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Nicola Atkins

Call 2012

Female Silhouette

Nicola Atkins joined Crown Office Chambers in 2019 having established a successful civil and commercial practice at a leading common law chambers. Nicola practises across all of Chambers’ core areas of work, with a particular specialism in professional liability, property/property damage and public authority liability.

Nicola is an experienced advocate and regularly appears in the County Court, High Court and in arbitrations and has been led in the Court of Appeal.

 

Professional Liability

Nicola is instructed in a wide range of professional liability matters, particularly in claims involving construction professionals, solicitors and surveyors and those linked to property damage. She frequently acts and advises in high value cases and is experienced in the cross examination of expert witnesses.

In the latest edition of Legal 500 Nicola is recommended as a leading junior for Professional Negligence and is described as “very impressive”.

 

Selected Cases

Construction professionals

  • Acting as junior counsel for the defendant contractor/Pt 20 claimant in a multi-million pound claim concerning the design and installation of allegedly defective cladding at four hotel sites across the UK.
  • Acting as sole counsel against leading counsel in a claim valued at £1.5 million brought by a pharmaceutical storage company against an HVAC contractor for the allegedly defective design of an air ventilation system.
  • Acting for a firm of architects in arbitration proceedings to determine a fee claim in respect of a restaurant refurbishment in Covent Garden.
  • Acting for a firm of architects in a claim brought for negligent design and exercise of contract administration duties during the course of a home refurbishment.
  • Acting as junior counsel (with Ivor Collett) for a firm of structural engineers in a claim valued at £2.5 million concerning the development of a listed farmhouse property in Guernsey.

Solicitors

  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in a claim brought in the High Court arising out of an ‘Identity Fraud’ conveyancing transaction. The firm had previously acted as solicitors for the purported vendors.
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in a claim alleging a failure to advise as to relevant planning restrictions during the course of a conveyancing transaction.
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in a claim brought in the High Court for negligent conduct of underlying clinical negligence proceedings which were served out of time under s14A Limitation Act 1980.
  • Acting for a firm of solicitors in ongoing proceedings brought by a former client, a freehold owner of a residential terrace, for the negligent conduct of a claim for the recovery of rent and service charge arrears from a leasehold tenant.
  • Acting in a fee claim brought by solicitors against a former client which were defended on the basis that the claimant firm had failed to enforce a costs order obtained in underlying proceedings.

Surveyors/estate agents

  • Acting in a claim brought against a firm of surveyors for the failure to identify widespread damp issues during the course of a Building Survey.
  • Acting in claims brought against a number of surveyors for the failure to identify Japanese knotweed.
  • Acting for a firm of estate agents in a claim involving the alleged failure to convey the existence of an increased offer to the vendors and a failure to comply with The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice.

 

 

Property Damage

Nicola is instructed by insurers, individuals and Local Authorities in property damage claims brought in contract, nuisance, negligence, and pursuant to statute. Nicola’s property damage practice is often closely connected to and is complemented by her work in professional negligence claims involving construction professionals.

Selected Cases

  • Acting as sole counsel at trial and then as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal (with Stephen Tromans QC and Justine Thornton QC) in Williams(1) Waistell(2) v Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 1514. The case raised a novel point of law concerning the recoverability of damages in nuisance following the encroachment of Japanese knotweed.
  • Acting as sole counsel against leading counsel in a multi-million pound claim brought by a commercial retailer for business interruption arising out of a flood.
  • Acting in a claim for business interruption caused by a flood at a number of holiday cottages in Wales.
  • Acting in a claim involving water ingress from a neighbouring property resulting from a failure to adequately maintain drainage facilities.
  • Acting in a claim for alleged damage to neighbouring property in the form of subsidence caused by a defective boundary wall. Successfully appeared at trial and subsequently at the hearing of the claimants’ appeal to the High Court.
  • Acting and advising in a number of claims involving the encroachment of tree roots and invasive weeds.
  • Acting in a number of subrogated claims arising out of the escape of water in residential and commercial premises.

Construction & Engineering

Nicola is experienced in a wide range of construction disputes involving defective works, fee disputes and allegations of negligence by professionals.  She regularly appears in the TCC and in arbitral proceedings both as sole counsel and with a leader.

Selected Cases

  • TCC: Nicola is instructed as junior counsel for the Defendant, a large building contractor, in a multi-million pound claim concerning allegedly defective cladding installed at a hotel in Gatwick. The Defendant was employed as design and build contractor and has sought to pass on the claim to its various subcontractors and specialist consultants (who are named as additional parties).  The trial is listed for 3 weeks.
  • TCC: Nicola is acting as sole counsel for specialist contractor in a large claim for loss of profits (£700,000) in relation to the design and construction of an Anaerobic Digestion Facility and a counterclaim for fees.  The trial was heard for 4 days in February 2020 with oral evidence from mechanical and engineering and forensic accountancy experts.  Judgment is awaited.
  • TCC: Nicola is acting for a firm of architects in a claim pleaded at £1.4million involving allegedly defective work carried out on a residential development in Wimbledon. The case involves an extensive schedule of structural defects and the parties have permission to rely on expert evidence in the areas of building services, fire safety, architecture and quantity surveying.  The trial is listed for 6 days.
  • TCC: Nicola is acting for a specialist glazing company in a claim brought for breach of contract/negligence in relation to the construction of a £2 million property in Sussex. The Claimant (who project managed the works) alleges that as a result of the Defendant’s breach of duty the property is affected by water ingress and damp throughout.
  • GPS v Contractors: Nicola is instructed by the proposed claimants at the pre-action stage in respect of negligent groundworks carried out during the course of a large residential development. The claim for remedial works and residual diminution in value is currently put at £400,000.
  • Arbitration: Nicola acted for a firm of architects in arbitral proceedings for unpaid fees relating to the refurbishment of a restaurant in the West End. Nicola drafted the pleadings, appeared at various interim hearings and at settlement meetings.  On the provisional award the firm obtained favourable findings on all but one of its 6 claims.
  • TCC: Nicola was instructed on behalf of the defendant contractor in relation to the supply and installation of air conditioning units at a pharmaceutical storage company. The claim for remedial works and business interruption was put at £1.2 million, but settled confidentially.
  • Arbitration: Nicola acted for the Respondents in arbitral proceedings concerning a claim for professional surveying fees. The Referring Party was engaged by the Respondents to advise on a large residential building project, particularly in relation to the design and construction of basement areas.
  • Nicola was instructed by a company specialising in damp proofing to defend a claim brought in respect of works carried out to a number of holiday cottages in Wales. The Claimants allege that the re-pointing and damp-proofing works caused cracking and moisture ingress to the properties.  Their claim comprises the cost of further remediation and a claim for loss of revenue.
  • Nicola is instructed in a claim concerning the re-development of commercial premises in Cavendish Square. The claim is brought by a neighbouring property owner who allege that the Defendants (various contractors, sub-contractors and specialist consultants) carried out the redevelopment works, including works to the adjacent footpath maintained by the local highway authority, negligently.
  • Nicola acted for a firm of architects in a fee claim brought in respect of a residential building project. The firm alleged that the owners of the property had failed to pay their fees for architectural and contract administration services during a 2 year period.  The claim settled confidentially.
  • Nicola has acted on a number of claims concerning allegedly defective works, including in respect of cavity wall insulation, plumbing, mechanical and electrical engineering and damp proofing.

Personal Injury

Nicola is instructed by individuals, local authorities and insurers in claims involving personal injury including those under the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

She has significant experience of personal injury trials, procedural applications and drafting pleadings at High Court and County Court level both as sole counsel and as part of a larger team.

 

Selected Cases

  • Acting for three defendants (a local authority, a police force and CAFCASS) in a claim brought under the Equality Act 2010 for discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Successfully appeared at the strike out hearing at which indemnity costs were ordered against the claimant.
  • Acting for a school in a claim brought by a former pupil under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Data Protection Act 1998 and in negligence.
  • Acting for a local authority in a stress at work claim brought by a former employee, a social worker, who alleged that she suffered psychiatric damage and distress as a result of her treatment at work.
  • Acting for a local authority in a claim brought under the Equality Act 2010 in respect of alleged disability discrimination whilst providing the claimant with school transport.
  • Acting for a local authority in a claim brought by a former employee for negligent misstatement, breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and defamation following the provision of an allegedly inaccurate employment reference.
  • Acting for a school in a claim brought for breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 and misuse of private data following covert filming of teachers and staff at a school by an employee.
  • Acting for numerous NHS Trusts, local authorities and police forces in claims brought under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 and in negligence for accidents sustained by visitors and employees.
  • Acting for Highways Authorities in claims brought under the Highways Act 1980 by injured pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.
  • Acting for numerous insurers in RTA claims involving allegations of LVI and fundamental dishonesty, including pleading allegations of fraud.
  • Acting for a local authority in a claim brought under Articles 3 and 8 ECHR for the failure by social services to remove children suffering from abuse.
  • Acting for a local authority in a claim brought in negligence and under Articles 3 and 8 ECHR for the failure to perform its statutory functions under the Housing Act 1996.
  • Acting as junior counsel for the Metropolitan Police in a claim brought under Articles 2 and 8 ECHR by the relatives of a man who was shot and killed whilst holding his girlfriend hostage at knife point. The claim was dismissed after a two week trial in July 2018.
  • Acting as junior counsel (with Ivor Collett) for a local authority in a six week inquest involving the death of a child as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Acting in a jury inquest involving the death of a delivery driver following a dog bite.
  • Acting for a number of local authorities in inquests involving deaths at care homes.
  • Acting in inquests involving the death of prisoners and patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Awards


Jules Thorn Scholarship (2011), Middle Temple

Astbury Scholarship (2010)

Middle Temple Exhibition Scholarship (2007)

Articles


News


Qualifications


  • BPTC, City Law School (2011-2012)
  • Jules Thorne Scholarship, Middle Temple (2011)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law, City University (2010-2011)
  • Astbury Scholarship, Middle Temple (2010)
  • MA, Legal and Political Theory, UCL (2009-2010)
  • Academic Scholarships, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University (2006-2008)
  • BA (Hons), Modern History, Oxford University (2005-2008)

Memberships


PNBA

PIBA

SCL

LCLCBA (Secretary of the Association)

BILA

Rankings


Professional Negligence: Technology & Construction in London (Bar) – Up and Coming

Professional Negligence: Leading Juniors – Tier 6 – ‘Very impressive.’

 

Recommendations


“Brilliant with clients and has real expert knowledge of the issues. She stands out for her attention to detail, and she has a 360-degree understanding of the case, so she can anticipate issues before they arise.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“She is exceptional. Nicola is very easy to communicate with and very approachable.”

Legal 500, 2021

“She is exceptional.”

Legal 500, 2020

“She has a phenomenal amount of energy and is a very switched-on junior.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020


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