair premises in light industrial park in Herefordshire, but found liable pursuant to the rule in Rylands v Fletcher: Stannard t/a Wyvern Tyres v Gore: see selected cases.
  • Instructed by insurers in respect of a fire at a waste management centre in Garforth near Leeds, and resultant environmental/pollution claims, when water used to extinguish fire, together with chemicals from site, polluted neighbouring watercourses.



  • MA (Law) Trinity College, Cambridge


  • London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association
  • Personal Injuries Bar Association


“Possesses excellent legal and procedural knowledge, and is able to grasp complex facts quickly.” “Hands on, proactive, thorough and dependable,” “he definitely commands the confidence of the court.”

Chambers & Partners UK Bar

“Bright, creative and good with clients.”

Legal 500 2017

“he’s a very robust, experienced, diligent advocate who knows the territory like the back of his hand. Clients like him very much, he speaks their language and he’s a delight to work with” ; “I go to him when I’ve got a complex, difficult question of law. He is an incredibly accomplished senior lawyer with the backing of long experience in this area”; “He is incredibly well prepared and once on his feet he is formidible”

Product Liability: 'Leader at the Bar (Chambers UK 2016)

“an experienced heavyweight”

Product Liability: 'Leader at the Bar (Legal 500 2016)

“very detail-oriented and practical, he gets to grips with the facts very readily” ; “he has excellent legal and procedural knowledge, and is able to grasp complex facts quickly”

Product Liability: 'Leader at the Bar’ (Chambers UK 2015)

“clearly recognised in the courtroom as an experienced product liability silk”

Product Liability: 'Leading Silk' (Legal 500 2015)

“an outstanding master of detail” ; “A very astute leader who is enormously experienced in group litigation. That gives him a headstart over the competition. He’s tactically sound also, and shows very fine judgement when dealing with the court.” ; “He has excellent legal and procedural knowledge, and is able to grasp complex facts quickly”

Product Liability: 'Leader at the Bar' (Chambers UK 2014)

“a tenacious and logically compelling advocate”

Product Liability: 'Leading Silk' (Legal 500 2014)

“at the top of his game”

Product Liability: 'Leading Silk' (Legal 500 2013)

“an extremely knowledgeable and able barrister” ; “he’s a good strategic thinker, and a very fine advocate”

Product Liability: 'Leader at the Bar' (Chambers UK 2012)

“he is a true heavyweight who you’d be happy to use against anyone”

Property Damage: 'Leader at the Bar' (Chambers & Partners 2015)

Industrial Disease/ Personal Injury: (Legal 500 2007-2013)

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