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Gemma Witherington

Year of call: 2008

Gemma Witherington
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"Her attention to detail is exceptional"

Legal 500

She is a rising star and a real fighter

Legal 500

She is a very determined advocate and really fights her client’s corner

Legal 500

A thorough and balanced barrister who maintains a calm presence and ensures all angles are thoroughly explored

Legal 500

For a number of years, Gemma has been recommended as a leading junior by Legal 500. She specialises in personal injury, clinical negligence, insurance, professional negligence, and costs. She also sits as both a Deputy District Judge and Recorder for Civil work.

She has extensive experience of acting for both Claimants and Defendants and is also experienced in group litigation and all matters of civil procedure. She is known for her forensic abilities and she has a sharp eye for detail.

The Legal 500 have described Gemma as “a rising star and a real fighter and “… an astute thinker”. It also notes she is “Very good at giving direct, sensible and pragmatic advice”. She is ranked for Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury, and Insurance Fraud.

She is known for being approachable, client focused and is never afraid of a challenge. She is sought after by clients for her ability to deliver robust and clear advice.

She is asked to speak at numerous training events and seminars, and gives webinars for Thomson Reuters, APIL, and MBL.

Clinical Negligence

Gemma has extensive experience of clinical negligence work for Claimants and Defendants in a wide range of fields including claims involving obstetrics, orthopaedics, oncology, gynaecology, paediatrics, neurology, urology, and general surgery.

She is frequently instructed to attend joint settlement meetings on negligent provision of treatment; catastrophic brain injuries caused at birth; failure to diagnose cancer and the negligent execution of cosmetic and gastric surgery; death resulting from delayed cancer diagnosis, loss of sight cases, wrongful birth, suicide attempts and other negligence.

She also advises on the issues that commonly arise in disease claims, including causation and evidence including technical/scientific expert evidence, parties, limitation, and apportionment. She regularly advises the NHSR on tactical, quantum and liability issues.

Examples of recent work:

  • JK v Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (2021) instructed in this High Court case to act for the Defendant where the Claimant’s baby died shortly after birth as a result of obstetric negligence. A claim has been brought by the father of the child on the basis that he has suffered personal injuries arising from the psychiatric shock. The father is a well-known international actor, who alleges he lost the chance of significant earnings in Hollywood/blockbuster films on account of his injuries. Listed for trial High Court Spring 2021.
  • Uriely v Royal Free NHS Hospital Foundation Trust (2021) instructed to defend a claim by the parents of a deceased child, who died aged 9 years old after suffering a fatal asthma attack. Listed for trial autumn 2021.
  • Scott v London Centre of Aesthetics Surgery (2021) Appeared in the High Court for a plastic surgeon accused of malpractice in breast augmentation and assault. Claim successfully settled.
  • Katy Richards v Cornwall Hospital Trust (2021) Instructed to represent the Defendant NHS Trust in this case where it is alleged that the Claimant’s daughter died because of neglect by the Hospital. Claim is ongoing.
  • Lisa Redmond v Graham Copeland (2021) Instructed to represent the Defendant, a renowned Oncologist, who is accused of failing to identify breast cancer when the Claimant reported to him that she had identified a lump in her breast. The Claimant alleges that she was wrongly reassured and later went on to develop aggressive breast cancer, which is likely to be fatal. Claim is ongoing.
  • S v Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Trust (2020) acted as junior for the Defendant in this alleged secondary victim claim. The Claimant’s wife died from sepsis in the early stages of pregnancy and an inquest found the Defendant had missed several opportunities to save her life. The case is ongoing.
  • Omoroghomwan v North Middlesex University Hospital Trust (2019) instructed to represent the estate of the Claimant, who was overlooked in an A&E cubicle and found dead with rigor mortis 4 hours after suffering a heart attack. Case successfully settled.
  • ML v Grimsby Maternity Trust (2019) instructed on behalf of the Claimant whose baby was stillborn following negligent care at the Defendant hospital. Case successfully settled.
  • RM v South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (2019) Advised the NHSR in respect of the alleged failure to diagnose and treat a patient who left A&E and committed suicide. Case successfully settled.
  • Bonner Williams v East Sussex Health Care NHS Trust (2019) Represented a Claimant who had suffered a twisted testicle and alleged the Hospital failed to diagnose and treat his condition, leading to gangrene and the loss of a testicle and reduced fertility and erectile dysfunction. Case successfully settled.


Gemma is instructed in all forms of occupational and environmental disease litigation, in particular claims involving exposure to asbestos, industrial solvents, dermatitis and asthma claims, noise-induced hearing loss and vibration white finger, cancers, carbon monoxide exposure, back injuries, upper limb disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome and hand arm vibration syndrome.

Cases include:

  • Acted for a large university’s Defendant’s insurers in defending claims of asbestosis which occurred during the construction of a science block in the 1980s.
  • Acted for a Defendant in respect of a claim alleging occupationally induced asthma arising out of alleged exposure to dust in dockyards in the 1960’s.
  • Acted for a Defendant employer in respect of NIHL claim on a construction site in the 1990’s.
  • Successfully defended a claim for HAVS brought by a mechanic against a former employer in respect of work on large machinery.
  • Successfully defended a claim brought against the local council in respect of carbon monoxide poisoning.


Gemma has extensive experience of cases involving allegations of fraud or exaggeration and often involving technical expert reconstruction evidence. She is ranked in Tier 1 of the Legal 500 for fraud work.

She is regularly involved in the management of high-value and document heavy claims, including those where fraud is alleged in road traffic claims, including staged accidents (including fraud rings), slam-on accidents, phantom passenger claims and low velocity impacts.

She was instructed in the leading case of Accident Exchange Ltd v Broom [2017] EWHC 1096 on behalf of the one of seven Defendants in a civil contempt of court action in the High Court arising out of the Accident Exchange litigation. This multi-party action required delicate cross-party co-operation and meticulous analysis of the evidence.

Her core specialisms include:

  • Exaggeration
  • Fraud
  • Findings of fundamental dishonesty claims
  • Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015
  • Abuse of process applications
  • Fraud rings
  • Late discontinuance in the face of allegations of fraud
  • Committal proceedings
  • Costs issues relating to fraudulent claims.

Recent cases:

  • Debar v DTZ Management Services (2021) Acting for the Defendant in this claim for damages following a staged accident at work. The Claimant alleged that he slipped over on a patch of water at the Defendant shopping centre and suffered life changing injuries and was unable to work again. Gemma drafted a robust Defence pleading fraud based on the covert surveillance evidence and Facebook material. The claim was withdrawn the day before trial.
  • Sarah Sentence v London Borough of Hillingdon (2021) representing the Claimant in this allegedly staged accident claim against her former employers. The Defendant alleged that the Claimant had contrived an accident because she was bitter about her treatment in general by her employer. Claim successful on liability and quantum trial listed in the spring of 2021.
  • Shona Simpson v Michael Payne (2021) represented the Claimant in the High Court to appeal of a finding of fundamental dishonesty.
  • Dutra v Aoi Nissay (2020) acted for the Defendant in this claim for damages following a staged road traffic accident. Gemma drafted a robust Defence pleading fraud based on the telematic data (black box) contained in the insured’s vehicle. Claim withdrawn based on the Defence.
  • Hassan v Tariq and Aoi Nissay (2020) acted for the Defendant insurer in this fraud ring of staged road traffic accidents where there is believed to be at least 15 other accidents in the same locality linking the same parties. Case ongoing.
  • Miss Groves and Mrs Groves v Red Sea Holidays (2019) instructed to represent the Defendant in this travel sickness claim where the Claimants (mother and daughter) had alleged that they had suffered severe food poisoning in Egypt whilst on holiday. Claim dismissed at trial.

Inquests & Inquiries

Gemma appears at lengthy and complex inquests, including jury inquests concerning the right to life. She has advised and represented bereaved families, individuals, statutory bodies, and corporate entities in cases covering a vast range of complex legal and factual issues. She often advises and represent parties through all stages of the civil litigation that can often follow an inquest.

She has advised and represented clients in connection with health and safety matters such as an explosion on a ship, fatal accidents in factories, a death in a lift shaft and mesothelioma claims.

Examples of recent work:

  • Acted for a lift engineering company at a 5-day jury inquest following the death of a man in a residential lift shaft. The case was extremely sensitive due to the nature of the death and the family circumstances, with HSE involvement in the background.
  • Instructed in a 5-day jury inquest to represent the family of a deceased navy officer following an explosion on a ship.
  • Acting for the family of a man who died following the incorrect insertion of a gastric feeding tube at Hospital. Gemma was instrumental in gaining a narrative verdict for the family and establishing changes of practices at the Hospital following his death.

Personal Injury

Gemma is recommended by Legal 500 as a leading individual in personal injury work.  She represents both claimants and defendants in fatal and catastrophic injury claims, including severe brain damage, spinal injuries, and amputations.  She has a particular interest in cases involving significant head injuries and is sought after for settling complex Schedules and Counter schedules.

She regularly acts for many leading insurers and is experienced in group litigation. Gemma is known for her fierce advocacy and unrivalled determination to get the best results for her clients as well as for her calm manner and eye for detail.

Her core specialisms include:

Fatal Accident claims: Gemma advises on claims brought by and against Estates for bereavement damages. This often involves complex work on schedules of loss or counter schedules.

Secondary Victim claims: Gemma has advised the NHSR, NHS Wales and Claimants in respect of the prospects of success of bringing secondary victim claims, where complex issues arise in respect of whether an event in sufficiently shocking, proximity in space and time and causation.

Occupational stress: Gemma has settled and advised on many claims for occupational stress and harassment with complex medical causation issues and novel issues of quantum.

Catastrophic injuries: Gemma has considerable experience of catastrophic spinal and brain injury litigation encompassing severe cognitive conditions arising in the context of road traffic accidents and employers’ liability claims; and in the analysis of high value complex claims.  She is instructed for her success in mediations in difficult cases such as serious fatal accidents and to attend round table settlement meetings. Gemma understands the emotional difficulties involved in catastrophic cases and the need for sensitivity when dealing with clients.

Motor accidents: Gemma has extensive experience of cases involving allegations of fraud or exaggeration and often involving technical expert reconstruction evidence.

Occupiers and vicarious liability claims: Gemma has broad experience for both Defendants and Claimants in occupier’s liability cases.

Animals Act and dog bite claims: Gemma has represented numerous Claimants who have suffered serious life changing injuries from dog bites; and serious injuries from falls and bites from horses.

Examples of work

  • Aylse McCamish and Sydney Feder v Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (2021) instructed to represent the Claimants in an action for mishandling of sexual abuse claims against the Defendant college. Case is ongoing.
  • JK v Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (2021) instructed to act for the Defendant NHSR where the Claimant’s baby died shortly after birth as a result of obstetric negligence. A claim has been brought by the father of the child on the basis that he has suffered personal injuries arising from the psychiatric shock. The father is a well-known international actor, who alleges he lost the chance of significant earnings in Hollywood/blockbuster films on account of his injuries. Listed for trial High Court Spring 2021.
  • The Estate of Frederick Oborne v Berkshire Hathaway International Insurance (2021) instructed to represent the estate of the deceased following a horrific road traffic accident where a man was decapitated at the scene of the accident when his bike was struck by the Defendant driver. Case is ongoing.
  • Pamela Menzies v Doggie Holiday Homes and others (2021) Instructed on behalf of the First to Third Defendants in this Animal’s Act claim. The Claimant was knocked over in the park by the Fourth Defendant’s dog causing lifelong injuries. Claim successfully dismissed at trial.
  • The estate of Harry Rice and others v Mr Chudasama (2021) Instructed to represent three bereaved families whose children were killed in a fatal car accident in 2018. Claim ongoing.
  • D’Agostino v Caroline Farthing and Farthing Flowers Limited (2021) instructed to represent the Claimant in a claim for damages where he fell down a set of stairs at an Ottolenghi Deli and severed an artery in his arm. He nearly died due to the blood loss and the injury had life changing consequences. Gemma succeeded in establishing liability and a significant damages award.
  • Ms Carrie Brett and others v Mr Shiva Sing and others (2020) instructed as junior in this Group Litigation action against a number of surgeons who are accused of negligent supply of PIP breast implants causing injury.
  • Vallens v Oxted School (2019) Instructed by the Claimant when she was struck on the head in the course of her employment duties at work and has suffered a serious brain injury and impairment of cognitive function. Reconstruction evidence, primary liability, apportionment, and quantum were all in issue. Claim successfully settled.
  • Clark v Warmlington Methodist Church (2019) instructed to represent the Defendant in this public liability claim for a trip in a town hall. The claim was dismissed following trial.
  • Mrs Sandhu v Alliance Bernstein Limited (2019) instructed on behalf of the Defendant in this psychiatric injury claim brought by the Claimant against her former employer. There were serious allegations of abuse against employees of the Defendant and the Police were investigating the allegations, which had racist and sexist undertones.

Other cases include:

  • Appeared in the High Court and represented two of seven Defendants in a multi-million-pound personal injury case against an alleged designer and manufacturer of a defective fairground ride.
  • Instructed to advise the National Research Council of Great Britain in respect of an injury sustained by one of their employees in Antarctica during a research mission.
  • Representing the Claimant, a young man under the age of 30, in the High Court who has suffered a brain injury following a head on collision at 80 mph. The case involved loss of cognitive function, long term care issues and complex loss of a chance arguments.

Product Liability

Gemma has experience in product liability work involving complex technical, engineering and design issues, causing serious personal injuries, property damage and business interruption.

Her recent cases have involved defective tyre claims; vehicle fires and other defects in vehicles; fire damage claims arising from faulty equipment; a fire on board a dredger ship arising from faulty fuel lines causing significant damage, and faulty playground equipment.

In 2021, Gemma is instructed by Baldwins Crane Hire in respect of a claim brought by QBE insurance regarding a large wheel coming lose from a mobile crane on the motorway. The wheel caused extensive property damage and several road traffic accidents.

In 2020, Gemma was instructed as junior in the Group Litigation case of Ms Carrie Brett and others v Mr Shiva Sing and others action against several surgeons who are accused of negligent supply of PIP breast implants causing injury.

Insurance Coverage

Gemma’s insurance practice frequently involves advice and litigation relating to policy coverage and the construction of policy wording. She has advised on:

  • Actions for negative declaratory relief;
  • Fire and flood claims;
  • Claims arising under permanent health insurance policies where parties or estates have been refused coverage or settlements;
  • Represented insurers in motor policy disputes and employer’s liability cases;
  • Policy disputes arising out of alleged fraud and material non-disclosure;
  • Motor insurance disputes arising in relation to policy coverage and the MIB Agreement.

In 2021, Gemma has advised various insurers including Beazley and Davies Group in respect of a variety of policy claims. Many of the cases are highly confidential and the full details cannot be shared.

Insurance Funded Disputes

Gemma is regularly involved in claims involving insurers, details of which can be found in the CDR, Clinical Negligence & Personal Injury and Professional Liability sections of her profile.

Banking & Finance

Prior to joining the Bar, Gemma worked in the litigation department at an international bank which gives her a clear understanding of the pressures involved for clients in the conduct of litigation.

Gemma is instructed by leading banks and lenders in relation to loans, mortgages and guarantee disputes. She is well regarded for her work in enforcement proceedings, including applications for charging orders and freezing injunctions in the High Court. She acts in strike out and summary judgment applications for large banks.

Her core specialisms include:

  • The Consumer Credit Act 1974
  • Claims for the recovery of unauthorised payments
  • Data Protection Act compliance and confidentiality issues
  • Financial Services and Markets Act
  • Mis-selling of investment products including interest rate hedging and derivatives
  • Liabilities for dishonest assistance and knowing receipt
  • Applications for freezing injunctions
  • Claims for breach of warranty
  • Factoring and invoice discounting
  • Financial mis-selling claims
  • Professional negligence involving lenders and banks, financial advisers and valuers.

Civil Fraud & Asset Tracing

Gemma has extensive experience in dealing with civil fraud cases including domestic and international fraud and has obtained freezing orders and injunctions and pre-action disclosure in order to preserve assets where there is an evasive party to a claim.

Her core specialisms include:

  • Misappropriation by directors, trustees and other fiduciaries
  • Conversion and wrongful interference with goods
  • Damages for deceit
  • Dishonest assistance and knowing receipt
  • Wrongful payment and collection of cheques
  • Fraudulent insurance claims
  • Freezing and asset preservation orders
  • Search and seizure orders.

Commercial Litigation

Gemma’s background working in house at an international bank, gives her commercial experience well in advance of her contemporaries. She understands the economic realities of litigation, seeking resolution by negotiation where appropriate and to provide sound and reliable tactical advice.

Her core specialisms include:

Contract/general commercial litigation: Gemma has considerable experience drafting defences and managing a variety of claims including contractual and tortious disputes, commercial contract, joint ventures, partnerships, shareholder and directors’ disputes, agency and franchise disputes.

She has significant expertise advising and drafting in breach of contract and misrepresentation claims and Sale of Goods Act 1974 and the Supply of Services Act 1982.  She has also successfully defended clients in claims for faulty workmanship and defective products.

Consumer rights: Gemma has in depth knowledge and experience of claims under section 75, 77 and 78 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. She has appeared on behalf of Banks in the High Court on various hearings and at mediations. She has experience advising and drafting on: mistaken payments; dishonoured cheques; debt recovery; mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance; Data Protection Act applications; hire purchase and return of goods hearings.

Companies, Joint Ventures & Partnerships

Gemma has advised in a wide range of directors and shareholder disputes, which regularly involve complex issues involving insolvency, fraud, trusts and property rights.

Her core specialisms include:

  • Unfair prejudice petitions
  • Directors’ conduct and duties and disqualification proceedings
  • Liability to third parties
  • Claims arising out of joint venture agreements
  • Disputes concerning shareholders’ agreements or relating to the company’s articles of association
  • Issues of shares by directors in breach of authorisation or pre-emption provisions or for an improper purpose;
  • Claims by shareholders against directors.

For example, she appeared in the High Court case of Elliot Harry Green (as Liquidator of Sports Management Group Limited) v Richard Marston, Wayne Lochner, (2016). A three-day trial in the High Court involving alleged breaches of directors’ duties to a company and issues of insolvency.

Employment & Executive Disputes

Gemma has expertise in the ‘crossover’ area of work between employment and commercial law, often involving employee competition, restrictive covenants, whistleblowing or breach of shareholder/director’s duties.

She also acts for both applicants and respondents in cases involving unfair and wrongful dismissal, unlawful deductions from wages, redundancy and all forms of discrimination. She has appeared in the High Court, County Courts, Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. She is well practised in drafting compromise agreements.

Her core specialisms include:

  • Injunctive Relief & Employee Competition
  • Employment status
  • TUPE
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • All forms of discrimination; Pregnancy, Disability, Race, Sex, Age, Sexual Orientation and Religious
  • Equal Pay
  • Industrial Action
  • Wrongful Dismissal
  • Restrictive Covenants,
  • Confidential Information and Garden Leave
  • Victimisation

Costs Litigation

Gemma is regularly instructed in costs disputes in the Senior Courts Costs Office, the High Court and the County Courts. She has considerable experience of detailed assessments of costs, acting for paying and receiving parties. She was recently instructed in the Privy Council in respect of a detailed assessment of costs.

In addition, she has litigated matters such as wasted costs orders; the premature issue of proceedings and the effect of Part 36 offers. She has also advised on the recoverability of ATE premiums and CFA funding arrangements and on issues of proportionality.

Her work also includes:

  • Costs management under the recent CPR 3.12-3.18
  • Costs budgeting and CCMCS
  • Costs capping orders under CPR 3.19.
  • Disputes arising from CFAs and DBAs following the Jackson reforms.
  • All matters arising under pre-April 2013 CFAs.
  • Application and interpretation of principles and rules on costs – e.g. the indemnity principle, scope of Part 36.
  • Detailed assessment hearings – both where points of principle are raised and the more standard assessment hearings.

Gemma has also delivered numerous seminars on the nature and effect of Part 36. Her recent blog article on Part 36 case law appears on Lexis Nexis.

Examples of notable work include:

  • Kagalovsky and Balmore v Wilcox and others [2015] EWHC 1337 (QB). Gemma acted as junior in one of the largest wasted costs cases reported.
  • Silver Point Condominium Apartments v Swart and others JCPC 2013/0073, in 2016, Gemma has represented the Appellant in an assessment of costs in the privy council.
  • Representing the Claimant in a dispute about the validity of a Part 36 offer and whether it is capable of acceptance. The case involves detailed analysis of both Part 36 and the common law regime of settlement.

Directory recommendations

  • ” A thorough and balanced barrister who maintains a calm presence and ensures all angles are thoroughly explored.”
  • Her drafting style is clear and persuasive. She is very personable and easy to work with. She is excellent at responding quickly to enquiries. She has a good rapport with clients and is not afraid to take on difficult cases.”
  • She has the knowledge and experience of breaking down complex legal and factual issues.”
  • Her attention to detail is exceptional.”
  •  “She is a rising star and a real fighter.”
  • “She is a real fighter and an astute thinker”.
  • “Very good at giving direct, sensible and pragmatic advice”.
  • “She is a very determined advocate and really fights her client’s corner”.

Judicial appointments

  • Deputy District Judge
  • Recorder in Civil work, and private and public family law

Professional associations

  • The Honourable Society of Inner Temple
  • Personal Injury Bar Association
  • Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
  • Commercial Bar Association


  • BA (Hons)
  • PgdDip
  • BVC: Very competent
  • Inner Temple Exhibition Award 2007-2008
  • Streuben Benefactor Award 2007- 2008