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Robert O’Leary

Call 1990

"An employment liability expert, who has experience of complex matters of significant value. He has handled group action litigations, industrial disease claims and cases relating to stress."
(Chambers & Partners 2016)

Robert O’Leary practises in the fields of personal injury and occupational disease, representing clients throughout the UK. He has acted on behalf of individuals, unions, insurers and institutions, including the UK and Welsh governments. He is involved in complex cases from early preparation to resolution. He has particular experience in group and multi-party litigation, occupational illness and disease work, including noise induced hearing loss, occupational cancers, asbestos related injuries, occupational respiratory disease, stress at work, hand arm vibration syndrome and work related upper limb disorders, as well as employer’s liability cases. He also acts in professional negligence actions arising out of personal injuries litigation.

Personal Injury

Robert is recognised as a leading practitioner in personal injury and occupational disease litigation. He has extensive experience in NIHL, asbestos related injuries, occupational cancers, occupational asthma, stress at work, HAVS and work-related upper limb disorders, as well as in employers’ liability, Animals Act, occupiers’ liability and other personal injury cases. His work often requires consideration of complex medical, engineering, occupational hygiene, toxicological and epidemiological evidence.

He acted for the Claimant in one of the leading cases to reach the Supreme Court on vicarious liability: Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 10 (Supreme Court).

Robert acts in a large number of asbestos related matters each year for Claimants and Defendants. He has been involved in a number of claims involving damages for immunotherapy treatment, including one in which a PPO was agreed to fund the Claimant’s on-going therapy.

In recent years, Robert has been particularly involved in group/multi-party/test disease litigation.

He was junior counsel for the claimants in the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Textile Litigation (Parkes v Meridian [2007] B1 (QB), in the Court of Appeal (Baker v Quantum Clothing Group [2009] EWCA 499) and culminating in Baker v Quantum Clothing Group and others [2011] UKSC 17 in the Supreme Court (700+ claimants, 7 test cases).

Robert was instructed by the government in Jones and others v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (The Phurnacite Workers Group Litigation) [2012] EWHC 2936 (QB), Swift J. (200+ claimants seeking damages for occupational cancer, COPD and asthma as a result of occupational exposures to dust and fumes).

Robert acted for the claimants in the Glamalco litigation (numerous former workers from an aluminium windows and doors factory suffering NIHL) and in the British Telecom “toneset” litigation (thousands of BT engineers who suffered NIHL as a consequence of using line testing equipment known as “tonesets”). He acted in the generic case of Robert Gary Watkins v BT (2010) (Cardiff County Court, 8CF08717) in which admissions of breach of duty for green and unmodified yellow tonesets were secured, thereby paving the way for thousands of former installers, engineers and jointers to obtain compensation for noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. He was also successful on behalf of a Claimant in what is thought to be the first case involving the moving of the 8kHz anchor point under the LCB Guidelines 2015 (Phillip Marchant v BT (2017) (Cardiff County Court, C91YJ273).

He acted in the South Wales Fire Fighter Deafness Litigation, and successfully represented three train drivers against Arriva Trains Wales in claims for upper limb disorders (Thomas and others v Arriva Trains Wales Ltd [2009] EW Misc 8 (EWCC), Lawtel AC0123076). He advised extensively on the recoverability of fixed success fees, dealing with the collation and preparation of complex medical and scientific evidence, and liaising with costs counsel, in the case of Dalton v BT [2015] EWHC 616(QB).

Robert has a detailed knowledge of limitation in personal injuries actions having been involved in numerous limitation disputes at first instance and in the Court of Appeal (for example, Furniss v Firth Brown Tools [2008] EWCA Civ 182 – noise induced hearing loss, in which Robert acted for the Claimant and which raised issues of limitation and the burden of proof – and Parsons and Warren v Perfectskill [2002] EWCA Civ 130 a claim in which he acted for the Defendants against a group of workers from a private mine who were claiming damages for industrial asthma).

He is currently representing numerous military claims of significant value for former military personnel who suffered NIHL and / or non-freezing cold injuries as a consequence of their service.

He writes the chapters in Munkman on Employer’s Liability dealing with Occupational Cancer and Third Party Violence at Work.

Selected Cases

  • Williams v Hawkes [2017] EWCA Civ 1846 – case dealing with the Animals Act 1971.
  • Cox v Ministry of Justice [2016] UKSC 10 (Supreme Court) [2014] 3 WLR 1036; [2014] ICR 713; [2014] PIQR P17; [2014] EWCA Civ 132, (Court of Appeal) – Vicarious liability of the Ministry of Justice for working prisoners.
  • Dalton v BT [2015] EWHC 616 (QB) – Advised extensively on the recoverability of fixed success fees, dealing with the collation and preparation of complex medical and scientific evidence, liaising with costs counsel, Ben Williams QC.
  • Various Claimants v British Telecommunications PLC (Toneset Cases) (on-going) – Multi-party litigation involving thousands of telecommunications engineers suing for noise induced hearing loss caused by the use of amplifier / oscillator equipment at work.
  • Jones & Others v Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change (The Phurnacite Workers Group Litigation) [2012] EWHC 2936 (QB), Swift J. (main judgment); 2 Costs LR 230; [2012] EWHC 3647 (QB) Swift J (costs); [2013] 3 All ER 1014; [2013] EWHC 1023 (QB), Swift J (disbursement credit funding) (Affirmed C.A. [2014] 3 All ER 956) – Group litigation in which hundreds of former Phurnacite workers or their estates sued in respect of occupational cancers and respiratory diseases.
  • PIP Breast Implant Litigation – Advising the Welsh Ministers on the recovery of the cost to the NHS of replacing defective implants.
  • Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Ltd [2011] UKSC 17 – Employers not liable 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.
  • McG v T (Court of Appeal, 2010) – RTA in Florida between two UK nationals: settled at Court of Appeal mediation May 2010.
  • Thomas & Others v Arriva Trains Wales Ltd [2009] EW Misc 8 (EWCC); Lawtel AC0123076 – Claims for train drivers who suffered upper limb disorders as a consequence of the controls in the cabs.
  • Jones v Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council [2009] RTR 13;[2008] EWCA Civ 1497 – Duties under the Highways Act 1980.
  • Carter v Freeman Group PLC [2008] EWHC 1752 (QB) (Appeal); (2007) Lawtel AC0116614 (First Instance) – Inheritance of liabilities in asbestos litigation; procedure on appeals in summary judgment applications.
  • Furniss v Firth Brown Tools [2008] EWCA Civ 182, C.A. – Limitation of actions in NIHL cases.
  • Lewis v National Assembly for Wales (2008), Lawtel AC0116055 – Occupier’s liability in respect of a disused highway in a catastrophic injury case.
  • Ezsias v National Assembly for Wales (2007), Lawtel AC0117319 – Duties of the National Assembly for Wales in respect of data protection.
  • Ball v Street [2005] EWCA Civ 76, [2005] PIQR P22, C.A. – Strict liability under PUWER.
  • Uphill v BRB Residuary [2005] EWCA Civ 60, [2005] 3 All ER 264; Times 8th February 2005; Independent 17th February 2005 – Guidelines case on second appeals.

Articles


News


Qualifications


  • 1989-90: Inns of Court School of Law Bar Vocational Course (7/800)
  • 1986-89: University of Wales, College Cardiff: LLB (first class)
  • Sir Samuel Evans Scholar (1989)
  • Sweet & Maxwell Law Prize (1989)
  • Cardiff University Law School Prize (1989)

Memberships


  • PIBA

Rankings


  • Robert is recommended as a leader in his field.
  • Robert is one of only about 20 barristers nationally to be listed in the Chambers & Partners National Disease Spotlight Table.

Recommendations


“He’s very quick with his responses and will fight his corner – he doesn’t drop a case he takes on.”

Chambers & Partners UK Bar

“He is brilliant on his feet and excellent with clients.”

Chambers & Partners UK Bar

“An employment liability expert, who has experience of complex matters of significant value. He has handled group action litigations, industrial disease claims and cases relating to stress. Strengths: ‘Very bright and very experienced as well.'”

Chambers & Partners 2016

“Undertakes the full spectrum of disease work, and is particularly noted for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the issues surrounding noise-induced hearing loss cases… He is very approachable and easy to work with.”

Chambers & Partners 2015

“Undertakes the full spectrum of disease work, and is particularly noted for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the issues surrounding noise-induced hearing loss cases… He is very approachable and easy to work with.”

Chambers & Partners 2015

“Experienced in group and multi-party litigation.”

Legal 500 2014

“Highlighted for his expertise of major disease cases. He also appeared in Baker v Quantum Clothing Group, illustrating that he is more than capable of taking on the best on a national stage.”

Chambers & Partners 2013

“Robert O’Leary has an impressive record in occupational illness and disease litigation.”

Legal 500 2013

He “has an excellent reputation for big ticket disease litigation.”

Chambers & Partners 2012

“Extremely efficient and always provides clear, pragmatic and detailed advice.”

Legal 500 2011


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