Our client BL, represented by a litigation friend, instructed Stewarts after being physically assaulted by another in-patient in a locked psychiatric rehabilitation unit for individuals with complex mental health needs.

Senior associate Gabrielle Ross acts for BL, taking on management of the case from partner and Head of Clinical Negligence Leeds Frank Pinch in August 2023. Gabrielle and paralegal Sania Kamran review BL’s case to date here.


Case details

BL has experienced long-term mental health problems that require psychiatric hospitalisations. In the weeks before the assault, BL’s care plan included identifying their vulnerability and ensuring staff were vigilant about this. Following that, BL reported to staff that the assailant scared them. The day before the assault, the unit again recorded that staff should be vigilant with BL.

In the assault, BL sustained severe head injuries, including a skull fracture and traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage, and required admission into an intensive care unit.

BL’s case was that there were several failings in the care provided in the mental health unit, including that there was no admission care plan, no plan that addressed ways of working with BL to meet their needs and ensure their safety, and the care plan did not include any detailed management plan for when BL’s mental state was in an acute phase. Also, weekly risk assessments were not performed, and there was no assessment of altered risk.

Other alleged care failings included that BL and the assailant were permitted to be alone together after an earlier confrontation between the two, there was no risk assessment or management plan to deal with the risk posed to BL specifically by their assailant, and there was a failure to take any or sufficient heed of incidents between BL and their assailant and keep proper records.

It was further alleged that with competent planning, the assault would probably not have taken place.


Liability settlement

To attempt to resolve liability earlier than usual, the parties agreed to exchange their expert evidence and subsequently held a settlement meeting. Although no admissions of liability have been made, the defendant agreed to pay 90% of the claim at this meeting.

This settlement removes any risk of BL proceeding with a trial on liability.

As BL lacks the mental capacity to manage their litigation, a judge was required to approve the settlement at a hearing. At that hearing, an anonymity order was made to protect BL’s identity, secure the proper administration of justice and protect their interests.

Now that liability has been settled, the parties are to value the claim, with each obtaining expert evidence to try to agree the amount of compensation BL will receive. A case management conference has been scheduled for July.


Ongoing care and accommodation

As part of the claim, BL will require ongoing care and suitable accommodation. BL is currently in a supported living placement and subject to deprivation of liberty safeguards (DOLS). This procedure has been put in place to keep them safe from harm.

The defendant has made an initial interim payment of compensation. This has enabled BL to appoint a case manager who will work with them and facilitate their support and rehabilitation. It has also enabled the process of appointment of a court of protection deputy to manage BL’s financial affairs.

Nathan Tavares KC of Outer Temple Chambers has been acting as BL’s barrister in this matter.


Client testimonial

BL’s litigation friend said: “Both Frank and Gabrielle are very professional and knowledgeable. The case was very complicated with enormous amounts of paperwork, and Stewarts appointed all the necessary experts and barrister needed to obtain a liability settlement.

Gabrielle is now in the process of finding the necessary personnel to establish the level of compensation. She has also assisted in the appointment of a case manager and care coordinator. There is no way I could have done all this alone.”



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Clinical Negligence page.

If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.



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