Call: 1998

Emma Zeb

Direct access
Emma Zeb
“A real superstar” Chambers UK

Practice overview

Emma is a highly experienced and well-respected barrister who has always successfully balanced a practice acting for both claimants and defendants in all types of personal injury and clinical negligence cases.  She is also a highly specialist inquest advocate, dealing with the most complex of inquest cases.

Consistently ranked  since 2008 by both Chambers UK and Legal 500 as a leader in all her practice areas, she is known for her user friendly yet no-nonsense approach and is a fierce and fearless advocate who is always meticulously prepared.

Emma has experience and expertise in all types of personal injury work (including all procedural and costs matters) but her seniority and ability particularly lends her to work at the complex and high value end of personal injury litigation including fatality cases.  She deals with all types of clinical negligence claims with particular experience in pressure sore cases and delayed cancer diagnosis cases.

She is a sought after and very experienced inquest advocate and regularly represents the interests of the bereaved family as well as public/private bodies and state agencies.   Her experience in and understanding of cases engaging Article 2 and often before a jury is first class both for the purposes of the inquest itself and any related litigation thereafter, including claims under the Human Rights Act.  She has been instructed in a number of high profile cases with related public inquiries and often stretching to many weeks.

Emma is a qualified mediator (see separate profile) and her experience in this regard complements and enhances her approach to litigation through all forms of ADR as she recognises the importance of a practical and commercial approach.

Emma sits as a Recorder in both civil and criminal jurisdictions.  She has been appointed junior counsel to the crown and undertakes complex inquest and high value personal injury and clinical negligence work for the prison estate, probation service and MOD.

Emma is a seasoned seminar speaker, both in person and online, and also produces articles on her areas of expertise.

Areas of expertise

  • Clinical negligence & personal injury
    • Clinical negligence

      Clinical negligence

      Emma undertakes all types of clinical negligence claims including missed/delayed diagnosis of cancer, failure to diagnose DVT, gynaecological injury, pressure sore cases and psychiatric injuries/deaths.

      She has a particular talent for handling multi-expert conferences which requires maturity, control and the tenacity to test the strength of the opinions upon which the claims/defences are based.

      Emma acts for both claimants and health boards/NHS Trusts.

      As a trained mediator, Emma knows the importance of utilising suitable forms of ADR in clinical negligence disputes.

      Emma also provides regular training for clinical negligence practitioners.

      Recent cases

      • Lovegrove v MOD (For D) – multi million pound claim concerning failure to diagnose bowel condition leading to loss of army career (2021)
      • ED (child) v Betsi Cadwalladr ULHB – (For D) 7 million point claim for failure to diagnose craniopharyngioma in a young child (2021)
      • Collard v Betsi Cadwaladr ULHB – (For Defendant) – Multi-million pound claim concerning delayed diagnosis of a brain tumour leading to severe neurological, cognitive and sight impairment (2021).
      • MK v University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire – (for Cl) – Failure to recognise post- operative bleed causing brain injury to an adult with existing learning difficulties (2021).
      • Ducroq v C&V HB (for D) – assessment of causation and quantum in case of alleged functional neurological disorder following a minor clinical incident (2020).
      • Kelly v RUH Bath (For Cl) – failure to diagnose a rare form of cancer (2020)
      • SE v RUH Bath (For Cl) – failure to properly identify and treat portal vein thrombosis (2021)
      • Murakami v Anuerin Bevan ULHB (For D) – Human Rights Act and FAA claim following the self-inflicted death of a woman shortly after being discharged from psychiatric care (2021)
      • XX v various GPs (For Cl) – Cl seeks damages for injury after administration of an injection that was contra-indicated by her HIV medication (2021)


    • Personal injury

      Personal injury

      As the number of litigated Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) cases has grown, so too has Emma’s work in this area.  She is instructed by Claimants and Defendants in such cases and has chaired conferences on what is a complex and challenging area of law and medicine.

      In addition to the more common types of personal injury claims, Emma has dealt with claims for sexual abuse against family and non-family members, accidents in care homes to staff and service users with all manner of vulnerabilities and employer’s liability claims involving multiple potential defendants. On Highway Act claims Emma is the counsel of choice for a number of councils and she still handles all levels of claim in this area for much valued clients.

      Emma is known for her attention to detail and her ability to pick apart tricky liability issues.  She has always managed to balance a practice for both claimants and defendants meaning that she remains alive to the arguments on both sides of the coin which is an advantage both in court and negotiating settlement.

      Recent cases:

      • Thompson v Bissett (Alianz) (for Cl) – High value brain injury claim to young boy who was knocked down by a drug / drunk driver.  Significant rehabilitation needs, active epileptic activity.  Multiple expert led case (2021).
      • Griffiths & Others v G4S (for D) – damages following the death of a man who ligatured in prison.  Case examined the safety of safer custody units and national guidance in respect of the same as well as the management of mental health and substance misuse issues (2021)
      • Naylor v G4S (for D) – High value claim for damages following a near miss ligature to a prisoner who has been left profoundly brain injured.  Liability, causation and quantum in issue (2021)
      • TB v CW (for Cl) – Junior Counsel in TBI claim following injury to a young child whilst a passenger in his mother’s care (2021)
      • Nicholson & Nicholson v Chief Constable of Dorset Police(1) Borough of Poole (2) Dorset CC(3) & Others – (for one of Ds) – claim for damages by the parents of a vulnerable man who was murdered by two young persons (2021)
      • KM v Teignmoouth Community School (for Cl) – claim by a young boy for loss of sight in one eye after unsupervised horseplay broke out in class (2021).
      • Lewis v Kennedy & Markerstudy – (for Claimant) Multiple fatals claim involving death of young husband and unborn baby as well as injuries to mother and another child (2020)
      • Anon – (For Claimant) Injuries to a young boy with disabilities who nearly drowned when in respite care (2021)
      • Scott / Marsden v BAS castings – (For Defendant) Defending multiple damages claims for severe burns and PTSD following an electrical explosion.
      • Rogers v Rogers – (For Claimant) Complex fatals claim involving the provision of care for the dependent child following the death of his mother and complicated by the subsequent death of his father and issues relating to the care provision involving the tortfeasor.
      • Re: Mackenzie – (For Defendant) Junior Counsel in a long running TBI case concerning complex rehabilitation and care needs.
      • Howland v RUH Bath and BOC – (For Claimant) Quantification of damages for a nurse with serious psychiatric injury following an explosion at the RUH which lead to the loss of her nursing career.
      • Crane v BCC – (For Defendant) Human Rights Act claim for damages following the claimant’s death in a fire in his high rise flat.
      • McDonald v Uniqua – (For Claimant) High value JSM. Multiple orthopaedic injuries impacting on the claimant’s career as a prison officer.
      • Cox v HomeGroup – (For Defendant) Human Rights Act claim following the murder of a vulnerable man by another man living in supported housing.
    • Inquests & inquiries

      Inquests & inquiries

      Emma specialises in complex inquests and is recommended in this area by Legal 500 and Chambers UK.  She has a wealth of experience in all types of inquest from shorter yet difficult one day matters to high profile multi IP cases, lasting 8 weeks or more, and many Article 2 cases before a Jury.

      Emma acts for bereaved families as well as individuals, private sector bodies and state agencies, whose actions may be examined. Her clients include private prisons, the police, probation, local authorities, private and public sector care homes, housing providers, health trusts/health boards and employers.  Emma has been appointed as junior counsel to the Crown and through this role she represents the MOJ regularly in relation to deaths in custodial settings or concerning the delivery of detention and probation services.

      She has a real talent for handling cases involving significant amounts of documentation and distilling this down to the relevant issues.

      From the first PIR to the conclusion of the inquest and its implications for any potential civil or criminal proceedings, she has a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of coronial procedure and in particular difficult arguments regarding rule 22, disclosure and PII as well as whether Article 2 is engaged or a jury is mandated.  Emma has dealt with judicial review issues in relation to procedural matters before inquest and regarding the outcome of an inquest.

      Notable recent inquests include:  

      • Re Russell Perry (Oct 2021) – Representing G4S / HMP Parc at the inquest concerning Russell Perry’s death following the possible use of Psychoactive Substances – 1 week inquest.
      • Re PQ (Sept 2021) – Representing the Cwm Taf Health Board in relation to the early neonatal death of baby PQ on the maternity unit at the Prince Charles Hospital.  Inquest 2 weeks in 2023.
      • Re Dorothea Hale (2021) – Represented the GP and Ltd Company who owned one of the care homes investigated under the multi million pound police investigation, Operation Jasmine and the public inquiry (Flynn Review) into care home abuse in South Wales.  4 week inquest.
      • Re Alexanda Cusworth (2021) – represented HMP Dartmoor and the National Probation Service following the murder of one inmate by another in the kitchen area.  2 week inquest.
      • Re: MJ (2021) – Representing the Psychiatric Unit where a teenage girl was located when she took her own life.  2 week inquest
      • Re: KD (2021) – Representing Housing Services following the death of a homeless man during the pandemic.
      • Re: JT (2021) – Representing social services following the death of an elderly man with dementia and Down’s Syndrome following a fall in his supported living accommodation.
      • Re: Anthony Clacher (2021) – Representing HMP Guy’s March following self-inflicted prison death with possible involvement of psychoactive substances.  3 week inquest.
      • Re: Hughes (2021) – Representing G4S concerning the death of an elderly man in prison following an undiagnosed duodenal ulcer. 1 week inquest.
      • CKJ (2021) – representing G4S concerning the death of an inmate at a private prison after possible use of psychoactive substances.
      • BP and others (2020 / 2021) – series of inquests for the local Health Board concerning deaths after elderly patients had fallen in hospital.
      • DM and others (2019 – 2020) – representing the Talygarn Unit in South Wales concerning self inflicted deaths of patients located on the unit or having been discharged from it.
    • Fraud


      Emma is experienced in personal injury fraud matters in respect of liability and quantum issues. She deals with low velocity claims, cases where malingering may be suspected, exaggerated claims, cases where interim payments have needed to be clawed back, and she has successfully obtained vexatious litigant orders in matters where a litigant in person has brought numerous suspicious claims.

      Recent cases:

      • S v P – (For Claimant) FND diagnosed and Defendant asserted malingering.
      • L v W (For Cl) – high value quantum case –  catastrophic lower limb injuries – D alleged FD following surveillance evidence.
      • T v B&M Retail – (for D) – significant reduction in value of claim following interrogation of social media and surveillance showing Cl had exaggerated upper limb injuries.


“A real superstar”Chambers UK
“An amazing advocate”Chambers UK
“A tenacious barrister”Legal 500
“Excellent, thorough and super bright”Chambers UK

Directory recommendations

Emma is recommended by Chambers UK and Legal 500 for clinical negligence, personal injury and inquests/inquiries.  The directories note:

  • “Always well prepared, very good with clients in conference and an impressive advocate” (Legal 500)
  • “Her detailed advice in respect of both liability and quantum is very impressive and she is excellent in conference” (Chambers UK)
  • “Emma is very organised and sharp and always knows her papers very well. She is excellent with witnesses. She is also very approachable and happy to be available at all stages to talk matters through.” (Legal 500)
  • “You can really trust her and she is an amazing advocate” (Chambers UK)
  • “She is outstanding – she does a lot of inquests and she is superb” (Chambers UK)
  • “A tough opponent” (Chambers UK)


  • Recorder – Crime and Civil (appointed 2018)
  • Junior Counsel to the Crown 2018

Professional organisations

  • PIBA (member of Western Circuit Executive Committee)
  • APIL
  • Association of Women Judges
  • Association of South West Mediators


  • LLB King’s College, University of London
  • Bar Vocational Course
  • Inner Temple Scholar

Recent seminars delivered

  • Inquests post Covid (Webinar)(2020) – feedback included ‘spot on’ ‘very comprehensive’ ‘just what we needed’.
  • Covid update for PI & Clin Neg teams
  • Inquest update ‘Getting the most out of submissions’ – working breakfast seminar
  • Chair – Headway Brain Injury Conference 2019
  • Chair of Psychiatry debate session at Cambridge Annual Medico legal Conference 2019
  • Emma often sits as a judge in mock trials eg for clinical solicitors and for authorities in relation to Highways Act claims.
  • Inquest update
  • Mediation in clinical negligence disputes: how can it work for me?
  • Best practice in preparing for medical death inquests

Recent articles

  • Update on remote hearing platforms (2020)
  • A tempering of the Chief Coroner’s Guidance No.37 (2020)
  • Use of video and other remote means in the Coroner’s Court (2020)


More on the limited reach of article 2 in inquests


Thinking about changing expert – still a tough call!


Guideline Hourly Rates – an update


Guideline hourly rates – Emma Zeb provides an update on the Civil Justice Council’s final report


Walkden v Drayton Manor Park – Emma Zeb looks at the recent High Court appeal


Leading clinical negligence/personal injury practitioners, Emma Zeb and Vanessa McKinlay, to join Gatehouse Chambers


Upcoming events

Clinical Negligence & PI #Brew – Changing Experts