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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)

Personal Injury

Peter’s practice, which is exclusively in multi-track claims, covers the following types of case: road traffic accidents; accidents at work; slips and trips; highways claims; civil assaults; casualty fraud; and motor fraud.

He specialises in claims involving: head/brain injury (including post-concussion syndrome); chronic pain conditions and similar syndromes; serious orthopaedic injuries.

Representative examples of his recent work involving head/brain injury (including post-concussion syndrome) are as follows:

For Defendants:

  • Acting for a patient transport service sued by an elderly man whom the service had failed to collect and transport to Hospital. He suffered a fall and subsequently was diagnosed with a subdural haematoma for which he underwent emergency neurosurgery. Following Peter’s involvement, and particularly his input into the expert medical evidence, the claim was discontinued on the basis that the claimant could not prove that his subdural haematoma was caused or aggravated by the defendant’s admitted breach of duty.
  • Acting for a motorist who had knocked down a pedestrian. The claimant was a professor of linguistics with unusual earnings patterns. It was alleged that he suffered a significant brain injury although he performed well on cognitive testing. The claim settled at JSM for much less than its pleaded value.
  • Acting for a construction firm whose employee (a man in his 40s) was injured when struck on the head by a falling pallet. The expert evidence in the fields of neurology, neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry in particular was exceptionally lengthy and complex. The defendant’s case was that the claimant had developed a somatic symptom disorder rather than suffering significant effects from organic brain injury. The claim settled at JSM for a small amount of its pleaded value.
  • Acting for a bar at which a customer (a woman in her early 30s) had been injured by a falling lightshade. She alleged a traumatic brain injury, headaches, reduced capacity to pursue her studies and work etc. Peter marshalled expert evidence from a neurologist and neuropsychologist to refute the possibility of brain injury and the case settled for about 20% of its pleaded value.
  • Acting for an airline sued by a passenger (a woman in her 20s) who was struck on the head by luggage falling from an overhead locker and now alleges ongoing symptoms of diminished concentration, inefficient memory etc. despite no apparent brain damage. The case raises interesting issues on the recoverability of damages for conditions such as post-concussion syndrome under the Montreal Convention.
  • Acting for a motorist who injured a baby in a car accident more than 10 years ago. Traumatic brain injury and permanent cognitive impairment are alleged but the defendant’s case based on its medical evidence is that any discrepancies on neuropsychological testing are natural fluctuations in cognitive strengths and weaknesses during the child’s development.
  • Acting for a taxi driver who caused a severe traumatic brain injury to a young woman in her 20s. Despite this she made a good recovery and continued pursuing her university studies. She performed well on cognitive testing but was diagnosed by neuropsychologists with ‘frontal lobe paradox’. The case settled satisfactorily after exchange of expert evidence.
  • Acting for a landowner sued by a neighbour who was struck on the head by a branch falling from the landowner’s tree and suffered a brain injury. Following Peter’s involvement in drafting correspondence, applying successfully to amend the Defence and negotiating on behalf of the client, the claim was withdrawn weeks before trial on satisfactory terms.

For Claimants:

  • Acting for a man in his 40s who suffered a serious closed head injury and brain damage in a road traffic accident. Because of the complicated insurance position proceedings were issued against two motor insurers and the MIB. The Claimant was able to return to work within a few months of the accident. The case settled at JSM for £180,000.
  • Acting for a man in his 50s who suffered a head injury and mild brain injury plus post-concussion syndrome and a constellation of unusual symptoms. Despite difficult neurological, neuropsychological and psychiatric evidence, Peter was able to settle the claim for £150,000.
  • Acting for a woman in her 30s who suffered a head injury when struck by a piece of work equipment on a production line. There are ongoing disputes as to the severity of the head injury, the extent of any brain injury, the role of psychological factors in her presentation etc. The claimant has been unable to work for several years.
  • Acting for a woman in her 60s who suffered a head injury and mild brain injury following a fall at work. Again, disputes as to the severity of her head injury, the severity of her brain injury, the extent to which her symptoms are psychologically-mediate etc. are ongoing.

Examples of other work are as follows:

For Defendants:

  • Acting for an insurer in a high-value (£250K+) RTA claim. The first defendant driver had disappeared. Peter succeeded, after a contested hearing before HHJ Saggerson, in obtaining a declaration of no jurisdiction and the striking out of the claim on grounds of defective service on first defendant driver.
  • Acting for a landowner in a high-value (£1.25m+) occupiers’ liability claim. Insurers had admitted liability pre-issue. Peter successfully persuaded the Court to permit his client to resile from the pre-action admission with no adverse costs order against it. Shortly thereafter the claim was withdrawn.
  • Acting in a high-value (£1.28m+) quantum-only claim in which the claimant suffered severe pelvic and lower limb injuries. Besides loss of earnings, pension and care, claims were made for accommodation, adapted vehicles, case management etc. In the run-up to a remote JSM Peter undertook conferences with three experts (orthopaedics, pain management, care) which resulted in considerable refocusing of their evidence. The orthopaedic evidence in particular was complicated, turning on statistics about revision rates for types of hip-replacement prostheses. He represented his client at the JSM and secured settlement for just £305,000, less than 25% of pleaded value.
  • Acting in a high-value (£1.1m+) quantum-only claim in which a young man suffered serious pelvic injuries. Peter had considerable input, via conferences, into expert orthopaedic evidence involving questions of: prognosis for the hip and need for hip-replacement surgery; impact of a non-accident-related ankle injury. Representing the defendant at hearings: securing disclosure of medical evidence the claimant had gathered but not disclosed; resisting applications for expert vocational and employment evidence; resisting application to rely on various witness statements; preventing the claimant relying on certain medical evidence. Peter represented his client at JSM and negotiated settlement for only £290,000, approximately 25% of pleaded value.

For Claimants:

  • Acting for a construction worker in his 30s who had one artificial eye since childhood and suffered a severe penetrating injury to his other eye in a building site accident. Led by Richard Lynagh QC. The case settled at a JSM for £1.4m.
  • Acting for a woman in her 30s who was deliberately run over and suffered major pelvic injuries. She developed chronic pain, urinary difficulties and psychological injuries. The case settled at JSM for £700,000.
  • Representing a man in his 40s with severe learning difficulties who broke his hip at a swimming pool when left unattended by his carers. The case was settled for £200,000.
  • Acting for a professional man in his 40s in a high-value claim arising out a severe knee injury sustained in a road traffic accident (settled for £200,000 days before trial).

In the sporting arena, Peter has experience of claims from gymnastics lessons, numerous cycling accidents and It’s-a-Knockout activity days.

In addition, Peter has experience of CRU appeals and CICA claims.

Selected Cases

  • Furnell v. Flaherty t/a Godstone Farm [2013] EWHC 377 (QB) (led by Jonathan Waite QC) – following the outbreak of E.coli at Godstone Farm. The case concerned whether the Health Protection Agency or the local council’s environmental health officers owed a duty of care to visitors to the farm in tort.
  • John Ruskin College v. Harley [2013] EWHC 3714 (QB) – recovery of money mistakenly paid out of Court to claimant.
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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)

 

Recommendations


“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

“Always goes the extra mile for his clients.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020


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