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Margaret Bickford-Smith KC

Call 1973 • KC 2003

"Highly experienced in clinical negligence as well as injury and disease work."
(Legal 500 2014)

Clinical Negligence

Margaret has more recently concentrated on claims of major birth defect, paraplegia and tetraplegia or major handicap through surgical error or diagnostic failure.

She has had a continuing interest in medical, mental health and ancillary social issues from the start of her career, having appeared in the Normansfield Inquiry (mental handicap hospital crisis), and served on a local authority social services committee.

She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Professional Negligence Bar Association (elected 2009).

Experience in major cases includes

  • hip dysplasia (birth / congenital / developmental)
  • Erbs Palsy and shoulder dystocia sustained at birth
  • anaesthetic accident at surgery to fit elderly hospital patient resulting in tetraplegia
  • meningitis resulting in brain damage with major impairment of locomotor function
  • erroneous diagnosis of life-shortening illness
  • GP diagnostic failures / delays
  • delay in treatment of myocardial infarction, with psychological sequelae and personality change
  • infant gastro-oesophageal reflux resulting in permanent digestive problems
  • malignant testicular tumour with failure in follow-up (fatal)
  • malpositioning of prosthesis on orthopaedic surgery to shoulder
  • undiagnosed osteosarcoma in child, resulting in total loss of one lower limb
  • cholecystectomy
  • spinal surgery, decompression, syringomyelia
  • gynaecological problems and surrogacy
  • psychiatric problems including obsessional compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety including failures / errors in diagnosis.

She has dealt with a wide variety of special social issues most particularly claimants with special educational and behavioural problems, and also including accommodation in Gibraltar (arising out of a birth injury case), capacity and mental health.

Selected Cases

  • Y v Z Hospital NHS Trust – Claim successfully settled for capitalised value of £7m (lump sum £2.3m). Child claimant, a victim of birth injury, suffers from dystonic athetoid cerebral palsy but with good cognition. Issues on liability: timings at delivery, CTG, mother unattended. Liability admitted early after contentious pleadings. Special issues on quantum: accommodation, education in mainstream schooling with requirement for additional educational assistance and tailored IT provision; also on availability of public services & funding, & periodical payments. Further points on financial advice, mode of disposal, and appropriate orders.
  • K v Nottingham University Hospitals Trust – Claimant a child victim of birth injury, with dystonic athetoid cerebral palsy. Liability compromised shortly pre-trial. Issues on care, residence, accommodation and education.
  • Parkinson v St James Hospital Trust – CA: 2002 QB 266, clinical negligence leading case: damages recoverable by mother of disabled child born after negligent sterilization / genetic advice.
  • Skitt v Khan & Anr – (CA: (1997) 8 Med LR, clinical negligence: limitation.
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  • MA (Oxon)
  • Recorder (Civil and Criminal cases)
  • Queens Counsel 2003


  • Bencher of the Inner Temple
  • CIArb Mediation Panel
  • Vice-Chair, Inns Conduct Committee 2009


“Highly experienced in clinical negligence as well as injury and disease work.”

Legal 500 2014

“Committed…utterly dependable…has a fantastic manner with clients.”

Legal 500 2010

“Recommended where complex care and social issues are involved.”

Legal 500 2009

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