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Peter Houghton

Call 2005

"Peter is hardworking and studious. He has an excellent eye for detail and his drafting skills are superb. Takes on work at short notice that others might fear to touch."
(Legal 500, 2021)

Industrial Disease

Peter specialises in industrial disease work, especially asbestos-related claims, NIHL, HAVS, occupational cancers, and WRULDs and other cumulative injuries. His disease work is predominantly for Defendants (although he does act for Claimants also). Peter is regularly instructed by leading Defendant firms and works for many of the foremost insurers.

Peter has considerable experience in the field of asbestos litigation. He prides himself on thorough preparation, detailed advice, confident advocacy and sound tactics. He has appeared in major test litigation, but in addition a large part of his practice consists of appearing at ‘show cause’ and assessment-of-damages hearings. He understands the importance of swift counter-schedules and advices on quantum/settlement that are often needed in this type of litigation.

Recent interesting cases in which he has been involved include:

  • Dryden and ors v. Johnson Matthey Plc [2018] UKSC 18, the leading case on actionable injury, concerning employees who had become sensitised to platinum salts (led Michael Kent KC).
  • Heneghan v. Manchester Dry Docks and ors [2016] EWCA Civ 86: junior counsel (led by David Platt KC) for the defendants in this leading lung cancer case. The claimant’s appeal was successfully resisted in the Court of Appeal.
  • The Employers’ Liability Policy Trigger Litigation. Peter acted for Excess Insurance Co. Ltd, appearing at the trial before Burton J, Durham v. BAI (Run Off) Ltd [2009] 2 All ER 26 (QBD). He also appeared in Excess’s successful appeal to the Court of Appeal, [2011] 1 All ER 605 (CA). Peter was instructed on the appeal to the Supreme Court in December 2011, [2012] UKSC 14.He was second junior for Excess (with Colin Edelman KC and David Platt KC).
  • Two cases where mesothelioma victims from the medical profession bring claims based on ‘passing’ exposure to asbestos from lagged pipework in the 1970s in underground tunnels beneath NHS Hospitals. The claims are being defended and are ongoing.
  • A claim arising from alleged exposure in a power station in the 1950s, following the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald. The ‘show cause’ hearing was successfully defended, McDonald being distinguished.
  • Acting for a medium-sized building firm in its defence of a mesothelioma claim by a former employee exposed to modest amounts of asbestos from sawing asbestos-cement products in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The claim is ongoing.
  • Acting in a ‘contaminated overalls’ living mesothelioma case. The case involved the issue of the extent to which unearned income from assets that would subsist after death could be included in a ‘lost years’ claim. The matter settled for £90,000, against a schedule of over £300,000.
  • Appearing in a mesothelioma case concerning the scope of the 1969 Asbestos Regulations given that the claimant was (arguably) an independent contractor rather than an employee. The ‘show cause’ hearing was defended successfully and the claim is ongoing.
  • Advising in a case concerning the circumstances in which a Court can make a ‘Haxton award’.
  • Advising on a living mesothelioma claimant’s attempt to recover the cost of private medical treatment funded by a health insurer where the claimant himself was not party to the contract of insurance. Case settled.
  • Assisting leading UK companies to prepare generic materials to assist in the defence of future asbestos-related disease claims.
  • Acting in various insurance disputes stemming from asbestos-related disease claims: see the ‘Insurance’ section of Peter’s profile on his webpage.
  • Acting for a defendant sued by a former employee who alleged that he had developed neurological injury (Parkinson’s Disease) as a result of using solvents in the 1970s-1980s.

Selected Cases

  • Durham v. BAI (Run Off) Ltd (the Employers’ Liability Policy Trigger Litigation):
    • [2008] EWHC 2692 (QB)
    • [2010] EWCA Civ 1096
    • [2012] UKSC 14
  • Heneghan v. Manchester Dry Docks Ltd and ors [2016] EWCA Civ 86
  • Dryden and ors v. Johnson Matthey Plc [2018] UKSC 18


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  • MA (Hons) (Cantab) (Double First Class)
  • MPhil (Cantab) (Distinction)
  • CPE (City) (Distinction)
  • BVC (ICSL) (Outstanding)
  • Lord Brougham and Lord Denning Scholarships (Lincoln’s)



“He is exceptionally intelligent, a go-to for complex cases to unpick difficult liability or quantum arguments. A real details man.”… “Peter is incredibly knowledgeable in his field and his attention to detail in his drafting is superb. He is able to empathise with clients whilst remaining professional.”

Chambers & Partners, 2024

“Peter is the most detail-orientated junior at the Bar. He is massively intelligent.”

Legal 500, 2024

“His grasp of the issues and ability to retain information are hugely impressive. He is meticulous in his preparation and his interaction with clients and experts is exemplary, as is the quality of his legal and tactical advice.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“An exceptionally robust advocate who presents arguments in an extremely persuasive manner, and also takes an active role both pre and post hearings.”

Legal 500, 2022

“He is very knowledgeable and has a real depth of expertise in disease litigation.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“He is very good, knows what he’s talking about and makes all the right points.”; “He is very analytical but pleasant to deal with.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“Peter is hardworking and studious. He has an excellent eye for detail and his drafting skills are superb. Takes on work at short notice that others might fear to touch.”

Legal 500, 2021

“He is very good at tailoring his advice to each client.”; “He is extremely reliable, very responsive and has a calm manner.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

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