“He is an absolutely outstanding litigator who elicits a huge amount of trust and confidence from his clients.” “One of the best silks around – he’s very hard-working, bright, tough and determined.” Chambers and Partners 2021
“He is a sublime barrister: very clever, sensible and concise.” Chambers and Partners 2021
Neil Block KC has a reputation as a sensitive but brave advocate, a skilled negotiator and commercially aware practitioner. For many years, Neil has represented a range of clients involved in substantial and complex disputes which are resolved with or without resort to litigation and/or mediation or other form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Historically, his clients have usually been insurers, their insured, defence organisations, the government or other major institutions, and sports regulators, ruling bodies and clubs. He has considerable experience of multi-party litigation and jurisdictional disputes. He is currently representing HM Treasury, HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the UK Covid-19 Public Inquiry.
Neil is one of the few current practitioners who can properly claim to be a specialist in a number of areas of practice ranging from commercial and insurance to sports law, product liability, personal injury and clinical negligence. His commercial and insurance practice is based in professional indemnity, material damage, fraud and product liability, and insurance coverage disputes.
Neil is consistently ranked highly in the legal directories for his work in insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence, clinical negligence, personal injury, product liability and travel. He continues to be ranked as one of Chambers and Partners’ ‘Star Individuals’. Chambers and Partners also named Neil in the Chambers 100, a list of the top 100 barristers practising at the Bar across all practice areas.
Neil is an accredited mediator and has conducted wide-ranging mediations. He is also a member of the Sports Resolution Legal Arbitrator and Mediation panels. He is a member of the LTA Judicial Panel. He is a member of two Premier League committees.
Neil was named Personal Injury Silk of the Year at the Chambers Bar Awards 2021. He was also awarded Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Silk of the Year in The Legal 500 UK Awards 2019.
Areas of expertise
Neil has appeared in many of the landmark sports injury cases of the past 40 years. He is currently working on high-profile claims relating to concussion in rugby union and professional football, claims involving training and alleged abuse of gymnasts, and a claim relating to brain injury in professional boxing.
He is also a member of the Sports Resolution Legal Arbitrator and Mediation panels. He is a member of the LTA Judicial Panel. He is a member of two Premier League committees.
Neil has appeared as an expert witness on English law at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Cases of note:
- Smolden v Nolan [Court of Appeal] - Seminal case on liability of referees for injuries in sport. Involved multiple scrummage collapses in rugby union match.
- Watson v British Boxing Board of Control [Court of Appeal] - Boxer injured in World Championship bout. Regulatory body held liable for failure to provide adequate medical facilities.
- Slack v Glennie [Court of Appeal] - Speedway sidecar crash. Claim against organisers and track owners. Issues about duty and standard of care.
- O’Neill v Fashanu [High Court] - One of numerous claims relating to alleged bad tackles in professional football matches in which Neil has been instructed.
- Johnson v Brands Hatch [High Court] - Serious crash in motor-cycle grand prix. Claim against organisers and track designers.
- Hughes v RFU [High Court] - The multi-party claim alleging that rugby causes neuro-degenerative diseases.
Group Litigation and Multi-party Claims
Neil has extensive and probably unparalleled experience of acting in major group and multi-party actions involving product liability, abuse, personal injury, clinical negligence, insurance and environmental damage.
Cases of note:
- Various v NHS - Neil represented various hospital and trusts defending claims of clinical negligence and product liability in relation to insertion of metal-on-metal hip prostheses.
- Various Claimants v MOD [Ongoing] - Neil is representing the MOD defending a large number of claims by service personnel alleging psychiatric injury resulting from the prescription of Lariam, an anti-malarial medication.
- Various Claimants v NHS [Ongoing] - Neil is representing various NHS hospitals and trusts defending a large number of claims alleging injury resulting from implantation of vaginal mesh.
- Various Claimants v RFU [Ongoing] - Neil is representing the Rugby Football Union (RFU) defending a large number of claims by ex-professional and amateur rugby union players alleging brain injury resulting from concussive injury playing rugby.
- Various Claimants v Ian Paterson – Neil represented the (now notorious) breast surgeon accused of negligent surgical procedures.
- The Kenyan Emergency Group Litigation [High Court] - Neil led a large team of leading and junior counsel successfully defending claims by 40,000 Kenyans alleging personal injury and other losses pre-independence at the time of the Mau Mau uprising. This was the longest ever High Court trial.
- The Manchester Arena bombing claims – Neil represents Showsec defending claims by the victims of this terrorist atrocity.
- ICF v Winterthus [High Court] -A major and complex commercial dispute about after the event insurance, solicitors’ negligence, and consumer credit relating to about 8,500 insurance policies.
- Environmental damage - Claim against multi-national company in respect of alleged water contamination resulting from mining operations in Africa.
- Historic abuse claims - Neil has been instructed in claims arising out of alleged abuse by celebrities e.g. Jimmy Savile, various sports organisations e.g. Barry Bennell (football), schools, and religious institutions.
Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury
Neil has been instructed by defendants in many of the highest value, most complex and important clinical negligence and personal injury cases. His profile is evidence by being awarded the Personal and Injury and Clinical Negligence Silk of the Year awards (both Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500) on numerous occasions. His practice includes both individual claims and multi-party/group actions. These cases not only involve complex liability and quantum issues, but also jurisdictional and insurance issues.
These cases are too numerous to list to give a full range of examples, but include:
Cases of note:
- Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust [High Court] - An example of a birth trauma/cerebral palsy case. Record damages (at the time) were awarded. Complex quantum issues.
- Mugweni v NHS London [Court of Appeal] - Neil represented the defendant and successfully defended an alleged negligent obstetric case relating to the timing of delivery.
- Various v Iain Paterson [High Court] - Neil represented Mr Paterson, the breast surgeon alleged to have performed unnecessary and inappropriate surgery on many hundreds of patients.
- Pike & Doyle v The Indian Hotels Company Limited [High Court] - Neil represented the defendant hotel in claims relating to the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
- Al Najar v Cumberland Hotel [Court of Appeal] - Neil successfully defended the Cumberland Hotel against claims from guests who were grievously injured by an intruder in their hotel rooms.
- Anonymised cases [High Court] - Neil represented defendants and their insurers in hundreds of motor, Employers Liability, Personal Liability, sports, abuse and other cases in which anonymity order have been made in relation to the identity of the parties. These cases have involved a range of liability and quantum issues. All involve injuries of the utmost severity.
Insurance Coverage/Insurance and Reinsurance
Neil has advised on a range of coverage disputes including scope of cover, exclusions, limits of indemnity, aggregation, dual insurance, fraud and moral hazard.
He has recently advised extensively in relation to business interruption cover in relation to claims arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cases of note:
- ICF v Winterthus [High Court] - A major and complex commercial dispute about after the event insurance, solicitors’ negligence, and consumer credit relating to about 8,500 insurance policies.
- Harcourt v Pegasus [High Court] - Contested issue about disclosure of policy terms and conditions and limit of indemnity to claimant.
- Cheval Roc v Zurich Insurance [High Court/Commercial Court] - Cliff collapse in Jersey. Successful defended claim on basis of coastal erosion exclusion.
- Confidential - Advising a regulator and various parties in relation to the business interruption insurance test litigation.
- McGreggor v Prudential Insurance Company [High Court] - Neil successfully defended this claim by the owner of a commercial premises under a fire insurance policy. The defence proved fraud.
- Chappell v AXA [Commercial Court] - Neil successfully defended a fire claim on the basis of non-disclosure and moral hazard. Occupier was operating a sex chat-line from the premises.
- Various construction-related coverage issues
Neil has represented defendants in single and multi-party/group actions relating to product liability. These include pharmaceutical products, medical products, machinery, vehicles, food products, leisure equipment, building products and a range of other products.
Cases of note:
- Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation [High Court] - Neil led the team representing all NHS hospitals and trusts defending the claims by patients alleging that the hip prosthesis implanted were defective.
- Various v NHS [High Court] - Neil is leading the team representing all NHS hospitals and trusts defending the claims by women alleging pain and injury following implantation of vaginal mesh.
- Confidential - Neil is representing a major fast food outlet in relation to a claim arising out of a fatal allergic reaction to a consuming a food product.
- Confidential - Neil is advising a product manufacturer/supplier in relation to claims arising out of the Grenfell Tower fire.
- Various v MOD [High Court] - Neil is leading the team defending the large number of claims by service personnel arising out of the prescription of Lariam, and anti-malarial medication.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Neil is a mediator and also acts as counsel at mediations and joint settlement meetings. He is also on the mediation and arbitration panels of Sports Resolution.
Inquiries and Investigations
Neil is representing HM Treasury, HMRC and DWP at the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. This is the largest core participant government team, and the particular focus is on the financial and economic aspects of the pandemic.
Neil has represented defendants to claims for fire, flood, subsidence and other damage.
Many of these cases also involve issues of insurance coverage and injury and are listed above.
Cases of note:
- Cheval Roc v Zurich [High Court] - A property damage claim arising out of erosion of a cliff in Jersey. Neil successfully represented the defendant insurer.
- Southwark v Woodwell London Limited and Gallagher [High Court/ Technology and Construction Court (TCC)] - Neil represented the defendant contractor in relation to a fire at Walworth Town Hall arising out of hot works on the roof.
- Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes v Kimberley Clark [High Court/TCC] - Neil represented the commercial waste paper recycler in relation to a serious fire at premises owned by Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes. There were issues about causation, fire preventative measures and contract.
- Adams v SSE [High Court/TCC] - Neil successfully defended a claim that a fire at a rural property was caused by defective electrical equipment owned and maintained by the defendant supplier.
In addition to medical and health professions (see Clinical negligence section of CV), Neil has acted for professionals and their insurers and defence organisations in a wide range of claims. In particular, he has recently represented solicitors, surveyors, accountants, and insurance brokers.
Cases of note:
- James v Jeffreys & Powell, Woolcombe v Kleinman Klarfeld, Richards v Hallmark and many other similar cases - Claims in which it is alleged that solicitors have under-settled personal injury and clinical negligence claims.
- Strathmore v Brown and RSA - A broker’s negligence claim following a building fire.
- Confidential valuer’s negligence cases - Neil acted for both lenders and valuers during the heyday of such claims.
- Re: Bondcare [TCC/Adjudication] - Neil acted for project managers on a hotel development near Heathrow airport who were alleged to have been negligent.
- The Supertram Litigation [Court of Appeal] - Neil acted for the project manager in this long-running litigation. The claim was dismissed against his client with costs.
- Allerdale DC v CSL Group [Chancery Division]
“A heavyweight silk for the highest value and most complex of cases. Extremely knowledgeable; excellent negotiator and strategist. He works as a true member of the team with insurers and solicitors.” The Legal 500 2021: Personal Injury
“He is never flustered and always understands all the key issues, presenting them succinctly and with reassurance and respect for his audience.” The Legal 500 2021: Travel Law
“Instils calm in clients through a measured but confident approach.” The Legal 500 2021: Clinical Negligence
“Provides excellent advice and his advocacy skills are impressive.” The Legal 500 2021: Insurance & Reinsurance
“He is a sublime barrister: very clever, sensible and concise. He is commercially minded and someone you ultimately trust to give you very good advice.”
“He is outstanding and a very smooth operator with an extremely authoritative voice. He is extremely calm when dealing with high-value and complex litigation.” Chambers and Partners 2021: Personal Injury
“He is an absolutely outstanding litigator who elicits a huge amount of trust and confidence from his clients.” “One of the best silks around – he’s very hard-working, bright, tough and determined.” Chambers and Partners 2021: Clinical Negligence
“An extremely polished performer.” Chambers and Partners 2021: Product Liability
“Very persuasive in court and has excellent client care skills – he is able to put people at ease.” Chambers and Partners 2021: Travel: International Personal Injury
“An absolutely outstanding tactician with good understanding of this area of law and a mastery of large-scale litigation.” Chambers and Partners 2019: Travel: International Personal Injury
“Neil is incredibly easy to work with, and has excellent client rapport.” “He’s a very accomplished and engaging advocate, who almost has you doubting your own case when you’re against him.” Chambers and Partners 2019: Product Liability
“A terrific advocate.” “He is vastly experienced in this sphere.” Chambers and Partners 2019: Clinical Negligence
“He’s very bright and determined.” “He is very subtle and quietly impressive.” Chambers and Partners 2019: Personal Injury
“An excellent tactician who is exceedingly sound on quantum” Chambers and Partners 2018: Clinical Negligence
“Commercially aware and a robust advocate.” A hugely impressive and supportive leading counsel who is respected by his peers.” “Unflappable, well respected and extremely talented.” Chambers and Partners 2018: Personal Injury
“He is very much a team player, who is excellent with clients and particularly skilled in negotiations.” Chambers and Partners 2018: Product Liability
“He is straightforward, knowledgeable and smart.” “He is very experienced and brilliant with clients.” Chambers and Partners 2018: Travel: International Personal Injury
“He is an arch pragmatist and understands the judicial mind intuitively.” The Legal 500 2017: Clinical Negligence
“He is authoritative and his judgement is invariably very sound.” The Legal 500 2017: Personal Injury, Industrial Disease and Insurance Fraud
“A versatile commercial barrister with a strong coverage expertise.” The Legal 500 2017: Insurance and Reinsurance
“He is very experienced and extremely knowledgeable in his field.” The Legal 500 2017: Product Liability
“Impressive.” The Legal 500: Professional Negligence
“A forensic and analytical mind, and the number-one silk for the highest value cases.” The Legal 500 2017: Travel Law
“He has a wonderful ability to focus on the key issues and see the wood for the trees.” “He is excellent and calm and has experience coming out of his ears.” Chambers and Partners 2017