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Peter Houghton

Call 2005

Inquests & Public Inquiries

Peter has many years of experience in the coronial jurisdiction. He appears for families of the deceased and other interested parties (such as doctors, drivers, care homes and employers).

Peter recognises how vital it is to prepare thoroughly for inquests and to handle witnesses sensitively at the hearings.

Recent inquest work includes:

  • Representing the former employer of a man who died from what his treating clinicians diagnosed as asbestosis. A civil claim had been intimated by the deceased during his lifetime. The issue was whether the deceased had in fact suffered from asbestosis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Peter secured a conclusion of natural causes.
  • Representing a care home at which a resident fell whilst being transferred using a hoist. The matter was complicated by the facts that the carers who were hoisting the resident had been dismissed by Peter’s client before the inquest and that the Coroner had obtained expert evidence from the local county social services department as to hoisting. Key issues were whether the carers had been adequately trained, whether the hoist had malfunctioned or had never been properly secured, whether the hoist and sling were appropriate for the resident, the adequacy of the care home’s risk assessments and whether the resident’s room (which was of a standard size) was too small to accommodate the required hoist. Many of these had significant ramifications for the care home. Following the evidence, as part of which Peter cross-examined the council expert, the Coroner recorded a conclusion of accidental death. He decided that the carers had been properly trained, risk assessments were adequate, the hoist and sling were appropriate and the room was not too small.
  • Representing the motor insurers of a vehicle in which a young woman died following alleged racing between several cars late at night on country roads. The said vehicle was being driven by a man who was neither its owner nor insured to drive it or any other vehicle. Another passenger in that vehicle was very seriously injured in the fatal accident. Peter established during cross-examination that this passenger knew that the driver was not insured to the vehicle (or any other) and further that he knew the driver had never even taken a driving test. This had important consequences for any potential civil claims.
  • Representing a care home at which an elderly resident had wandered out of her room at night and been found dead on a flight of stairs having fallen. Key issues included the adequacy of risk assessments for the resident, whether she should have been identified as being at risk of nocturnal wandering and/or falling, whether she should have been housed on the home’s ground floor and whether nightly checks on her were sufficient and had been done properly. These were resolved to the home’s satisfaction. The Coroner reached a conclusion of accidental death.

Selected Cases

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Qualifications


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

 


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