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Suzanne Chalmers

Call 1995

"Proficient in handling property-related and business interruption claims."
(Legal 500)

Insurance & Reinsurance

Suzanne acts in relation to all types of policy dispute (non-marine), including all risks, property damage, professional indemnity, personal accident and motor. She is regularly instructed by a number of well-known insurers, including Aviva, AXA, NIG, NFU and Zurich Municipal, as well as Lloyds Syndicates: she handles both coverage disputes and subrogated claims. Policy issues that commonly arise include policy wording, non-disclosure and misrepresentation, the operation of conditions precedent or warranties, proximate cause and double insurance. She has developed particular expertise in cases, which involve allegations of fraud.

Selected Cases

  • Acting for insurers in defence of a claim by a well-known former racing driver for a fixed sum of £2 million under a personal accident policy.
  • Acting for insurance brokers in £1 million claim in the Commercial Court against insurers and brokers arising out of a fire at commercial premises. The issues included the materiality of non-disclosures and inducement.
  • Advising insurers in connection with their exposure to claims arising out of the PIP breast implant litigation.
  • Advising insurers as to their liability to indemnify their insured for stock losses in excess of the £1 million cover provided following a warehouse fire. The case turned upon the correct interpretation of the scope of cover provided under the business interruption section of the policy.
  • Defending a public liability insurance claim arising out of the North Wales Child Abuse Litigation. Issues included proof of the existence of policy over 40 years after the event, insurers’ liability for deliberate acts and the recoverability of costs following late disclosure of material documents (KR v Bryn Alyn (Community Holdings) Ltd [2008] EWHC 2909).
  • Defending a claim against insurers following a fire at a public house on the grounds that the fire had been deliberately set. The claim was resolved without payment to the insured.
  • Defending a substantial claim against insurers arising out of a fire at domestic premises said to contain valuable antiques. Insurers alleged material non-disclosure / misrepresentation.
  • Junior Counsel in a claim for material damage and business interruption arising out of the loss of a tethered helium balloon when it escaped from its moorings near Tower Bridge.
  • Shinedean Ltd v Alldown Demolition (London) Ltd & AXA Insurance UK Ltd [2006] 1 WLR 2696 (CA) – A £700,000 claim by third party against insurers arising out of negligent demolition of property by contractor. An important case dealing with the meaning and operation of claims co-operation conditions.
  • England v Guardian Insurance [2000] Lloyds Rep IR 404 – Claim against insurers and construction professionals following subsidence of property involving issues of subrogation and the extent of insurers’ rights over recoveries.

Civil/Insurance Fraud

Suzanne is a senior junior with extensive personal injury experience. She conducts claims of the highest value both in Court and at settlement meetings, and is regularly instructed against leading Counsel. Over the years, many of her cases have involved issues of fraud, dishonesty and exaggeration, requiring careful forensic examination of underlying documents such as medical records, social security records and social media posts, and robust cross-examination.

She has an associated specialism in insurance law and, in particular cases of insurance fraud, which has provided her with valuable additional experience in alleging and proving fraud. She has a particular interest in cases involving the doctrine, ex turpi causa (a Claimant may not rely upon his own fraud), and has appeared in several of the leading Court of Appeal cases in this area. She is frequently asked to advise as to whether the doctrine can apply in a particular case. Currently, she handles many substantial cases in which credibility is in issue, for example those involving allegations of subtle brain injury, functional neuro- logical disorder, somatoform disorder, hysteria and chronic pain and frequently works with experienced teams of experts to ascertain whether symptoms are organic or psychological in origin, or simply made up.

Recent cases:

  • Gicquel v Fleischman – Successfully defended a seven-figure claim by a Claimant sustained a serious injury to her leg when run over in London. She moved to Israel and investigations revealed that she had obtained employment and concealed that fact by changing her identity. Successfully argued for the claim to be dismissed at trial when the Claimant herself did not attend, but instead instructed her legal team to seek an adjournment on the grounds of alleged incapacity.
  • Tobias v Easyjet – With Steven Snowden, successfully defended a multi-million pound claim by a quadriplegic Claimant who alleged that his condition had deteriorated following a fall when being lifted from an aircraft. Claimant failed to attend trial.
  • Defending a claim by an interior designer who alleged that she has suffered a serious brain injury. Achieved an advantageous settlement, having established that her symptoms were essentially functional in origin.
  • Acting on behalf of houseowners, whose insurance claim has been declined on the grounds of alleged fraudulent exaggeration of their claim.
  • Defending a claim by a Claimant who developed alleged severe reflex sympathetic dystrophy and walked on crutches following a minor soft tissue injury to his foot sustained on a construction site.

Reported cases on ex turpi causa / causation:

  • Beaumont and O’Neill v Ferrer [2014] EWHC 2398 (QB), [2015] PIQR P2, [2017] PIQR 1 – Defending claims by two Claimants both of whom suffered severe brain injuries when jumping from a moving Successfully relied upon defences of causation and ex turpi causa, proving that the Claimants deliberately jumped from the taxi to avoid paying the fare.
  • Hicks v Young [2015] EWHC 1144 – With Richard Lynagh KC.
  • Joyce v O’Brien [2014] 1 WLR 70 (CA), [2012] EWHC 1234 (Cooke J) – With Richard Lynagh KC defending a claim for damages for a severe brain injury sustained by the Claimant who fell off the back of a van. The claim was successfully defeated relying upon the doctrine of ex turpi causa on the grounds that the Claimant and the driver were engaged in a common criminal enterprise.

Selected Cases

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  • Recorder (2009)
  • Awarded Lord Justice Holker Scholarship (1994)
  • MA (Hons), Magdalen College, Oxford (1994)


  • Commercial Bar Association
  • London Common Law & Commercial Bar Association
  • Personal Injury Bar Association
  • Professional Negligence Bar Association
  • Technology & Construction Bar Association


“Her analysis of cases and drafting of pleadings and other documents is extremely detailed and persuasive.”

Chambers & Partners, 2024

“Suzanne’s attention to detail and ability to get into the minutiae of the case quickly in order to make a difference to the final outcome sets her apart.”

Legal 500, 2024

“Suzanne is a very capable insurance coverage counsel, and pleasant to deal with.”

Legal 500, 2024

“Suzanne’s advice is very clear, straight to the point and very easy to follow. She is a good listener and very sympathetic.”

Legal 500, 2024

“She is helpful and delivers high-quality written advice.”

Chambers & Partners, 2022

“Knowledgeable competent and approachable.”

Legal 500, 2022

“Suzanne takes an excellent, thoughtful and methodical approach to cases.”

Legal 500, 2022

“She offers the sort of sound advice you hope for when going to a barrister, and really steps up when you need her.”

Chambers & Partners, 2021

“Extremely clever and the quality of her work (advice and drafting) is exceptionally good; at the same time, she can explain complex points of law in a way that can be understood. A credit to the Bar and her chambers.”

Legal 500, 2021

“She is a polished performer. She is extremely clever and the quality of her advice and drafting is exceptionally good and at the same time she can explain complex points of law in a way that can be understood.”

Legal 500, 2021

“She’s no-nonsense in terms of giving you good, straightforward advice. She’s not afraid to commit to a position.”; “She’s exceptionally user-friendly.”; “Highly intelligent, extremely meticulous and has a great grasp of very technical detail.”

Chambers & Partners, 2020

“Very forensic and thorough in her approach, she is easy to deal with and extremely responsive.”

Chambers & Partners, 2018

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