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Hendersons - Barristers' Chambers

Toby Riley-Smith QC

"An excellent and really charming advocate. He is intellectually sharp and fantastic on his feet. He is easy to work with and gains respect from clients, opponents and judges alike.”

Chambers UK 2018


Call
1995
Silk
2016

Toby Riley-Smith QC is recommended by Chambers UK and/or the Legal 500 as a leading silk in the fields of (1) Product Liability, (2) Health & Safety, (3)  Environmental Law, (4) Financial Services, (5) Banking and (6) Consumer Law. He has been described by fellow professionals as “a dream barrister” who is “sparkling in court” (Legal 500); and as “a charming advocate with great judgment”, “hard-working, commercial and pragmatic”, “exactly the kind of barrister that every solicitor wants” (Chambers UK).

Much of his work involves litigation in relation to products or serious incidents – whether in the civil, criminal or coronial courts.  Before taking Silk, Toby was described as “probably the best junior around for commercial clients in the crossover of health and safety, product liability and consumer law” (Chambers UK). He acts in cross-border disputes and regularly deals with jurisdictional issues.

He has particular experience of complex multi-party litigation, having acted in many of the most significant group actions and mass tort claims of the last two decades including: The Tobacco Litigation, The MMR Vaccine Litigation, The Bodo Oil Spill Litigation, The PIP Breast Implant Litigation and The Corin Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation.

Toby is “an expert in post-disaster litigation” (Chambers UK) – whether causing personal injury, property damage or environmental harm.  He has been involved in the various proceedings (whether litigation or Public Inquiry) in the aftermath of the Ladbroke Grove Train Crash, the Buncefield Refinery Explosion, the Bacton Gas Terminal Explosion, the Bodo Oil Spill and the Grenfell Tower Fire.

He has “established guru status in consumer credit matters” (Chambers UK).  He has particular experience of consumer-driven group litigation in relation to financial products.

Until he was appointed QC in 2016, he was one of the Attorney-General’s “A-Panel” of Junior Counsel.

 

Expertise


Product Liability

Toby is a leading product liability silk.  He is recommended by Legal 500 2017 (“He has exceptional intellect and an inexhaustible capacity for hard work.”) and Chambers UK 2018 (“Greatly respected for his judgement, advocacy, preparation and soft skills.”).  According to Who’s Who Legal (Product Liability Defence) 2017: “He shines thanks to his unsurpassed knowledge in the area”.

He was previously described as a “a go-to counsel for product claims” (Legal 500 2016).   Before taking silk, he was lauded as a “product liability star(Legal 500) and “one of the strongest juniors at the Bar” in the field (Chambers UK).

He has huge experience of the various legal processes in which product manufacturers/suppliers become involved – whether personal injury/fatal accident claims, commercial claims, trading standards prosecutions and/or coroners’ inquests.  He acts in cross-border disputes and regularly deals with the jurisdictional issues that arise in product claims.

He has experience of a wide range of products including consumer goods, cosmetics, food, industrial machinery, medical devices, medicines and vehicles. Recent clients have included Bayer, Boston Scientific, Chanel, Ikea, L’Oreal, Medtronic, Merck, Siemens, Sony, Tata, Veolia and Whirlpool.

He has particular experience of complex multi-party litigation, having acted in some of the most significant group actions and mass tort claims in recent times – including for Imperial Tobacco in The Tobacco Litigation, for Merck in The MMR Vaccine Litigation, for Shell in The Bodo Oil Spill Litigation, for Aspen Healthcare in The PIP Breast Implant Litigation, for Corin in The Corin Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation and for Whirlpool in the aftermath of fires in residential tower blocks (including Grenfell Tower).

Group Actions

  • The Tobacco Litigation: From 1996 to 1999 he was one of the team of counsel instructed by Imperial Tobacco Limited in its successful defence of claims brought by a group of smokers suffering from lung cancer.
  • The MMR/MR Vaccine Litigation: From 1999 to 2007 he was junior counsel to Merck & Co Inc, a manufacturer of the MMR vaccine. The claims of 1,000 autistic children were defeated in the largest recent product liability group action.
  • The ABG Hip Prosthesis Litigation: he acted for Pfizer in a group of claims brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 following the early revision of hip prostheses.
  • The PIP Hydrogel Breast Implants Litigation: instructed by one of the clinics which implanted breast implants in the hydrogel group litigation.
  • The Bomu-Bonny (Bodo) Oil Pipeline Litigation: acted for Shell in thousands of claims brought by fisher folk following leaks from oil pipeline in the Niger Delta.
  • The Corin Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation: he is acting for a manufacturer (Corin Limited) of hip implants facing hundreds of claims by patients.

He is currently instructed by manufacturers facing a large group of claims in relation to implantable cardiac defibrillators, pelvic organ prolapse products, permanent contraceptive devices, Geared Traded Endowment Policies (“GTEPs”), tumble dryers, dishwashers and fridge-freezers.

Unitary claims

Consumer goods

He regularly acts in cases following injury caused by consumer goods. Recent instructions have involved the following products:

  • Cosmetics:  personal injury claim against the manufacturer of aftershave.
  • Dishwashers: fatal accident claims following domestic fires.
  • Fireworks: claims following injury caused by defective fireworks.
  • Fridges: claims, inquests and public inquiry following fatal fires.
  • Furniture: claim against an international furniture manufacturer in relation to a flat-pack bed.
  • Hair dye: various claims and inquests following adverse reactions to home hair colourants.
  • Heaters: claim for catastrophic personal injuries to children following a domestic house fire.
  • Laptops: personal injury and property damage claims following domestic fires.
  • Miniature circuit breakers: inquest and litigation following a house fire caused by recalled MCBs.
  • Pressure cooker: personal injury caused by an exploding device.
  • Tumble-dryers: fatal accident claims following domestic fires.
  • Washing machines: fatal accident claims following domestic fires.

Commercial claims

He has been instructed in many commercial “chain-of-contract” and insurance claims involving defective products, such as:

  • Animal feed: acted for the country’s largest animal foodstuff manufacturer in a commercial claim related to contaminated chicken feed.
  • Bio-fuel: claim against supplier of allegedly contaminated bio-fuel or recycled “soup” to industry.
  • Car park decking systems: a commercial recovery action following the failure of a car park surface.
  • Chinaware: acted for a company that bought hundreds of thousands of defective mugs for a promotional campaign in its recovery action against the manufacturer.
  • Electrical products: claims by insurers and others arising out of electrical fires at commercial premises that are blamed on defective products (light fittings, electrical capacitors and commercial fryers).
  • Electrical generators: recovery action by insurers following a fire at commercial premises in the City of London caused by defective generator.
  • Industrial machinery: various sale of goods cases arising from the supply of equipment such as industrial plant, grinding machines, potato-harvesters and baling machines.
  • Petrol Contamination: acted for one of the producers of the contaminated petrol supplied to thousands of supermarket customers in the spring of 2007. The multi-party commercial dispute that has followed – involving many of the major supermarkets – was both high-value and high-profile.
  • Pipework: acted in claim that involved the flooding of a factory as the result of defective pipes.
  • Polymers: acted for Korean manufacturer of industrial polymer implicated in a factory explosion.
  • Polyethylene sheets: acted for the manufacturer of polyethylene sheets used to wrap animal foodstuffs.
  • Toilet blocks: commercial claim by a manufacturer which had bought defective machinery.
  • Yachts: claim in relation to a defective luxury yacht.

Food and drink

He has been instructed in cases involving contaminated food, including:

  • Cheese: acting in claims arising out of the sale of metal-contaminated cheese by supermarkets.
  • Dye (Sudan Red): acted (with Prashant Popat QC) for a major supplier and manufacturer in the food sector on the possible liabilities arising from the supply of products contaminated with illegal food dye.
  • Eggs (Salmonella): defended a group of claims following a mass-poisoning at a lunch hosted by one of London’s grandest hotels
  • Horse Meat: advised in claims against Spanish producers arising out of the sale of pork products allegedly contaminated with horse-meat.
  • Ready meals: acted for the manufacturer of ready meals contaminated by metal.
  • Rice: acted for the Japanese manufacturer of retortable packaging that was said to have caused widespread contamination of packets of microwaveable rice.

He has advised on the application of the food labelling regulations and directives, in particular in relation to genetically modified food.

Medical devices / pharmaceutical products

He is regularly involved in personal injury claims following the use of medical devices or pharmaceutical products, often brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.  Recent cases have involved the following products:

  • Contact lenses: acted for the manufacturers of contact lenses.
  • Cosmetic implants: acted for the manufacturer of cosmetic lip fillers / implants in a claim brought by a Swedish model against both his client and the cosmetic surgeons.
  • Enteral feedings devices: represented the manufacturer of feeding devices at an inquest.
  • Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators (ICDs): acted for the manufacturers of the devices, and those who manufacture leads, in inquests and subsequent litigation arising out of the supply of such devices and leads.
  • Insulin (pumps): represented various manufacturers of automated insulin pumps at inquests.
  • Insulin (pre-filled syringes): appeared at an Inquest, and in subsequent criminal and civil proceedings, for the manufacturer of pre-filled insulin syringes implicated in the death of a diabetic.
  • Haemostatic blood clotting agent: acted for the manufacturer at an Inquest following a patient’s death during an operation.
  • Hip prostheses: acted in various unitary claims arising out of defective prostheses, whether metal-on-polyethylene or metal-on-metal.
  • Hypertension medication: acted for the manufacturer in a claim brought in relation to a generic medicine causing psoriasis.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Medication (Dopamine agonist): defended various claims against various manufacturers that alleged that a dopamine-agonist caused a gambling addiction.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis medication: represented a global pharmaceutical company at an inquest whose clinical trial ended in the death of the patient.
  • Surgical screws: acted for the manufacturer in personal injury litigation.
  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI): he acted for the manufacturer of a medical device in various litigation.
  • Vaccines: he acted for the manufacturer of vaccines in various unitary and group claims.

Military hardware

  • Mortar: Led by Jonathan Harvey, he obtained record damages against MOD for the dependants of an SAS sergeant killed in a “friendly-fire” incident in the Gulf.
  • Helicopter: he acted for the Ministry of Defence in a claim by a pilot following a helicopter crash.

Playground equipment

  • Traditional swings: he acted for a defendant who successfully resisted a personal injury claim involving allegedly defective swings at the Duxford Air Field.
  • Cantilever swings: he successfully defended at trial the manufacturer of a cantilever swing in Liverpool that was alleged to have been defective and caused injury.
  • Leisure slides: he acted for the owner of the UK’s longest play slide in claims against the seller/manufacturer following a series of injuries to customers.

Vehicles

  • Cars: acted for manufacturers in claims involving defective cars and vans.
  • Trains: acted (with the late Anthony Scrivener QC, and David Wilby QC) for a passenger injured in the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash.  He sued the train company for damages contending that the accident turned him into a killer.  The case went to the House of Lords on a preliminary point of principle (the nature of the defence of ex turpi causa).
  • Highways Act Claims:  he is acting in various claims by the Highways Agency against owners of vehicles that have caused damage to the highway.

Cross-border / Jurisdictional Challenges

He provides advice and acts in cross-border disputes and challenges to the jurisdiction of the English Courts.  Recent cases have included claims involving alleged assaults / torture in Peru, nuisance in Nigeria and products manufactured / sold in Korea, China and India.

Product recall

He provides general, but confidential, product liability and product safety advice to manufacturers and suppliers, including advice on when and how to manage a product recall.

Product safety and labelling

He advises on the product safety and labelling regulations, and acts for businesses in regulatory prosecutions.

Trading Standards enforcement action

He acts for businesses and individuals prosecuted for offences under various trading legislation including the Trade Descriptions Act and the Consumer Protection Act.  Recent instructions have included:

  • Chinese electrical goods: he recently advised a Chinese importer on threatened enforcement action under the General Product Safety Regulations in relation to electrical products.
  • Tumble dryers: he acted for Whirlpool in enforcement action taken by trading standards authority in the aftermath of a fire in a tower block in Shepherds Bush that was said to have been caused by a defective tumble dryer; and in the judicial review of the enforcement authority’s conduct by the Consumers’ Association.

Plaudits in previous directories

“ Fantastic to work with and such a grafter: he is really hard-working, he thinks nothing of coming into our offices, rolling up his sleeves, getting stuck in and helping.” “Very impressive chap and very effective, he’s always exceedingly pleasant to deal with as well.” (Chambers UK 2017)

‘A go-to counsel for product claims.’ (Legal 500 2016)

“He is one of the go-to juniors due to his abilities with clients, his courtroom skill and his work ethic. … He shows a dedication which is just second to none, including working through the night time and time again….He has a fantastic manner with clients and he is very flexible in his advocacy.” (Chambers UK 2016)

‘Excellent with clients, and a specialist in the cosmetic industry.’ (Legal 500 2015)

“One of the strongest juniors at the Bar, he is often Silks’ first choice for large group actions, but is also well capable of handling matters in a solo capacity” (Chambers UK 2015)

“an excellent product liability specialist, who has in-depth knowledge and displays impeccable attention to detail” (Chambers UK 2015)

“An incredibly busy and highly reputable barrister who is amongst the best juniors in the field. He offers expertise in many different areas of product liability, and has been involved in significant medical and pharmaceutical disputes as well as cases involving defective electrical or engineering products” (Chambers UK 2014)

“Product liability star” Legal 500 (2013)

“Technically excellent, very genial and an impressive and effective advocate” (Chambers UK 2012)

“Exceptionally able in his field” (Legal 500 2011)

“Good all-round knowledge, hard work and pleasant manner, which has served him very well with clients and judges” (Chambers UK 2011) “Technically excellent and has a highly commercial approach” (Legal 500 2010)

“The popular Toby Riley-Smith. Solicitors are quick to praise him: ‘He prepares extremely well, assiduously reads papers and is exactly the kind of barrister a solicitor wants.’ ” (Chambers UK 2010)

“Singled out for the amount of work he handles in this area, and for his impressive knowledge of product liability law, Riley-Smith is ‘a prominent name in the junior ranks’ who is also acting for the manufacturer in hip prosthesis litigation.” (Chambers UK 2009)

“Toby Riley-Smith is a strong junior who was praised for his ‘pleasing manner in court…’ ” (Chambers UK 2008)

“Toby Riley-Smith was described as a great person to work with; he looks after Instructing Solicitors very well and has a superb court manner” (Chambers UK 2007)

“Industrious intellectual heavyweight” (Chambers UK 2006)

Representative cases

grid list
  • Shaw (Personal Representative of the Estate of William Ewan, Deceased) v Medtronic Corevalve LLC & 4 others [2017] EWHC 1646 (Lavender J)

    Basis of assessment – costs of successful defendant.

  • Shaw (Personal Representative of the Estate of William Ewan, Deceased) v Medtronic Corevalve LLC & 4 others [2017] EWHC 1397 (Lavender J)

    Dismissal of application to amend particulars of claim – summary judgment – application to disapply QOCS.

  • Shaw (Personal Representative of the Estate of William Ewan, Deceased) v Medtronic Corevalve LLC & 4 others [2017] EWHC (Lavender J)

    Permitted challenge to jurisdiction and struck out claims under CPR 3.4.

  • The Corin Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation (Hickinbottom J)

    Various case management conferences in group litigation (2015-2017).

  • The PIP Hydrogel Breast Implants Litigation (Thirlwall J)

    Two case management conferences in group litigation (2014).

  • Bodo Community & Others v Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd [2014] EWHC 217 (Akenhead J, TCC)

    Costs – Order for costs – Preliminary issue – Proceedings arising from oil spillages in Nigeria – Defendant company admitting liability for spillages – Court determining preliminary issues – Appropriate order for costs.

Health & Safety

Toby is a leading health & safety Silk.  He is recommended for his work in this field by both Legal 500 2017 (‘Calm, unflappable and liked by clients) and Chambers UK 2018 (“Very responsive and empathetic. He listens closely to what the client has to say”).

Before taking Silk, he was described as “probably the best junior around for commercial clients in the crossover of health and safety, product liability and consumer law” (Chambers UK 2016).

Toby usually represents businesses/organisations in the various health and safety proceedings that can follow accidents at work – whether civil claims for compensation by employees; enforcement action by the HSE or local authorities; or the Coroners’ Inquests or other formal inquiries that follow fatalities.  He has experience of the COMAH regime and the Crown Censure Procedure.

He has acted for businesses in different sectors (including construction, healthcare, industrial, leisure, life sciences, oil/gas, railways, retail, schools, shipping and waterways).

Recent clients have included: Associated British Ports, Bakkavor Foods, Berkeley Homes, Network Rail, Sanctuary Care, Shell, Taylor Wimpey and Tesco.

As a former “A-Panellist”, he acted in this field for various Government Departments (including the Ministry of Justice, HM Prison Service and the Ministry of Defence).

Construction

  • An inquest following a fall from a mobile elevated working platform near Bristol (acting for the manufacturer).
  • An inquest into the death of a motorist at a new roundabout (acting for a construction company).
  • A prosecution following the collapse of the roof structure of a school in Telford and the injury of a number of workers (acting for the construction company in both the Magistrates and the Crown Courts).
  • A prosecution of a parochial church council following a serious injury in the course of the construction project in a parish church (acting for the Parish).
  • A prosecution following a non-fatal accident near a construction site on a landmark residential development in the centre of London (acting for the developer in prosecution by HSE)
  • A prosecution following injury to a passer-by hit b cladding (acting for the sub-contractor company in the Magistrates)
  • A double fatality in the course of the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (acting for the German manufacturer of the locomotive in the Inquest and subsequent high court commercial litigation).
  • A carbon-monoxide poisoning incident following the installation of a conservatory (acting for the company before the Magistrates).
  • A fatal accident in the course of construction work at a riding stables (acting for the defendant company before the Canterbury Crown Court)

Employee liability

  • A Crown Censure following the death of a driver at a weapons depot (acting for the Ministry of Defence).
  • A fatal accident at the Port of Ipswich (acting for the port owner).
  • A fatal accident claim by widower of a court manager who died from septicaemia following a flea bite (acting for Ministry of Justice).
  • A fatal accident to a security guard at the Port of Immingham (acting for the port owner).
  • A fatal accident at a food processing plant in Wigan (acting for the employer).
  • A fatal accident in the hold of a container ship at Grimsby Docks (acting for the employer).
  • A fatal accident, and non-fatal injury, to journalists in the course of reporting on the conflict in Iraq (acting for the employer).
  • A fatal accident at work (acting for an energy company before the Coroner).
  • A fatal friendly-fire incident in the Middle East (acting for the deceased’s soldier’s family at the Inquest, and in the subsequent civil proceedings against MoD).
  • An inquest into an electrocution at work (acting for the site manager).
  • An inquest into a fatal accident following a tyre explosion at Ipswich Docks (acting for the port owner)
  • A fatal fall at Ipswich Docks (acting for the port owner at the Ipswich Crown Court)
  • An inquest following a death whilst unloading the hold of a ship (acting for the port owner.)
  • An inquest following a fatal accident at a warehouse in Corby (acting for the employer).
  • A fatal fire at a potato factory in Cambridgeshire (acting for the owner before the Coroner).

Healthcare

  • An inquest following a rare but known reaction to clozapine (acting for the monitoring service).
  • An inquest into the death of a patient whilst in respite care near Worcester (acting for the care provider).
  • An inquest into the death of a dementia patient at a residential care home in Brighton (acting for the home).
  • An inquest into the suicide of a young out-patient with mental disabilities in North London (acting for his carers).
  • An inquest following a death in a nursing home in Lincoln (acting for the manufacturer of a relevant medical device).
  • An inquest into the death of an elderly tenant in a sheltered housing scheme in Tamworth (acting for the landlord).
  • A fatal fire at a residential care home in Hertfordshire (acting for the care home before the Coroner).
  • A fatal fall at the Thames Tunnel (acting for the principal contractor at the Maidstone Crown Court).
  • A fatal fall from scaffolding in Sheffield (acting for the one-man company before the Sheffield Crown Court)
  • An accident at a residential care home that led to the prosecution of an Order of Nuns (acting for the religious before the Magistrates).

Industrial

  • A challenge to the HSE’s claim for fees-for-intervention following a COMAH incident in North Yorkshire (acting for the company).
  • A commercial claim against a supplier following personal injury claims paid by an employer following an explosion at a plastics factory in Northumberland (acting for the supplier).
  • A prosecution following the explosion of the compressed air cylinder (acting for the manufacturer).

Leisure

  • A series of personal injury claims by users of the UK’s longest play slide (acting for the slide owner).
  • A personal injury claim involving allegedly defective swings at the Duxford Air Field.
  • A personal injury claim by a child who had used a cantilever swing in a public park in Liverpool.

Oil and gas

  • A prosecution following an explosion at a gas terminal and COMAH site in Norfolk (acting for a petro-chemical company in the Norwich Crown Court).
  • A prosecution following a death on an oil platform in the North Sea (acting for a petro-chemical company in the Norwich Crown Court).

Prisons

  • A series of civil claims against a prison by those prison officers who allege that they contracted TB from a prisoner (acting for HM Prison Service).
  • An inquest into the death of a prisoner whilst in custody (acting for HM Prison Service).

Property

  • A claim against a local authority arising out of the infection of a heating system with Legionella.

Railways

  • A double fatality on the railway at Hednesford (acting for a major rail infrastructure company in the Magistrates Court, Stafford Crown Court and Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal).

Retail premises

  • An inquest following the death of a customer in a supermarket in Buckinghamshire.

School

  • An inquest into a suicide at an independent school (acting for the Governors).

Waterways

  • A death of a member of the public at the docks in Port Neath (acting for Associated British Ports).
  • A fatal accident during a diving operation at a freshwater lock on the River Severn (acting for British Waterways before the Coroner, in the Bristol Crown Court and in the civil claim).
  • An inquest into a drowning at a leisure park in the Cotswolds (acting for the Park).

Plaudits in previous directories

“He is a man who displays consummate attention to detail.” (Chambers UK 2017)

He understands the goals of corporate clients and steers the case skilfully to achieve them’ (Legal 500 2016)

“He climbs into the detail of the case and gets his head around a mass of technical information” (Chambers UK 2016)

‘There isn’t a better senior junior around for corporate defendants faced with regulatory prosecutions.’ (Legal 500 2015)

“Has a great mind and manner that inspires confidence in clients” (Legal 500 2014)

“He’s a well road-tested advocate who is very affable.” “He’s very good at dealing with the client and empathising with them.” (Chambers UK 2015)

“an excellent legal brain”, and is “willing to put in the hard work” (Legal 500 2013)

“He puts enormous energy and time into cases, and knows his brief in huge detail.” “He prepares every case meticulously, and judges like his concise and incisive advocacy.” (Chambers UK 2014)

“delightful, and extremely thorough. He has a really good understanding of technical detail, and is an opponent that gets on with the job without being unnecessarily aggressive” (Chambers UK 2013)

“Toby Riley-Smith is ‘hardworking’, ‘good with clients at all levels’, ‘responsive’, and a ‘skilful, eloquent advocate.’ ” (Legal 500 2012)

“diligent and well-prepared counsel” (Chambers 2012)

“makes it his business to know his cases better than anyone else in the courtroom, but is also eloquent, polite and exceptionally skilful” (Legal 500 2011)

“phenomenally hardworking and absolutely excellent on his feet” (Legal 500 2010)

“a pleasant, understated advocate who wins over judges with his measured approach” (Chambers 2010)

“Toby Riley-Smith ‘is a charming advocate with great judgement.’ He defends a diverse clientele against prosecutions brought by the HSE and also acts for both sides in civil proceedings.” (Chambers UK 2010)

“Hard-working, commercial and pragmatic, Toby Riley-Smith is a key figure on both the criminal and civil sides of health and safety. On the civil front he acts for both claimants and defendants, while on the criminal side he has enjoyed a burgeoning prosecution practice in the past few months. Observers highlight his ability to come up with a well-considered view and set out all the options available.” (Chambers UK 2009) “

‘…doesn’t jump in with two feet’ but instead chooses to ‘take things in, churn them over and come out with something very considered.’ ” (Chambers UK 2008)

“Defending businesses in health and safety prosecutions, he comes across as ‘utterly pragmatic and not overbearing in the least.’ ” (Chambers UK 2007)

“…just gets better with every case” (Legal 500 2007)

“Toby Riley-Smith has marked out as having a ‘superb courtroom manner’ born of a ‘natural, pragmatic and sympathetic nature.’ ” (Chambers UK 2006)

A leading Solicitor describes junior Toby Riley-Smith as “a dream barrister” who is “lovely on his feet.” (Legal 500 2005)

Representative cases

grid list
  • R v Bakkavor Foods Limited (Manchester Crown Court) (2017)
  • Bolle Transport BV v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWCA Civ 783 (CA): Carriers’ liability

    Clandestine entrants into United Kingdom.

  • ICS Car Srl & Another v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWCA Civ 394

    Afghan nationals discovered in trailer -Secretary of State imposing civil penalties on appellants – scope of statutory defence.

  • R v Fresenius Kabi Limited (Sheffield Crown Court) (2016)
  • Levene v MOJ (2015)

    Claim for damages by employee of court service.

  • Hamilton v MoD (2014)

    Claim for damages following helicopter crash.

Environment

Toby is a leading practitioner in environmental law.  He is recommended for his work in this field by Legal 500 (2017) (He has an excellent forensic brain”) and Chambers UK 2018 (He is thorough and really good at balancing the merits and demerits of a case.” “An excellent and really charming advocate.”).

He has particular expertise in the criminal and civil litigation following explosions, fire, floods and polluting events – whether enforcement action by regulators (such as the Environment Agency or HSE or COMAH authorities) or compensation claims for nuisance, personal injury or property damage by individuals or their insurers.

He has particular experience of mass tort claims – having defended Shell in the thousands of claims brought by Nigerian nationals in this jurisdiction following oil spills near Bodo in the Niger Delta.

He acted for the claimant in the ground-breaking nuisance claim against the owners of a local wind-turbine (Siraj v Hall) – the first case in this jurisdiction in which a wind turbine was found to constitute an actionable nuisance.

He is currently defending landowners whose shooting activities are said to constitute a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

As a former “A-Panellist”, he has represented the Environment Agency in flooding claims – in particular those nuisance claims made by home-owners in Eltham, South London, following the flooding of the River Quaggy in 2013.

International mass tort claims

  • Bomu-Bonny Oil Pipeline Litigation: He defended Shell (with Charles Gibson QC, Geraint Webb QC, Adam Heppinstall, Abigail Cohen and Ognjen Miletic) against thousands of claims brought in these courts by Nigerian nationals following oil spills near Bodo in the Niger Delta in 2008.
  • Peruvian copper mining: With Charles Gibson QC, he represented the defendant mining company in Tabra v. Monterrico Metals PLC, a group action brought by 33 Peruvian environmental protestors for personal injuries sustained in the course of their protest in Peru against the mining activity of the subsidiary of an English parent-company.

Environmental pollution

He has been instructed in claims arising out of disasters at COMAH sites, including:

  • Buncefield Disaster: he advised the insurer of one of the oil companies who operated the Hertfordshire Oil Storage Depot on matters arising from the explosion and fire in December 2005 and the consequent litigation.
  • Bacton Gas Terminal Explosion: representing Shell UK Limited in its joint prosecution by the HSE and the Environment Agency following an explosion at a gas terminal on the Norfolk coast in 2008.
  • HSE v Grosvenor Chemicals: litigation following an explosion at a COMAH site in 2009 and subsequent toxic spill into the River Wharfe.
  • Highways England v Aviva: litigation following a spill of hydraulic oil onto a motorway and its pollution of a canal.

Fire claims

He has been instructed in a number of claims (fatal accident, personal injury, nuisance and commercial) arising out of fires at residential and commercial premises, including:

  • Shepherds Bush Tower Block Fire: a group of claims by residents of a tower block owned by a local authority following a fire (acting for the manufacturer of the electrical device).
  • Thomas More Square Fire: a commercial claim by the owner of commercial premises in the City of London following a fire in the generator room (acting for the manufacturer of the generator)
  • Grenfell Tower Fire: he is instructed on behalf of the manufacturer of the implicated fridge freezer).

Flooding claims

  • Flood at a caravan park: acted for Teignbridge District Council (led by Lawrence West QC) in successfully defending a high-value flooding claim in the TCC.
  • Flooded farm land:, acted for a farmer (led by Lawrence West QC) in a high-value agricultural flooding claim.
  • River Quaggy Floods: acting for the Environment Agency in a group of claims brought by householders in south London arising from the flooding of the River Quaggy in 2013.

Highways claims

  • Damage to motorways: he is acting for insurer defendants in claims brought by the highways agency against insured drivers for damage to the highway.
  • Icy roads:  he is acting for insured claimants suing the local highway authority following accidents in icy conditions.

 Land contamination

  • Recycling products: criminal prosecution following the contamination of land with recycled household waste.
  • Metal contamination: following contamination of industrial premises by chemicals used in electro-plating processes.

Waste management

  • Recycled mulch: he appeared for a significant East Anglian waste management company in its high-profile prosecution.
  • Biofuel: he is currently acting for the producer of waste used as biofuel facing commercial claims by those using the fuel.

Water

  • Water leaks: he successfully sought injunctive relief on behalf of a water company in the Magistrates Court.
  • Statutory Compensation Scheme: he is acting for the environment agency in compensation claims arising under the statutory scheme in the Water Resources Act 1991.

Wind turbine nuisance

  • He acted for the claimants in a ground-breaking nuisance claim brought in the TCC by a local resident against the owners of a wind-turbine in Yorkshire. The case established for the first time in domestic courts that a wind turbine was an actionable nuisance.

Plaudits in previous directories

“He is very hardworking, commercially pragmatic, understanding of client needs and excellent on his feet.” (Legal 500 2017)

A very good advocate who gauges the tribunal well. He is excellent with clients, and very patient and thorough in his preparation” (Chambers UK 2017)

“A junior with a strong environmental practice that is particularly concerned with nuisance cases, property damage matters and claims relating to natural disasters. …He can be very innovative, and come up with solutions that no one else would think. He is also a good team player.” (Chambers UK 2016)

‘An acute eye for detail and superb in his advocacy.’ (Legal 500 2015)

“A great mind coupled with a manner which inspires confidence in all his clients” (Legal 500 2014)

“An expert in post-disaster litigation… He is a clear thinker and a good advocate, who certainly gets the ear of the court.” (Chambers UK 2015)

 

Representative cases

grid list
  • Siraj v Hall (TCC in Leeds) (2015)

    Wind turbine a private nuisance.

  • Bodo Community & Others v Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd [2014] EWHC 217

    Costs – Order for costs – Preliminary issue – Proceedings arising from oil spillages in Nigeria – Defendant company admitting liability for spillages – Court determining preliminary issues – Appropriate order for costs.

  • Bodo Community & Others v Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria Ltd [2014] EWHC 1973 (TCC)

    Preliminary issues of Nigerian Law – ouster of common law by statutory scheme – measure of loss – public nuisance – jurisdiction.

Consumer Law (including Banking, Consumer Credit & Consumer Finance)

Toby is a leading specialist in consumer law – with particular expertise in the regimes regulating both consumer finance and consumer products. His expertise in relation to consumer products is explained in the Product Liability section of his CV.

His consumer finance work has been recognised by Legal 500 2016 – which recommend him in the field of both Banking and Finance (including consumer credit) (Hardworking and committed, the soul of courtesy), Consumer Law and Financial Services (“He has exceptional intellect and an inexhaustible capacity for hard work).

He is also ranked as a leader in Consumer Law by Chambers 2018 (Toby is always a pleasure to work with; he is solicitor and client-friendly, extremely hard-working and commercially savvy.” “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of consumer credit and a very pragmatic approach to dispute resolution“).

He acts in claims by banks, debt buyers and factors to recover consumer debts under a wide variety of regulated and unregulated financial instruments.

He is regularly instructed in commercial litigation arising out of goods subject to finance.

He specialises in consumer-driven group litigation involving financial products.

He has experience of secret commission claims against banks, asset finance companies, mortgage brokers and letting agents.

Clients have included Capital One Bank PLC, 1st Credit Finance Limited, Mazda Financial Services PLC, Peugeot Citroen UK Ltd, Santander and Lloyds Bank.

He is a co-editor of Butterworths’ Commercial and Consumer Law Handbook; a contributing editor of Goode: Consumer Credit Law and Practice; and a co-author of the Blackstone’s Guide to the Consumer Credit Act 2006.

Asset Finance

He is regularly instructed in commercial litigation arising out of goods subject to finance.  Recent instructions include:

  • Claims against banks for defective manufacturing machinery under hire purchase agreements
  • Claims arising out of hiring of photocopiers
  • Claims for the recovery of goods owned by finance house
  • Disputes over title to cars subject to stocking agreements

Consumer law group actions

In addition to the consumer group actions involving defective products which are referred to above, Toby has advised and/or acted in consumer-driven group litigation arising out of the failure of financial products including:

  • groups of shareholders against executives accused of publishing misleading financial information,
  • mortgage mis-selling claims,
  • consumer claims against banks arising out of alleged non-compliance with consumer credit legislation, including the leading case of Sternlight v Barclays Bank,
  • groups of claims following failed traded endowment policies (TEP) investment schemes,
  • claims against estate agents.

Consumer Credit claims

He has great experience of litigation involving consumer credit agreements – including those involving:

  • Non-compliance with ss 60 – 64 of the CCA 1974
  • Non-compliance with ss 77 – 78 of the CCA 1974
  • Unfair relationships / extortionate credit bargains
  • PPI misspelling
  • Professional negligence claims arising out of the drafting of non-compliant contractual documentation

Consumer Credit – licensing/authorisation

He acted successfully for the OFT in one of the last licensing appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal under the old regime (FSF v OFT).

Consumer Credit – non-contentious

He advises on all aspects of compliance with the various formal requirements of the consumer credit regime.  He is a consultee of BERR.  He has recently been advising various Government Departments on the impact of the financial services regulation on policy and its implementation.

Consumer Protection

He has significant experience of the civil and criminal aspects of the regime introduced by the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and its subordinate legislation: for more details please see Product Liability above.                                                                                                               

Insolvency

He has been instructed in insolvency proceedings that involve consumer credit and other retail finance issues. This usually takes the form of defending applications to set aside statutory demands and applications to annul bankruptcy orders.

Secret Commission Claims

He has experience of individual (and groups of) secret commission claims made against banks, asset finance companies, hire purchase lenders, a building society, a mortgage broker and letting agents.

Plaudits from previous directories

“He’s very clearly spoken, technically gifted and a fine advocate.” (Consumer Law, Chambers UK 2017)

‘A real leader in banking and finance; his appointment to silk was fully justified’) (Banking and Finance (including consumer credit) Legal 500 2016

Impressive attention to detail and experience in the field.’(Consumer Law Legal 500 2016)

He is probably the best junior around for commercial clients in the crossover of health and safety, product liability and consumer law. He is supremely organised, meticulously prepared and he takes enormous trouble to get to grips with the client’s needs…. Judges appreciate his straightforward manner.” (Chambers UK 2016)

‘He provides pragmatic solutions and explains technical issues in a language that is easy to understand.’ (Legal 500 2015).

“An intellectual heavyweight; diligent and courteous.” (Legal 500 2015)

“He has a charming and eloquent manner, and is superb at thinking on his feet”. (Legal 500 2014)

“he’s commercially oriented and puts energy and commitment into getting the best result for the client” (Chambers 2014)

“sparkling in court” (Legal 500 2013)

a recognised expert in both consumer finance and food law” and “very much a detail man, who is very good at dealing with the technical aspects of claims. He is an extremely hard worker and is always on top of his cases” (Chambers UK 2013).

“one of the big guns and [we] use him on difficult and complex cases. Judges like him a lot as he’s a very good advocate and very personable” (Chambers UK 2012)

“whenever there is a major disagreement he goes in and breathes fire. He is very much the heavyweight to call if you have a serious issue” (Chambers UK 2011).

“approachable and pragmatic… extremely intelligent, quick thinking and very robust in court” (Legal 500 2010)

“Toby Riley-Smith’s expertise spans consumer credit and consumer protection; He is ‘personable, hard-working and clever, and has a very nice manner with lay clients.’ ” (Chambers UK 2010)

“Toby Riley-Smith is ‘a formidable player’ in consumer credit and lauded by sources for being ‘excellent and thoroughly knowledgeable.’ ” (Chambers UK 2009)

“Acting for both lenders and consumers he is involved in litigation but also advises in non-contentious matters.” (Chambers UK 2008)

“Toby Riley-Smith specialises in consumer credit law and also offers expertise in sale of goods and retention of title cases” (Legal 500 2006)

Representative cases

grid list
  • Smith v 1st Credit (Finance) Ltd & Another - [2012] All ER (D) 134 (Sep)

    Bankruptcy – Annulment – Appeal – Consumer Credit Act 1974, s 82A.

  • Sternlight v Barclays Bank & Other Cases - [2010] All ER (D) 33 (Dec): [2010] EWHC 1865

    Consumer credit test cases -Form and content of agreement – Whether interest rate misstated and agreements ‘irredeemably unenforceable’.

  • Conister Trust Limited v John Hardman & Another [2008] EWCA Civ 841

    Consumer Credit – unenforceable agreements – whether there was a liability sufficient to bind a third party indemnitor.

Personal Injury

Toby’s product liability, health and safety and environmental cases often involve claims for personal injuries (see above).  His other work in this field has included:

  • Assault claims: he represented the defendant mining company in Tabra v. Monterrico Metals PLC, claims brought by 33 Peruvian environmental protestors for personal injuries sustained in the course of their protest in Peru against the mining activity of the subsidiary of an English parent-company.
  • Brain injury claims: claims for chronic pain and other non-organic presentation.
  • Disaster claims: personal injury claims arising out of disasters such as the Ladbroke Grove rail crash.
  • War claims: claims following injury or death in conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, including claims by both military personnel and civilians.
  • Road rage: a high-value personal injury claim following a road rage incident.

Clinical Negligence

Toby’s work in the field of product liability often involves issues of clinical negligence.  His recent work in this field has included:

  • Clinical trials: an Inquest following the death of a patient who was involved in the clinical trial of a new drug.
  • Medical devices: negligence claims against clinicians arising out of the use of medical devices.
  • Pharmaceutical products: negligence claims against clinicians arising out of the use of pharmaceutical products.

Inquests

Many of Toby’s product liability, health & safety and environmental cases involve fatalities.  His practice in these areas has therefore taken him to Coroners’ Courts around the country.  He has therefore developed significant experience in inquests and coronial law.

Toby usually acts for organisations or individuals who have been identified as properly interested persons in the preparation for, and the attendance at, inquest hearings.

His clients come from a wide variety of different sectors (including construction, healthcare, industrial, leisure, life sciences, oil/gas, railways, retail, schools, shipping and waterways).  Recent clients have included: Associated British Ports, Bakkavor Foods, Boston Scientific, L’Oreal, Medtronic, Merck, Siemens, Taylor Wimpey and Tesco.

As a former “A-Panellist”, he has attended inquests for HM Prison Service.

Construction

  • An inquest following a fall from a mobile elevated working platform near Bristol (acting for the manufacturer).
  • An inquest into the death of a motorist at a new roundabout (acting for a construction company).
  • A double fatality in the course of the construction of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (acting for the German manufacturer of the locomotive in the Inquest and subsequent high court commercial litigation).

Employees

  • A fatal accident to a security guard at the Port of Immingham (acting for the port owner at the Inquest).
  • A fatal accident at a food processing plant in Wigan (acting for the employer at the Inquest and at the subsequent sentencing hearing).
  • A fatal accident in the hold of a container ship at Grimsby Docks (acting for the employer at the Inquest and in the subsequent civil claim).
  • A fatal accident at work (acting for an energy company before the Coroner).
  • A fatal friendly-fire incident in the Middle East (acting for the deceased’s soldier’s family at the Inquest, and in the subsequent civil proceedings against MoD).
  • An inquest into an electrocution at work (acting for the site manager).
  • An inquest into a fatal accident following a tyre explosion at Ipswich Docks (acting for the port owner)
  • An inquest following a death whilst unloading the hold of a ship (acting for the port owner.)
  • An inquest following a fatal accident at a warehouse in Corby (acting for the employer).
  • A fatal fire at a potato factory in Cambridgeshire (acting for the owner before the Coroner).

Healthcare

  • An inquest into the death of a patient whilst in respite care near Worcester (acting for the care provider).
  • An inquest into the death of a dementia patient at a residential care home in Brighton (acting for the home).
  • An inquest into the suicide of a young out-patient with mental disabilities in North London (acting for his carers).
  • An inquest following a death in a nursing home in Lincoln (acting for the manufacturer of a relevant medical device).
  • An inquest into the death of an elderly tenant in a sheltered housing scheme in Tamworth (acting for the landlord).
  • A fatal fire at a residential care home in Hertfordshire (acting for the care home before the Coroner).

Prisons

  • An inquest into the death of a prisoner whilst in custody (acting for HM Prison Service).

Retail premises

  • An inquest following the death of a customer in a supermarket in Buckinghamshire.

School

  • An inquest into a suicide at an independent school (acting for the Governors).

Waterways

  • An inquest into the death of a member of the public at the docks in Port Neath (acting for Associated British Ports).
  • A fatal accident during a diving operation at a freshwater lock on the River Severn (acting for British Waterways before the Coroner, in the Bristol Crown Court and in the civil claim).
  • An inquest into a drowning at a leisure park in the Cotswolds (acting for the Park).

 

What the directories say


"A very good advocate who gauges the tribunal well. He is excellent with clients, and very patient and thorough in his preparation."
Chambers UK 2017

"Fantastic to work with and such a grafter."
Chambers UK 2017

'He has exceptional intellect and an inexhaustible capacity for hard work.'
Legal 500 2017

Instructing Toby Riley-Smith QC

If you require help or advice please contact our clerking team

Call +44 (0)20 7583 9020
or email

Appointments
  • Junior Counsel to the Crown, Attorney-General’s A Panel (2012-2016)
  • Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (2015)
  • Queen’s Counsel (2016)
Publications
  • Contributor to Product Liability: Law and Insurance (2000)
  • Co-editor of Halsbury’s Laws of England (Consumer Credit) (2000)
  • Co-editor of Halsbury’s Laws of England (Civil Procedure) (2001)
  • Co-author of Blackstone’s Guide to the Consumer Credit Act 2006 (2006)
  • Co-editor of Butterworths Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents (Consumer Credit) 5th Edition (2007)
  • Co-author of Butterworths Commercial and Consumer Law Handbook (2009-2017)
  • Contributing editor of Goode: Consumer Credit Law and Practice (looseleaf) (2007-2017)
Memberships
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator
  • Commercial Bar Association
  • Health & Safety Lawyers Association
  • Medico-Legal Society
  • Personal Injuries Bar Association
Education
  • Eton College
  • Trinity College, University of Cambridge (BA (Hons), MA)
  • City University (Dip Law)
  • Inns of Court School of Law
  • Jules Thorne Scholar (Middle Temple)
Regulatory Information

All members of Chambers are registered with the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales. For our standard contractual terms click here.

Bar Council Number: 34508

VAT Registration Number: 672748010

Legal Status: QC

Professional Insurance: All members of Chambers have professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Ltd. Territorial coverage is world-wide and subject to the term of the Bar Mutual. Click here for details.

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