Photo of Howard Palmer QC

Howard Palmer QC

Call 1977
Silk 1999

hpalmer@2tg.co.uk

+44 (0)20 7822 1200

“excellent for difficult jurisdictional issues”

Chambers UK

"...gets to the crux of the matter easily"

Chambers UK 2017

"...calm and assured"

Chambers UK 2017

"Intelligent, articulate, unflappable and calm."

Legal 500 2017

"Excellent."

Legal 500 2017

Practice Overview

Howard Palmer is joint leader of the Insurance and Reinsurance practice at 2TG and our most experienced Silk in the area of Travel and Jurisdiction.

His practice also encompasses professional negligence, sports law, construction and property damage, and personal injury.

Chambers UK and the Legal 500 have recommended Howard as a Leader in his chosen fields for many years. He is noted to have “…an agile mind and an ability to cope with whatever the judge throws at him”; and is admired “for his cool, calm and collected approach in the courtroom, his ability to reassure clients, and his skilled analysis of complex insurance and liability issues”.

Howard’s experience includes major appeals in the House of Lords (Harding v WealandsHaward v Fawcetts) and in the Supreme Court (Durham v BAI – the Employers’ Liability Trigger Litigation).

Insurance & Reinsurance

Both 2TG and Howard Palmer are recommended as leaders in the field of insurance and reinsurance in Chambers UK and the Legal 500.

Howard’s practice includes:

Major disputes on policy wordings, particularly in the field of asbestos liability risks (see Cape Insurance PLC  v Iron Trades Employers’ Insurance Assn; Bolton MBC v Municipal Mutual; and Durham v BAI (the EL Trigger Litigation).

Repudiations of liability for fraud, non disclosure, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, failure to comply with conditions precedent, etc.

Waiver of the right to avoid.

Enforcement of insurance rights by third parties (see Charlton v Fisher), in the context of

Road Traffic Act liability (see under “Motor”), employers’ compulsory insurance, public liability insurance.

Aggregation, and application of multiple deductibles.

Liability under PHI and critical illness policies.

Insurance recovery actions in cases with complex technical element (eg flooding; electrical malfunctions; fires; see Arscott v The Coal AuthorityBybrook Barns v Kent CC).

Limitations on rights of subrogation against co-assureds – particularly under the standard form of building contracts (see also under International Arbitration & Projects).

Insurance liability and recovery in foreign jurisdictions; direct rights of action against insurers (see under “Travel & Jurisdiction”).

Howard has been instructed to give expert evidence on the English insurance law of non-disclosure and misrepresentation to the US courts.

He concluded the appeal to the Supreme Court in the Employers’ Liability Trigger Litigation.

Travel and Jurisdiction

Howard Palmer has conducted many high-profile cases in the constantly evolving area of law concerning the jurisdiction of the English courts over foreign claims and the law applicable to the resolution of claims with a foreign element.

Under the Private International Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995, he acted for the respondent in the landmark House of Lords appeal in Harding v Wealands [2007] 2 A.C. 1.

He has also been involved in many disputes on whether English or foreign law is applicable to claims arising in foreign jurisdictions – Hamill v Hamill – Spain or England?; Beauregard v Sturrock – England or Florida?; Wortham v Deerhurst Resorts –England or Ontario?

The temporal application of Rome II was successfully argued in Bacon v Nacional Suiza before Tomlinson LJ in 2010 – the only English decision on the question before the CJEU came to its decisive ruling in Homawoo.

On issues of jurisdiction, Howard is expert in the application of the Brussels Regulation (44/2001) as well as CPR Pt 6 (service out of the jurisdiction). He has advised extensively on available jurisdictions for:

  • Contractor/Sub Contractor disputes regarding accidents in the Netherlands (Moore v HCI)
  • Claims against a Canadian ski resort for injuries sustained there
  • Claims for Road Traffic Accidents in various states of Australia (Cooley v Ramsey – QBD)
  • Disputes where proceedings are already extant in another jurisdiction (Knauf UK v Fritz Peters AG – C.A.)

 

Other cases include:

 

  • Clinical negligence in South Africa
  • Clinical product liability in Ireland, Australia and USA
  • Tetraplegia caused on a yacht in Portuguese territorial waters, subject to protection under the Merchant Shipping Acts
  • Athens Convention cases
  • Plane crash in Minnesota, USA
  • Claim for injury at airport, subject to the Montreal Convention
  • Claim in Brunei ancillary to insolvency in that state
  • Various Road Traffic Accidents in Spain, Rumania, France, Greece, Germany and Lithuania.
Professional Negligence

Recommended in the Legal 500 in professional negligence (“First Rate”), Howard’s experience encompasses litigation in the fields of insurance professionals, architects and engineers, construction services, solicitors and accountants.

He appeared for the successful appellant accountants in the House of Lords in Haward v Fawcetts.

Other reported cases of note include:

 

  • John Mowlem v Neil F. Jones (CA), George Fischer v Multi Design and DLE (TCC – HHJ Hicks QC); Gray & Ors. v T P Bennett & Son and Ors (TCC).
Property Damage

Howard Palmer has experience of most of the major national and international forms of Building and Engineering Contracts: JCT (and DOM, NSC and NFBTE/FASS forms of sub contract), ICE (and FCEC forms of sub contract), CRINE General Conditions for Offshore Services, FIDIC forms, I Chem E forms, GC Works forms, NEC form, Hong Kong GC form, Singapore Institute of Architects form.

Howard also deals with arbitration and court control of arbitral proceedings under domestic and international regimes (see Birse Construction Ltd. v St. David Ltd. (CA), Jones v Thyssen (CA), John Mowlem v Carlton Gate (TCC)).

Howard has been instructed in heavy engineering and civil engineering disputes (oil rig construction, shipbuilding, marina construction, subsea engineering etc).

Howard is particularly skilled in litigating disputes with a high technical content (weld failures, fatigue cracking, steel erection and piling failures, bearing seizures, fires, electrical and electronic control failures etc).

He has conducted several high-profile flood cases, including Bybrook Barn Centre Ltd. v Kent C.C. and Arscott v The Coal Authority in the Court of Appeal. “His involvement in the Hazelwood [flooding] case highlighted his ‘absolutely terrific’ skills in dealing with complicated scientific matters” (Chambers UK recommendation as a leading Silk).

Other property damage specialities include tree root law (L E Jones v Portsmouth (CA [2003] 1 W.L.R. 427); Kirk v London Borough of Brent (CA [2005] EWCA Civ 1701); Berent v London Borough of Islington (CA Case No: A1/11/1575, 20.3.12).

Personal Injury

Howard has very wide experience of more than 30 years of all aspects of personal injury and clinical negligence. He combines this experience with his expertise in understanding and analysing complex mechanical processes in the context of catastrophic injury claims. His understanding of the formation of mesothelioma and the liability of employers and others for asbestos-related diseases has enhanced his ability to deal with the complex insurance issues which arise.

Similarly, comparison between foreign and domestic legal systems for the assessment of damages requires a firm grounding in the domestic system, as well as an ability to deal with expert evidence on foreign law (he “converses well with experts” – Legal 500).

 

Examples of particular cases include:

 

  • Craig & Ors v Railtrack plc & Ors (multiple fatalities due to bearing failure on railway carriage)
  • Jolley v London Borough of Sutton (House of Lords – foreseeability of damage in unforeseeable circumstances)
  • DoT v HPC Coatings & Ors. (TCC – multiple fatality caused by collapse of gantry)
  • Hanson v Airedale Hospital (clinical negligence – failure to diagnose possible heart attack)
  • Williams v London Borough of Lewisham (causes and effects of long-term Carbon Monoxide emissions)
Clinical Negligence

Howard has very wide experience of more than 30 years of all aspects of personal injury and clinical negligence. He combines this experience with his expertise in understanding and analysing complex mechanical processes in the context of catastrophic injury claims. His understanding of the formation of mesothelioma and the liability of employers and others for asbestos-related diseases has enhanced his ability to deal with the complex insurance issues which arise.

Similarly, comparison between foreign and domestic legal systems for the assessment of damages requires a firm grounding in the domestic system, as well as an ability to deal with expert evidence on foreign law (he “converses well with experts” – Legal 500).

 

Examples of particular cases include:

 

  • Craig & Ors v Railtrack plc & Ors (multiple fatalities due to bearing failure on railway carriage)
  • Jolley v London Borough of Sutton (House of Lords – foreseeability of damage in unforeseeable circumstances)
  • DoT v HPC Coatings & Ors. (TCC – multiple fatality caused by collapse of gantry)
  • Hanson v Airedale Hospital (clinical negligence – failure to diagnose possible heart attack)
  • Williams v London Borough of Lewisham (causes and effects of long-term Carbon Monoxide emissions)
Motor Insurance

Howard’s expertise in insurance, foreign claims and personal injury is put together in dealing with complex issues relating to motor insurance, against the background of the measures imposed by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the content of the Motor Insurance Directives emanating fromEurope.

He has acted both for and against uninsured motorists and the MIB. He was instructed in the Supreme Court appeal in the case of Jacobs v MIB [2011] 1 WLR 2609, concerning a victim pursuing the MIB in the UK for compensation for an accident with an uninsured driver inSpain.

He acted for insurers (Churchill) in the Court of Appeal in Charlton v Fisher [2002] QB 578, where insurers were found not liable to indemnify a driver who had deliberately rammed another car; and for insurers in Bristol Alliance v Williams (CA 5.3.2012) where the driver had deliberately rammed a shopping mall in an attempt to commit suicide. He also acted in an intra-insurer dispute in General Accident v Toms and Provincial Insurance (QBD, Scott Baker J) as to which of two insurers were liable to indemnify a negligent driver.

Howard has also conducted cases on the liability of foreign insurance companies to provide indemnity to their insureds, or to provide compensation direct to victims, in the context of proceedings brought within the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

Product Liability

Regularly advises in high profile Product Liability cases.

Sport

Howard Palmer uses his considerable experience in sensitive commercial disputes and insurance law in all aspects of his sports practice. His expertise is well suited to litigation which explores the interface between liability for sports injuries and recovery under insurance policies, regularly advising and appearing in court in cases involving complex contractual interpretation.

Although his practice extends to a wide range of sports, he has a particular interest in motorsports, watersports, skiing, riding and shooting.

Howard sits as a Recorder in criminal cases. As well as civil and (some) criminal court work he has experience of most forms of arbitration and ADR.

Howard is a keen cricketer and member of the MCC.

Wagenaar v Weekend Travel Ltd. – skiing accident rendering Claimant tetraplegic – successful defence of ski instructor in High Court Action – issues of French law and skiing standards in French Alps (Winchester High Court).

R v A (confidential) – Acting for claimant rendered tetraplegic in yachting accident off the coast of Portugal; allegations concerned complex issues of sailing technique (Admiralty Court – settled before hearing).

Cripps v Goodman – Riding accident on a road; management techniques of rider when trying out horse for first time; acted for successful Defendant (CA)