About James Bell
James is a partner in the Medical Negligence team at HJA; joining the firm in May 2017. He has undertaken medical negligence cases for over 20 years.
Throughout his career James has dealt with a range of cases concerning all types of claims – delayed diagnosis cases, birth injuries, anaesthetic injuries, surgical errors, hospital negligence and all types of cancer cases.
He has pursued cases against NHS and private hospitals, General Practitioners and many disciplines of private treatment providers. In addition, he has extensive experience of hip and knee replacement surgery claims.James joined Hodge Jones & Allen from Slater & Gordon Lawyers where he was head of their London clinical negligence team.
James has dedicated himself to assisting those who have been injured in medical accidents of all types. He takes great pride in adopting a mature, common sense approach to his work and recognises the stress of litigation upon all those involved in the process. His aim is always to try to quickly obtain a liability decision which can then allow interim payments to be made, to assist an injured person back to work, help secure more suitable accommodation or aids and equipment. He has a large number of contacts with good expert witnesses with whom he has worked for many years.
James is ranked in Chambers UK 2022 and recommended by Legal 500, 2022.
"He's absolutely fantastic and a real fighter for his clients." Chambers UK, 2022
"James Bell is hugely experienced, with great judgement and tactical nous. Fights hard for his clients and gets results. In addition to excellent case preparation skills he has a very nice manner with injury victims." Legal 500, 2022
“He has good client care skills and makes it an easy process for his clients. He’s also intuitive and has good judgement.” “He is a very smart guy and an able tactician. He is calm and reassuring but also pragmatic.” “He is incredibly caring towards his clients and nothing is too much trouble for him.”
Chambers UK, 2021
“hugely experienced and knowledgeable.”
Legal 500, 2021
“He is an excellent lawyer and procedurally is absolutely brilliant,”
Chambers UK, 2019
“warm, empathetic lawyer, who never forgets the personal dimension in each case”.
Legal 500, 2019
“supportive, sympathetic and approachable lawyer who is extremely knowledgeable in the area.”
Chambers UK, 2017
“excellent attention to detail and good judgement on liability issues.”
Legal 500, 2016
“very resolute for his clients.”
Chambers UK, 2016
“An immensely experienced, highly knowledgeable and very hard-working lawyer who has good judgement, a down-to-earth and approachable manner, and a lot of common sense too.”
Chambers UK, 2015
“a true professional who leaves no stone unturned.”
Legal 500, 2015
- In early May 2021, James settled a claim for a young man who suffered a brain injury at birth due to a delay in performing a caesarean section upon his mother. The claim settled the day before trial after prolonged negotiations. The Claimant received a substantial lump sum and annual payments for life, which, on a capitalised basis, are equivalent to an award of just under £21 million. This is one the largest ever awarded in the UK for this type of case.
- Cerebral palsy claim – In May 2019, James settled a claim for a young man who was brain damaged at birth due to his delayed delivery. The client resides outside of the UK but inside the EU and the settlement was therefore agreed by the NHS to be partly paid in euros and partly in sterling. The final award approved by the court was for lump sum payments of £3.3m sterling and €5m euros. Additionally the claimant will receive €355,900 per annum to fund his care package. The sums awarded by the court will secure this young man’s future care needs and enable the construction of a hydrotherapy pool at the rear of his purpose built wheelchair friendly bungalow.
- Nerve injury during routine orthopaedic surgery – £350,000 awarded to a young single mother patient who suffered a nerve injury during an open reduction and internal fixation of her humerus bone (insertion of a metal plate onto her upper arm bone).The case was strongly defended by the Defendant NHS Trust and settled shortly before trial.
- Nerve injury during spinal surgery – £250,000 awarded to a Claimant who suffered a nerve injury during spinal surgery. The surgeon concerned had used out of date instruments and had demonstrated poor technique and skill when undertaking complex spinal surgery. The patient suffered a nerve injury which left him with pain and weakness in his lower right leg after the procedure. This greatly restricted his employment as a steel worker. He was put on reduced hours and restricted duties and the value of the claim reflected the extent of his loss of promotion prospects.
- Death of Jehovah’s Witness following caesarean section – £870,000 awarded to the family of a Jehovah’s Witness mother who bled to death following her son’s birth. The baby was born by emergency caesarean and she suffered a haemorrhage soon afterwards. Staff at the Whittington Hospital had known throughout her pregnancy that she was a Jehovah’s Witness and would not accept blood transfusions. Her haemorrhage could have been treated with other options (other than a blood transfusion). It was established via expert evidence from three different experts that these other options could have saved her life but alternative treatment was not delivered quickly enough to prevent her from passing away. I acted for the father in this very tragic case.
- £8 million awarded to a child who suffered a brain injury due to delayed diagnosis. The mother was discharged from hospital and no midwife visited her in the first week of her new-born son’s life. When the midwife did attend she was unable to weigh the child as her scales were not working. She failed to recognise that the child had lost 20 % of his body weight and was dehydrated. The dehydration led to a condition known as hypernatraemia which in turn led to seizures and a severe brain injury.
- £4 million awarded to a child who suffered with a delayed diagnosis of meningitis. The period of delay was short but key medical reports in a number of disciplines were obtained which supported the case. The Claim was brought against the child’s GP. Crucial medical records were missing from the GP files and the case depended a good deal on detailed witness evidence from the mother and father of the injured child.
- £1.5 million awarded to double amputee for failure to diagnose and treat a blood clot in 2013. The injured party was the sole carer for his elderly mother and I worked quickly to secure an admission of liability that led to an early significant interim payment.
- £750,000 awarded to amputee following misdiagnosis of his chronic ischaemia as sciatica.
- £500,000 awarded to the family of a man who died after being negligently discharged from a psychiatric unit. The medical evidence I obtained indicated the correct diagnosis was that the patient was in the midst of a brief psychotic episode. He should have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 and has this been undertaken he was likely to have made a good recovery.
- £300,000 awarded to the dependants of a lady who killed herself after being denied admission to a mental health unit. A week long inquest established a number of supervision and training issues.
- £475,000 awarded to a 77 year old amputee. I was able to obtain an early admission of liability and quickly obtained evidence to support the claim for damages. Settlement was achieved only 11 months after the initial contact from the client.
- £250,000 awarded to a patient who suffered a minor frontal lobe hypoxia injury during a routine face lift procedure. Her blood pressure had not been adequately maintained during surgery.
- £500,000 awarded due to negligent failure to recognise the symptoms of a bowel perforation following a colonoscopy. The patient developed sepsis and this led to a condition known as ADEM (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis). She was left with complex mobility and brain injuries. The case was fully defended and settled one day before trial.
- £1m awarded to a patient who developed sepsis following the failure to provide antibiotics during a procedure to remove a kidney stone. The patient was unable to return to her work as a catering manager and was left with mobility problems.
- £575,000 awarded to a young lady who suffered an accessory nerve injury during a biopsy procedure. As a result of the injury the claimant suffered problems at work which were likely to hinder her chances of promotion.
- £250,000 awarded to a couple following the birth of their daughter. Negligent screening/counselling meant that it was not recognised that both parents were carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene and this, sadly resulted in their child being born with this condition.
- £250,000 awarded for the negligent failure to diagnose a sub arachnoid haemorrhage on two separate occasions at A & E in the space of a few days.
- £275,000 awarded to a patient who suffered an injury during gall bladder removal surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy). The patient alleged that there was a failure to correctly identify the anatomy during the procedure.
- £300,000 awarded to a patient who suffered from a collapsed spine due to negligent failure to diagnose her multiple myeloma. The failure to correctly assess an x-ray led to a 2 year delay in diagnosis. When the diagnosis was finally made there was then a further delay in undertaking the required spinal stabilisation surgery. The patient suffered a spinal cord injury due to the extensive delays in treatment.
- £475,000 awarded to the dependents of a young mother. The patient suffered a dural tap as a result of an epidural, which led to a build-up of fluid on her brain. She had been complaining of headaches since the birth and had also been vomiting, but because the information about the dural tap had not been passed to her GP, she had received no advice to admit herself if she felt unwell. Even when she was admitted there were considerable delays in her being transferred to a specialist neurosurgery unit which sadly led to her death.
- £250,000 awarded to the dependants of a man who died from malaria following a holiday to the Gambia. His classic malaria symptoms were misdiagnosed as food poisoning.
- Undertook and supervised 60 + claims on behalf of patients implanted with De Puy ASR hips 2010 – 2017.
- Undertook and supervised 70+ claims arising from the Potters Bar (2002) and Ladbroke Grove (1999) train crashes.
Articles & Publications
- LexisPLS – Brain-damaged child’s negligence claim fails on causation; 25 May 2018
“An immensely experienced, highly knowledgeable and very hard-working” lawyer who “has good judgement, a down-to-earth and approachable manner, and a lot of common sense too.” Chambers UK, 2015
Career & Personal Interests
- Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen
- Slater and Gordon, head of Clinical Negligence, London Office,2012 – 2017
- Russell Jones and Walker, head of Clinical Negligence (Partner 2008), 2007 – 2012
- Christian Khan Solicitors (partner 2002, equity partner 2005), 2000 – 2007
- Gammon Bell and Co, 1997 – 2000
- Admitted as a solicitor 1997
- College of St Mark and St. John, B.A. History and English – 1990
- College of Law, Guildford – CPE 1994
- College of Law, Guildford – LPC 1995
- Cycling, walking, camping holidays.