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Michael Kent QC

Call 1975 • QC 1996

"He is very well respected and you would instruct him in any significant disease cases."
(Chambers & Partners 2016)

Industrial Disease

Michael has been heavily involved in recent years advising and acting for long-tail employers’ liability insurers raising fundamental points of principle in relation to liability for industrial disease. He was involved in many of the leading cases of recent years. He was at the forefront of the successful reversal of the hitherto accepted treatment of asbestos-related pleural plaques as actionable injury. He was also involved in the leading case concerned with liability for noise-induced hearing loss where government approved codes of conduct at the date of exposure were complied with. He appeared for the ABI as an Intervener in the Supreme Court in relation to long-term exposure and insurance gaps. Recent work includes:

  •  Acting for Defendants resisting claims for loss of earnings due to sensitisation to platinum salts: whether actionable injury in tort; whether alternative claims in contract may be brought for more than nominal damages; effect of collective agreement incorporated in employment contracts; existence and scope of implied term; whether implied term or duty of care in relation to avoidance of pure economic losses.
  • Acting for liability insurers seeking to avoid employers’ liability policy in favour of Cape Asbestos parent company for material non-disclosure based on allegations of emerging knowledge in 1950s and early 1960s of risk of mesothelioma from asbestos; knowledge derived from Cape operations in South Africa and reports of Dr Wagner; whether some types of asbestos then understood to be more potent than others; role of Factory Inspectorate; effect of knowledge acquired at New York Conference in October 1964.
  • Acting for claimant in subrogated claims under asset sale agreement against co-insured; recovery of costs and outlay on asbestos risks in respect of periods before and after defendant became co-insured; apportionment.
  • Acting for defendants in Group action (17,000 plus claimants) seeking damages for alleged effects of smoke and toxic emissions from factory fire in a suburb of Liverpool which burned for two weeks or so in June/July 2011: issues of causation and toxicity of smoke tried as preliminary issues. Meteorological, medical, toxicological and plume modelling expert evidence; dermatology, ENT; chest physicians.
  • Appearing in Supreme Court for ABI as Intervener: EL insurance, asbestos risks; uninsured periods; Mesothelioma; Compensation Act; Equitable contribution by insured.
  • Appearing on behalf of Intervener in Supreme Court on issue of liability at common law or under the Factories Act 1961 for noise induced hearing loss sustained by employees before the coming into force of the Noise at Work Regulations 1989.
  • Acting for claimants in group action alleging adverse consequences to health resulting from exposure to ionising radiation from nuclear tests carried out by the British Government in the 1950s and 1960s. Issues relating to knowledge and proof of causation of later disease as being due to exposure to nuclear fall-out.
  • Acting for insurers of major furniture suppliers in Group litigation (c 6,000 claimants) alleging dermatitis from contact with furniture; drafting Claims Handling Agreement containing tariff awards which was approved by High Court.
  • Acting for defendant on issue of proof of causation of lung fibrosis in relation to low dose exposure to asbestos: significance of pathology findings and Helsinki criteria.Appearing for Defendants in test cases establishing that employers have no liability for asbestos-related pleural plaques and no claim for free-standing psychiatric injury.
  • Acting for successors to National Dock Labour Board: whether common law liabilities owed to registered dock workers for disease arising out of exposure to asbestos cargoes in 1950s and 1960s.

Selected Cases

  • Dryden & Ors.v Johnson Matthey Plc (Supreme Court—judgment awaited—on appeal from Greenway v Johnson Matthey [2016] EWCA Civ 408; [2016] 1 WLR 4487):
  • Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd v Aviva Plc [2017] Trial of Part 20 proceedings before Picken J (settled before judgment).
  • Cape Distribution Ltd v Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd (no 2) [2016] EWHC 1786 (QB); [2017] Lloyd’s Rep. I.R. 1.
  • Saunderson v Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd [2015] EWHC 2264 (QB)
  • International Energy Group Ltd v Zurich Insurance plc UK Branch (Association of British Insurers and another intervening) [2015] UKSC 33; [2016] A.C. 509 Supreme Court—
  • Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Ltd [2011] UKSC 17; [2011] 1 WLR 1003 Supreme Court.
  • AB and ors v Ministry of Defence (Atomic Veterans litigation) [2010] EWCA Civ 1317:
  • Linkwise/Eurosofa DMF Group Litigation –Horwood & Ors v Argos Ltd & Ors. settlement approved by Macduff J.
  • Sabin v BRB (Residuary) Ltd [2010] EWHC 267 (QB) Rice v Secretary of State of Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform; Thompson v Same [2007] EWCA Civ 289 and [2008] EWHC 3216 (QB)
  • Rothwell v Chemical Insulating Co Ltd [2007] UKHL 39; [2008] 1 AC 281; [2007] 3 WLR 876
  • The Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease Litigation: N v Medical Research Council and Department of Health [1996] 7 Med LR 309; 54 BMLR 8, Morland J and CA:
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  • Inns of Court School of Law (1973 – 1975)
  • BA (Hons) Politics, University of Sussex (1970 – 1973)
  • Nautical College, Pangbourne (1965 – 1969)
  • Recorder of the Crown Court
  • Deputy High Court Judge (Queen’s Bench Division and Administrative Court).
  • He is a Bencher of the Middle Temple


  • London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association (Chairman 2011-13)
  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Tecbar
  • Chairman of working group on expert witnesses for Inns of Court College of Advocacy (2018)


“He has the most wonderful advocacy style – he’s calm, silky and measured.” “He is hugely intelligent and pleasure to work with.”

Chambers & Partners 2020

“He is particularly strong handling high-profile group litigation.”

Legal 500 2020

“A highly skilled advocate who is able to get to grips with the most complex of issues…The epitome of a smooth operator. An excellent QC whom I can’t recommend highly enough.”

Chambers & Partners 2018

“A very high-quality silk.”

Legal 500 2017

“He has a profound understanding of legal principles and how to construct a case.”

Legal 500 2017

“he is very well respected and you would instruct him in any significant disease cases”

Chambers & Partners 2016

very intelligent and capable of very quick thinking on his feet”

Legal 500 2016

a highly intelligent advocate, who has particular experience in group actions”

Chambers & Partners 2015

“a highly intelligent, very responsive silk”

Legal 500 2015

“extremely bright..the finest appeal advocate I have ever seen”

Chambers & Partners 2014

“good for complex cases”

Legal 500 2014

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