Sir Robert Nelson

Sir Robert Nelson

Call: 1965 | Silk: 1985

Practice Overview

High Court Judge: 1996-2008, Recorder: 1986-1996

Sir Robert Nelson has wide experience in adjudicating and resolving substantial disputes.   He sat as a High Court Judge in the Queen's Bench Division for twelve and a half years, and was a barrister for thirty years, eleven of those as leading Counsel.   He is available to sit as an Arbitrator and accredited Mediator.

Arbitration and Mediation

A three and a half month independent review on behalf of the defence research and technology contractor QinetiQ into its role and responsibility for the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft in Afghanistan in 2006 and the lessons to be learned from the criticisms made of the Company in the Haddon-Cave Report.

Mediation in personal injury cases valued in excess of £1m.

Practice as Queen's Counsel

  • Professional Negligence
  • Commercial and Business Law
  • Construction
  • Industrial Disease - Personal Injury
  • Product Liability
  • Pharmaceutical Product Liability
  • Insurance - Re-insurance
  • Public Inquiries
  • The Benzodiazepine litigation instructed on behalf of Upjohn, the US manufacturers of the drug ‘Halcion’ in multi party group litigation.
  • Excess Insurance and a Lloyds syndicate v. Gibbs Hartly Cooper (a Lloyds broker) re losses incurred in mortgage impairment policies in USA Commercial Court.   Instructed by Excess Insurance.
  • Courtaulds: Allegation that the use of CS2 in the making of viscose caused heart disease.  This case had international ramifications of enormous potential to Courtaulds.  Instructed by Courtaulds.
  • Maguire Inquiry: Third stage of Sir John May’s inquiry into the Guildford 4, and the Maguire 7 which was set up to investigate whether Home Office officials should have referred the Maguire case to the Court of Appeal earlier than it did.  Instructed by Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the four Home Office officials and the four Home Office scientists.
  • Stovin & Wise: a case concerning the duties of a local authority in negligence in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.
  • The Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: instructed jointly by the Medical Protection Society on behalf of Dr Marietta Higgs and by the Medical Defence Union on behalf of Dr Geoffrey Wyatt.
  • Re F: Case concerning the sterilisation of a mentally handicapped woman in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords.
  • Radiation Overdose: Wonford Devon.  Instructed on behalf of 98 Claimants.
  • Expert witness as to English law in a Texas oil dispute.
  • Wedgwood: About 500 tenosynovitis cases.  Instructed by the Guardian Royal Exchange Insurance Company.
  • Permutit Boby: A multi-plaintiff action – heart disease alleged to have been caused by BisCME used in manufacturing process.   Instructed by Royal Insurance and Thames Water Company.
  • Merrivale Moore: Instructed by Royal Insurance Co. in substantial building collapse case – Ransomes Dock Battersea.
  • Montego v. Avon Tyres: Instructed by Norwich Union in multi Claimant action arising out of coach crash in France.
  • Challenging and varied work
  • Leading teams of lawyers.  Often leading two juniors and having up to five solicitors in particular cases.
  • Working with technical experts, particularly medical experts on causation and accountants on damages.  About two thirds of cases as a QC involved working with accountants.
  • substantial – some multi million pound/dollar – actions
  • The art of negotiation

As former Head of Chambers at Crown Office Chambers (1989-1996), chaired the Executive Committee, and general Chambers meetings.  There were 38 members of chambers, 6 full time staff, and a substantial turn over.

Decided a wide variety of issues including:

  • Contract, negligence and commercial cases
  • The DVT litigation where his decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords, and followed in many countries around the world.
  • The Queen’s Moat House hotel case concerning the suspension of its shares on the stock market and the dismissal of its directors.  This case involved examining the company’s transactions in the UK and abroad over a 5-year period and extensive accountancy evidence.
  • Many murder trials, including one of the salt poisoning cases.
  • Court of Appeal Criminal Division dealing with appeals against conviction and sentence.
  • Appeals in Employment Appeal Tribunal.

Work as a High Court Judge involved detailed analysis of facts and legal issues, courteous, fair and firm handling of litigants, lawyers and witnesses, and giving judgments either extempore or reserved.

Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year