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Katie Ayres

Call 2014


Katie’s experience of abuse / neglect law is unparalleled for someone of her Call. She was instructed in the seminal case of CN v Poole BC and is regularly instructed on difficult points of law arising out of the ongoing interpretation of this case.

Katie undertakes work for:

  • Local authorities: often in ‘failure to remove’ claims, claims involving breaches of Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 ECHR and, in relation to claims against foster-carers, on the issue of vicarious liability. She has also been instructed in several claims under Article 4 ECHR which concern human trafficking and drug running through county lines arrangements.
  • Sports clubs and other unincorporated organisations: predominantly to advise in cases where there are difficult issues of vicarious liability and limitation. Katie has been instructed by national football clubs, the scouts and is currently instructed by a Karate organisation.
  • Religious institutions: predominantly to advise on vicarious liability considerations. Katie is currently instructed by a worldwide Pentecostal organisation in several ongoing claims relating to abuse perpetrated by ministers.
  • Private companies: predominantly to advise on vicarious liability considerations in an employment or quasi-employment context. Katie represented Barclays Bank in the important Supreme Court case on vicarious liability.
  • Claimants: on all aspects of their claim. Katie feels that balancing both Claimant and Defendant work in this area is beneficial.


She is well-versed in assessing the strength of limitation arguments and with the challenging issue of consent. Katie also regularly grapples with issues around the causation of psychiatric injury and has an interest in psychiatric disorders and mental health. She has a vast amount of experience valuing abuse cases and is able to draw on her significant experience of previous cases for comparison of awards.

Katie is very experienced in dealing with claims brought under the Human Rights Act 1998 and is currently advising on the correct test for the application of Article 3 claims to ‘failure to remove’ claims.


Selected Cases


Local authorities:

  • CN v Poole Borough Council [2019] UKSC 25: Represented the defendant in this claim concerning duty of care arguments for omissions.
  • a claim against a borough council for failing to remove 4 siblings from the care of their birth parents following allegations of abuse by a neighbour.
  • a claim relating to the defence of ex turpi causa and raising duty of care issues where the claimant killed three men but was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity.
  • a claim for the negligent provision of educational and psychiatric support following the removal of a child into care.
  • a HRA 1998 claim under Article 4 ECHR for failing to prevent a Child in Need from engaging in County Lines drugs running.


Sport clubs:

  • a claim against a national football club in relation to allegations of abuse by a scout whilst on a trip to New Zealand.
  • a claim against a national Karate Organisation for grooming and abuse by a coach of the national team.


Religious institutions:

  • claims against the Catholic Church.
  • claims against various Pentecostal denominations in which the issue of vicarious liability is contested due to the lack of meaningful control over congregations (other than doctrinal guidance).


Private companies / other organisations:

  • Barclays Bank v Various Claimants [2020] UKSC 13: Represented the defendant bank in this claim concerning the correct test for vicarious liability.
  • a claim against the Scouts for alleged abuse by a janitor associated with the premises that were used but not directly associated with the organisation. The case involved vicarious liability arguments.

Psychiatric Injury

The majority of Katie’s personal injury cases involve psychiatric injury. Her background in Psychology and Neurophysiology assists with her understanding of this area. She has significant experience advising in claims where there are complex issues of causation where both pre- and post- life stressors impact a diagnosis in addition to the effects of the alleged negligence.

Katie is interested in secondary victim claims and has advised several NHS Trusts in relation to claims by relatives of patients who witnessed their relative suffering a distressing episode whilst in hospital.

Selected Cases

  • advising a local authority in relation to a claim in which the claimant claimed that he had suffered significant substance abuse issues over two decades which had prevented him from sustaining regular employment (he later became a successful investment banker when he achieved sobriety). The claim had the potential to be worth in the region of £4-5,000,000 if made out. Causation was very complex as, prior to the alleged abuse, the claimant had a very turbulent home life and witnessed the death of his father when 8 years old.
  • advising an NHS Trust in a claim by the wife of a man who sadly died due to negligent intubation. His wife witnessed the shocking event of his death.
  • advising an NHS Trust in relation to a claim by a bystander who watched a mentally ill man commit suicide by jumping in front of a tram. The claimant argued that, but for the man’s negligent discharge from psychiatric hospital, he would not have witnessed the shocking event of his death.
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“Katie exhibits excellent command of the case facts and the law, and expresses herself concisely to excellent effect.”

Legal 500, 2024

“Highly intelligent.”

Legal 500, 2024

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