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Vanessa McKinlay

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Vanessa McKinley
“Excellent both in court and on paper” Chambers UK

Practice overview

Vanessa is a very experienced clinical negligence barrister whose expertise covers areas such as surgical negligence, delayed cancer of diagnosis, obstetric and midwifery care, delayed treatment of sepsis, pharmaceutical negligence, cardiac treatment and the treatment of renal conditions.

She also specialises in representing parties at inquests.

Having worked as a Senior Physiotherapist in the NHS before being called to the Bar in 2000, Vanessa brings a strong medical knowledge to her practice enabling her to handle authoritatively the most complex medical issues.  She is known for her ability to distil the essential elements of a particular case and give practical advice in understandable terms.  A robust and clever negotiator, clients value her kind and thoughtful approach to difficult and sensitive issues.

Vanessa is also a trained mediator (see separate profile).

Areas of expertise

  • Clinical negligence & personal injury
    • Clinical negligence

      Clinical negligence

      Vanessa is experienced in high-value and complex litigation involving all areas of medical care. Her expertise cover areas such as surgical negligence, delayed cancer of diagnosis, obstetric and midwifery care, delayed treatment of sepsis, pharmaceutical negligence, cardiac treatment and the treatment of renal conditions.

      She acts for both claimants and defendants, dealing with all aspects of clinical negligence arising in NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and other primary care centres, private clinics and ambulance centres.

      Her extensive medical expertise gives her a decided advantage in dealing with the complicated medical issues which arise in clinical negligence claims.

      Recent work includes: 

      • Acting for local health board in relation to a £7m claim following surgical treatment for a bowel disorder.
      • Thacker v Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust: trial arising from nerve damage sustained following a femoral nerve block given during knee replacement surgery.
      • Acting for eight claimants who had hip replacements performed by the same surgeon where there was a failure to perform an adequate reattachment of the adductor tendon.
      • Claim relating to the alleged negligent delay in the diagnosis of breast cancer leading to the need for a mastectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy and a reduction in life expectancy.
      • Complex case relating to claims brought against community midwife team and hospital relating to delayed diagnosis of post-partum infection leading to necrotising fasciitis, severe sepsis, chronic illness myopathy and quadriplegia.
      • Payne v South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust – 6-day trial involving alleged delay in abdominal surgery
      • Lunn v Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust – 4-day trial involving stillbirth
      • IIayesa v North Bristol NHS Trust – 3-day trial involving alleged negligent surgical treatment
      • Titchener v Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust – 4-day trial involving alleged obstetric negligence
      • Young v Fraser – 400,000 settlement following drug-induced renal failure
      • Worth-Catherall v Warwick House Medical Centre – 250,000 settlement following drug-induced peripheral neuropathy
    • Inquests & inquiries

      Inquests & inquiries

      Vanessa regularly provides representation at inquests including Article 2 and jury inquests.

      She is experienced in cases involving deaths in hospital (including psychiatric units) and deaths in which questions arise regarding GP and ambulance care.

      Her medical background makes her ideal for complex medical cases.

      Vanessa is happy to undertake inquests on a conditional fee basis.


“Excellent both in court and on paper”Chambers UK
“A clear strategic thinker who is good with clients”Legal 500
“Vanessa is a robust and clever negotiator who gets outstanding results”Legal 500

Directory recommendations

Vanessa is recommended by both Chambers UK and Legal 500 for clinical negligence.  Some of the recent comments include:

  • “She is extremely knowledgeable and has an excellent grasp of the medical issues in clinical negligence claims. She is also an excellent strategist. Excellent both in court and on paper.” (Chambers & Prs)
  • “Her medical background allows her to really drill down into the issues of a case, particularly in relation to causation disputes.” (Legal 500)
  • “She is responsive, good with clients, grasps the key issues and is good with detail, without getting lost in it.” (Chambers & Prs)
  • “Her advocacy is impressive and her professionalism at joint settlement meetings has resulted in settlements being achieved in very difficult situations.” (Chambers & Prs)
  • “She has a medical background so she understands things more easily, which is helpful. She can identify the issues and get to them straight away; she is also good with clients. Always in control of the situation and very reassuring.” (Chambers & Prs)
  • “She fights her client’s corner.” (Legal 500)


  • Mediator with Trust Mediation
  • Trustee, Resuscitation Council UK

Professional associations

  • Personal Injury Bar Association
  • AvMA
  • Bristol Medico-Legal Society
  • Association of Personal Injury Lawyers


  • LLB and Bar Vocational Course at the University of the West of England
  • LL.M Medical Law, Cardiff University


Vanessa McKinlay appointed Assistant Coroner


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


Upcoming events

Vanessa McKinlay and Nye Moloney speaks at Inspire MediLaw Annual Expert Witness conference


Clinical Negligence & PI #Brew – TUI