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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 )

Clinical Negligence

Experience in major cases includes:

  • appearance in the Normansfield Inquiry (mental handicap hospital crisis)
  • 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

She has a special interest in psychiatric problems including obsessional compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety in themselves and in connection with 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 addiction, mental health and capacity.  She has experience of accommodation issues in the UK and in Gibraltar.

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 (involving questions of disputed fact, missing documentation, and timings) compromised shortly pre-trial.  Issues thereafter on care, residence, accommodation and education; and on aspects of calculation of heads of loss in claim settled for percentage of total liability.

Reported cases:

  • Parkinson v St James etc. Hospital Trust (CA: 2002 QB 266, clinical negligence leading case: damages recoverable by mother of disabled child born after negligent sterilisation/ genetic advice)
  • Skitt v Khan & anr (CA: (1997) 8 Med LR, clinical negligence: limitation
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  • MA (Oxon)
  • Called to the Bar 1973
  • Recorder (Civil and Criminal cases) 1997-2020
  • Appointed Queens Counsel 2003
  • MCIArb 2006
  • Accredited Mediator 2004


  • Member CIArb Commercial Mediation Panel 2007
  • Chair, CIArb London Branch 2012-2015
  • Chair, Inns of Court Conduct Committee 2012-14
  • Governing Bencher of the Inner Temple 1993-


“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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