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Matthias Kelly KC

Year of call: 1979

Silk: 1999

“one of the most hardworking and approachable barristers”
The Legal 500

Matt is a legal science graduate of Trinity College Dublin (1977). He then studied in London and qualified as a Barrister, being called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1979. He was subsequently admitted as Barrister in Northern Ireland (1983) and the Republic of Ireland (1983). He qualified as an Attorney in New York in 1983 and was admitted to the US Federal Bar in 1984. He is a King’s Counsel (KC) in London and a Senior Counsel (SC) in Dublin.

He is a past Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales and a past Chairman of the UK Personal Injuries Bar Association. He is an Examiner of the High Court of England and Wales. He has appeared before, and argued cases, in every Court in both England and Wales and the Republic of Ireland up to and including the Supreme Courts in both countries. He is a Bencher of The Hon. Society of Gray’s Inn, London.

Areas of expertise

Inquiries and Inquests

Matt has appeared in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Brook House Inquiry (2022), The Disclosures Tribunal (Dublin 2019-2020). He chaired the Independent review of the administration and finances of ASLEF (the train driver’s union) (2004). From 2005-2007 he was the full-time legal advisor to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment In Dublin, overseeing Company Investigations. Matt has also conducted an independent Inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination for CWU (the communications workers Union) (2004). Matt was appointed by the Irish Government to conduct an Independent review of discovery by the Department of Education and Science to the Commission to inquire into child abuse in Irish Institutions. 2004. Matt was Chairman of the Hepatitis C Working Party established by the Haemophilia Society in September 2001, to devise costed proposals for a financial assistance fund to recognise the loss and suffering of people with haemophilia resulting from their infection with hepatitis C (HCV which reported in March 2002. 

Cases of note:

  • Inquest into Death of Tamara Mills (south Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust) 2015 - Inquest into the death of a 13 year old girl. Matt represented her family. The coroner concluded that she suffered “a premature death contributed to by a lack of appreciation and/or reaction to the deteriorating nature of her chronic respiratory condition (asthma) and the absence of any planning to monitor, manage and co-ordinate her care, improvement, its sustainability and prevent her death”

Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury

Matt has many years’ experience conducting Personal Injury and clinical negligence cases. He is a past Chair of the Personal Injuries Bar Association. He has represented many Claimants in cases of catastrophic injury (brain, spinal, internal and psychiatric injury). 

Cases of note:

  • Howard v Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (2006) High Court, London, cerebral palsy. 
  • Firth v Geo. Ackroyd Ltd and another (2000) Lloyds LR (medical) 312 - Recoverability of cost of care provided by local Authority under statutory duty).
  • Page v Sheerness Steel, Wells v Wells and Thomas v Brighton Health Authority (1998) 3 WLR 329. House of Lords - The leading case on multipliers for future loss and the discount rate. 
  • Rastin v British Steel Plc; Todd v Evans; Adams v Geest Plc; Byrne v Webber; Donaldson v Canavan; Ayres v British Steel Plc; (1994) 1 WLR 732 - The Automatic striking out of personal injury actions due to delay.
  • H v Ministry of Defence (1991) 2 WLR 1192 - The Right to Jury trial in personal injury cases.
  • Kennedy v Ryan (January 2015), High Court Dublin - Symphysiotomy, limitation, liability for post caesarean operation.
  • Ellie Challis v Barking, Havering & Redbridge Hospitals Trust, 2008-2011. High Court London, medical negligence, meningococcal septicaemia. Quadruple amputee.
  • Adam Jones V BBC and others, (2007). High Court - Employer’s liability, and occupier’s liability. 
  • Zeb v Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (2016) EWHC 134 (QB) - Clinical negligence: TB Meningitis. 
  • Mulgrew v Health Service Executive, High Court Dublin, - Leg amputation, severe damage to hip by Medical Negligence, July 2012


Matt has appeared as counsel in many abuse cases in both court and before Inquiries, representing institutions and individual who have been abused, physically, sexually, emotionally and financially. 

Cases of note:

  • International Transport Federation v Minster for Justice and Equality and others (Equality Commission of Ireland intervening). (2018) High Court Dublin - An application for a mandatory injunction to compel the Irish Government to implement its obligations in domestic, European and International law to actively prevent modern slavery, human trafficking and enforced labour in Ireland. It was conducted in the High Court in Dublin, in November 2018. It was Subsequently settled by mediation, with the Government agreeing to establish a revised scheme and re-organise its methods and systems of enforcement, including a revised system of visas.
  • McNamee v Michael Boyce, Sexual Abuse. Jury Trial, High Court Dublin November 2014 - Matt successfully acted for the Claimant, wo suffered sexual abuse as a child over many years.
  • Numerous applications for compensation under the Irish Government Redress Scheme for victims of abuse received whilst in residential care.
  • Group action, Re Ellindon School Group Litigation, Cambridge. High Court, 2007-2009.
  • Group action: St George’s School, Liverpool, 2004-2006. Child abuse.
  • O’B v Residential Institutions Redress Board, (2009), High Court, Dublin. [2009] IEHC 284

Industrial Disease

Matt has appeared in many cases over the years involving industrial diseases such as vibration white finger, dust induced chest injury, mesothelioma, skin disease, industrial deafness, injuries causing serious injuries and allergies.

Cases of note:

  • Raymond Shanks v Swan Hunter Group PLC (2007) EWHC B4 - Mesothelioma claim damages of £1,000,00.
  • Christine Perry v Post Office, High Court, London, Mr Justice Griffith Williams, 18/10/2001 - The issue was can trauma cause MS?  After hearing extensive and detailed expert medical evidence and argument the Court concluded that it could not on its own cause MS
  • Cleary v Shannon and others (2014) High Court Dublin - Can trauma cause MS? Matt successfully acted for the Claimant.
  • Rob Dawber  v Eastern Infrastructure, York County Court, HHJ Swanson, 1/3/2000 - First case establishing liability for mesothelioma arising out of low level, outdoor, intermittent occupational exposure to "white" asbestos. Later made into a film by ken Loach “The Navigators” (2001) 
  • Wright v JWC (1947) Ltd. High Court, London, - Mesothelioma, pension loss and tax implications.
  • William Searle v BRB (Residuary) Ltd, mesothelioma, High Court London 2012.
  • A Gardner v Alliance Long Acre, High Court. London, Mesothelioma, 2011-2012.
  • Marshall v Laporte Industries Ltd (2010-2011). High Court, London. Mesothelioma

Court of Protection

  • Health Service Executive v KW & Others (2015) IEHC 741 - Adult capacity and ability to refuse treatment.
  • Teehan v Health Service Executive, (2013) IEHC 383. High Court Dublin - Provision of Home Birth Services.
  • Health Service Executive v XY (2013) 1 I.R. 574 - Mental Health. Detention of young person, Articles 6, 8, 13 ECHR. Forcible treatment. 
  • XY (a minor suing by her guardian ad litem, Raymond McEvoy) v The Health Service Executive, The Attorney General & The Irish Human Rights Commission (2013) 1 IR 592 - Constitutionality of section 25(6) of the Mental Health Act 2001, Child Care Act 1991 and Articles 3, 5, 6, 8, 13 and 14 ECHR. 
  • Health Service Executive v MD, High Court, Dublin 2013 - Forced administration of ECT.