F v. M (Unrep) 24.02.2020


Practice Areas

Personal Injury

Cases Citation


A then 27-year-old hotel manager sustained a whiplash injury in a road accident in which his vehicle was hit from the front imposing violent deceleration forces to his spine. He stretched out his left arm across his front seat passenger during the accident, which was not sufficient to activate his car’s airbags or prevent the car being driven c. 1 hour home.

Over the ensuing hours and days he developed acute neck pain with referred symptoms down the arm; x-ray, MRI and nerve conduction studies over the following weeks were all normal. The pain persisted and over the ensuing c. 5 + years he presented at intervals with symptoms of CRPS and lost much of the use of the arm.

It was his case that he sustained a mild stretching traction injury to the brachial plexus sufficient to generate chronic pain in a narrowly confined distribution, insufficient to leave any diagnostic footprint on scanning.

Subsequently he developed moderately severe clinical depression as a consequence of the enforced lifestyle changes. These included having to abandon his career and his aspirations to study for an MBA and thereafter continue his career in the US.

He had undergone all appropriate treatments for his condition and the prognosis for any significant recovery 5+ years later was gloomy.

The Defendant’s expert team was skeptical that there was any underlying organic pathology to explain the presentation, in large part because there was a two day delay in the documented report of any brachial plexus symptoms, which the Defendant averred would have been experienced immediately.

The Defendant   disavowed the diagnosis of CRPS, attributing any physical manifestations associated with that diagnosis to disuse of the limb.

Having invested huge sums in surveillance evidence of the Claimant over 22 days across the course of three years in the UK, US and Greece, the Defendant advanced a differential diagnosis of Somatic Symptom Disorder to explain the Claimant’s presentation, averring that the litigation was a principal maintaining factor and that the prognosis post-litigation was optimistic. The Defendant also suggested an element of exaggeration, though was unsure whether it was conscious or unconscious.

The Defendant requested permission to rely on expert neurological evidence to supplement his shoulder expert.

The Claimant’s neurological expert was able to demonstrate that a delayed onset of brachial plexus symptoms in cases where there was a stretching of the brachial plexus was common, with the mean time of onset being 6 days post-trauma in a prospective controlled 2001 study of 121 patients. The Claimant’s neurological presentation past the 5th anniversary of the trauma fitted with the diagnosis provided by his medico-legal peripheral nerve surgeon.

The case settled through negotiation against that evidential matrix.

Related Barristers

Marcus Grant

Marcus Grant
Year of Call: 1993

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TEMPLE GARDEN CHAMBERS is a market leading set with recognised excellence in a myriad of practice areas with awarded leaders in twelve specialist areas. TGC has the privilege of being well placed in the Temple and The Hague with superb facilities.

Currently consisting of 17 silks and 60 juniors with outstanding leadership and a long established clerking team acknowledged for their exceptional client services and business development, we are keen to expand upon our key areas.

To accommodate the growth in our core practice areas we are inviting applications from established practitioners and/or teams to further enhance our excellent reputation in the following fields:

• Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
• Inquests & Inquiries
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TGC is widely recognised for its friendly ethos and its commitment to Equality & Diversity and Wellbeing. We are especially keen to encourage applications from underrepresented groups at the bar – women, people with disabilities, those from ethnic minority groups and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Applications will be treated with the strictest confidence and should be addressed to the Head of Chambers, Keith Morton QC

In advance of any formal application both Keith Morton QC and Dean Norton (Senior Clerk) would be delighted to have a confidential discussion. To arrange a meeting please contact Dean on 020 7842 8641 or