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About Andrew James

Andrew has acted for injured claimants for more than 30 years and has vast experience in high value road traffic accidents, employers’ liability and occupier’s liability litigation. He has worked previously at Thompsons, Rowley Ashworth, Fentons and Slater & Gordon and for the past 25 years has specialised in industrial disease and asbestos disease cases.

Andrew has written for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers journal and is an APIL Accredited Occupational Disease Specialist and Asbestos Disease Specialist. He has acted for numerous clients from asbestos charities in the UK and Australia and regularly attends the Asbestos Sub-Committee of the All Party Parliamentary Group at the House of Commons.

Andrew specialises in cases involving:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos disease
  • Industrial disease
  • Employers’ liability
  • Occupiers’ liability

 

"You have helped us navigate a difficult time in our lives with compassion and clear advice, thank you very much indeed."

Memberships & Appointments

  • Member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
  • Accredited Occupational Disease Specialist
  • Accredited Asbestos Disease Specialist
  • Member of Chartered Institute of Legal Executives

"Easy to talk to and compassionate for me, explained everything fully and in plain English."

Notable Cases

Andrew acted for Jonathan Woods, a forensic CID officer of the Anti Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police, who attended the scene of the Brighton Bombing in 1984. He and his fellow officers, seeking forensic evidence, removed by hand tons of rubble and dust that had collapsed from the floors above into the basement. The dust raised by their work was so heavy that they often had to stop to allow the dust to settle as they could not see the floor where they were working. For the first two days he worked without any respiratory protection. Two days after they started blue asbestos dust was discovered in the rubble and although the officers were provided with slightly better masks no adequate protection was provided for the remaining 14 days that they were in the basement.

Mr Woods developed Mesothelioma in 2015 and a claim was made against the Metropolitan Police and Sussex Police as neither admitted liability for their failure to protect him. Within the court procedure for mesothelioma claims is an early hearing called a “Show Cause” hearing. At this hearing the Defendants have to show that they have reasonable prospects of defending the claim and it is used to force the Defendants to show their case or concede liability.

Shortly before that hearing the Defendants admitted liability. Sadly Jonathan Woods died within days afterwards and the claim continues on behalf of his widow.

Although not an occupational disease case, Andrew is proud of the fact that he ran the case of Jolley v Sutton LBC all the way to the House of Lords.

The case had been turned down by his previous solicitor as having low prospects of success. It involved a young boy who was crushed and left paraplegic when an abandoned boat fell on him. He and his friend were trying to repair the boat while playing on a council estate. Although they won at first instance the Defendants appealed and won in the Court of Appeal.

They continued to fight the case and were successful in the House of Lords. The case has been widely reported as it is a leading case on the issues of foreseeability of injury in negligence.

Andrew acted for a retired teacher who spent her working life teaching science. After finishing her teacher’s training she eventually moved to the La Retraite High School in Sutton in 1972.

The school was run by the Inner London Education Authority and they adopted the Nuffield Combined Science and Biology Syllabuses as a method of teaching science. This involved the far more practical involvement of pupils in experiments. In the course of a each working day she would handle the asbestos mats placed under Bunsen burners as well as the asbestos impregnated gauzes used on top of the Bunsen tripods. Over time the mats became frayed and dust and fibres were given off from handling the mats. This was simply brushed off. She started to develop symptoms of chest pain and after extensive investigation she was given the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

Andrew pursued a claim for damages against her former employers. Although they have never admitted liability, ILEA’s solicitors made an offer to settle her claim in full within 11 months of the diagnosis, but sadly she had died from the disease the day before, aged 72. Her husband used the compensation to set up a fund in his wife’s name to help public awareness of this disease and to provide assistance and support.

Andrew’s client was employed by the Ministry of Defence as a civilian employee at Chatham Dockyard, Kent between 1962-73. He worked as a shipwright on Royal Navy ships.

He did refurbishment and maintenance work fixing and repairing steel plates and pipework. The ships had lots of asbestos lagging on plates and steam pipes running through them. This was disturbed when repairs were carried out, exposing his client to airborne fibres. He was not given any protection against the dust. He became breathless in summer of 2017 at age 70 and when he was eventually diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2018 he instructed HJA. A claim was made to the Ministry of Defence within a week of instruction and while they investigated liability, Andrew obtained supportive reports from a medical expert who confirmed that his client had a very limited life expectation.

Court proceedings were issued to take advantage of the High Court rules for mesothelioma claims. The system fast tracks cases with a system of “show cause” hearings to help to separate those cases defended by simple denial and those where there is really an actual defence to a claim. In cases where the defendants cannot identify the evidence to show they have a real prospect of success in defending the claim the court will enter judgment for the claimant and order an interim payment.

At the show cause hearing, Andrew obtained judgment against the Defendant and obtained an interim payment of £50,000. Directions were given and a date in November for a hearing to assess damages. His client had already undergone chemotherapy. Although his condition had remained stable no second line treatment is available for mesothelioma under the NHS. Andrew had obtained a report from an oncologist recommending treatment with immunotherapy, at a cost of around £8000 a cycle, in the event that his condition started to progress. Although immunotherapy treatment is available under the NHS for lung cancer it is not yet available for mesothelioma patients.

In the weeks before the Assessment of Damages hearing Andrew’s client’s condition started to worsen. He arranged for immunotherapy treatment to be started privately, using the interim payment he had received. The costs of each cycle of treatment were added back into the claim.

Prior to the assessment of damages hearing, the Defendant entered into negotiations and the case was settled for a six figure sum in addition to an indemnity, whereby the Defendant agreed to continue indemnifying the Claimant in respect of his future treatment costs. So far our client has responded to immunotherapy and he will be able to continue with private medical treatment for as long as it will be needed.

Andrew acted for a man who was exposed to asbestos during incarceration as a prisoner between 1965-1971. During his time in prison he was put to work as a labourer carrying out extensive refurbishment work in the prison.

Although still an inmate he was technically employed by the Prison Service and thus the Ministry of Justice during this work. He worked at all times under the direction and supervision of the prison officers and contractors. His work brought him into frequent contact with substantial quantities of asbestos dust and fibre from lagging on heating pipework. In 2017, at age 76, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

After discussing his work history and his exposure during his time in prison a claim was made to the Ministry of Justice. Medical evidence was obtained and a full schedule of loss prepared and sent to the MOJ. However they denied liability. They produced a substantial amount of documentation relating to later works carried out at the prison, however these also revealed some evidence of earlier asbestos within the prison which tended to corroborate our client’s version of events. The allegation against the MOJ was that at the time of his employment asbestos posed a foreseeable risk of injury and that it was well known that mesothelioma could be caused by exposures to asbestos of shorter duration and at concentrations of dust lower than that required to produce other asbestos related diseases.

The MOJ at all times owed him a common-law duty of care to prevent exposure or reduce exposure to all forms of asbestos to the minimum that was reasonably practicable from the commencement of his employment. The MOJ disagreed with our views of the claim and in view of their denial court proceedings were issued. Using the fast track procedure for mesothelioma claims in the High Court the case was listed for a show cause hearing and we obtained judgment on the issue of liability together with an interim payment of damages of £50,000. The case was listed for a hearing for an assessment of damages. We had included with the claim the cost of future non NHS treatments for mesothelioma. This included the potential costs of immunotherapy, which is usually about £8000 a cycle.

Fortunately our client’s condition had remained stable. The solicitors acting for the MOJ wished to discuss the case and a Joint Settlement Meeting was arranged. During the course of negotiations a six figure offer was put forward which included a lump sum to pay for future treatment. This option was accepted by our client who will now be able to control what future treatment he needs as and when it becomes necessary.

Client Comments

  • “I just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work over the last two years. I can see how your work can be very frustrating and keep having to update cases especially with the inevitable ill health of most clients. Thank you once again for all your help and support.” – Keir Stanley
  • “My husband certainly should not have died from something he encountered when he was so very young. Still seems unbelievable. You and your colleagues have done an excellent job for myself and my family. Thank you” – Elizabeth Allen 
  • “I would like to thank and very much recommend Andrew James, Philip Unciano and their team for the great service they provided when claiming for my dads industrial illness, I had constant reassurance and updates all the way, explained in detail and with understanding, I can’t thank them enough for what they have done. Many, many thanks. 5* service.” – Jo Silk

“Easy to talk to and compassionate for me, explained everything fully and in plain English. Very prompt service, professional and pleasant to deal with throughout.”

“We are extremely grateful for all the assistance you have given us – such an efficient service with excellent communication throughout. You have helped us navigate a difficult time in our lives with compassion and clear advice, thank you very much indeed.”

 

“Andrew James worked three and a half years on my case, and I cannot praise him enough. A very pleasant, helpful man. Very good at what he does, he knows more than most about the laws in the cases he deals with. I would recommend him to anybody and everybody. He visited my house on about three occasions. Always kept me informed on the progress of the case. He also got the very best in to get the evidence needed for the case. I cannot thank Andrew James enough for the work he has done. Top man, top solicitor, top person and I am forever grateful to him.”

 

“From our first meeting with Andrew James we received excellent service, efficient, prompt, kind and very understanding due to the nature of this case. He would always explain things in detail, nothing was too much trouble and would like to thank him very much. My husband would have been very proud of the outcome of his case.”

“Andrew James came to my house and did a thorough history of my working life to establish all the facts he could. He kept in contact so I knew the progress at all times. He was always very helpful. I am very happy with the settlement he obtained for me. I will have no worries for my wife in her future.”

Personal Interests

Andrew enjoys mountain biking, skiing and reading.

"From our first meeting with Andrew James we received excellent service, efficient, prompt, kind and very understanding due to the nature of this case."