Professional Experience

Helen Watts specialises in professional liability, and has a particular interest in claims against medical and legal professionals. She has represented doctors and hospitals at complex and difficult Fatal Accident Inquiries, including the Inquiry into the deaths in George Square, Glasgow in December 2014.

Her professional liability experience also includes cases involving engineers, architects, surveyors, auditors, investment fund managers and accountants. She is ranked by the Legal 500 2014 as a leading junior in medical and professional negligence matters.

She also acts on behalf of professionals, notably solicitors and doctors, in professional regulatory matters and has experience of judicial reviews relating to professional disciplinary proceedings.

Helen is also regularly instructed in commercial and insurance disputes.

She was awarded the Lord Reid Scholarship for 2008-2009.

  • Case History

    Public and Fatal Accident Inquiries

    Helen has been instructed in numerous inquiries. Examples include:

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into 6 deaths at George Square, Glasgow, in December 2014
    Helen acted as sole counsel to a doctor who had previously had contact with the driver of the bin lorry involved in the fatal collision in George Square.

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into 14 deaths at Rosepark Care Home in January 2004
    Helen acted as junior counsel to James Wolffe QC and Robert QC in the largest and longest running FAI ever conducted in Scotland.

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of John Willock
    Helen represented the Out of Hours service provided by NHS Glasgow in this complex and long running medical FAI relating to the death of Mr Willock following various contacts with his GP, NHS24, and the Out of Hours service.

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Judith Laing
    Helen represented NHS Glasgow in this medical FAI relating to the death of Mrs Laing, who died of complications following surgery for a femoral hernia.

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Robert Cook
    Helen represented NHS Glasgow in this medical FAI relating to the death of Mr Cook Laing, who committed suicide in prison whilst under the care of psychiatric services

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Andrew Hamilton
    Helen represented NHS Dumfries and Galloway in this medical FAI relating to the death of Mr Hamilton, who died of a heart attack at the age of 27.

    Clinical Liability

    Helen has a very busy clinical liability practice including cases involving obstetrics, neurosurgery, neurology, oncology, cardiology, ophthalmology, haematology, dermatology, out of hours primary care, neurology, A&E and general practice.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Iain Ferguson QC in a complex claim about delayed diagnosis of a spinal fracture allegedly leading to neurological damage
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to David Stephenson QC in an obstetric claim in which the sum sued for exceeded £10,000,000
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Alastair Duncan QC in a fatal claim about alleged delay in diagnosis of bowel cancer
    • Acting as junior counsel to David Stephenson QC in a fatal claim about alleged delay in diagnosis of breast cancer
    • Acting as sole counsel for the defenders in a fatal claim about an atypically presenting heart attack in a young woman
    • Acting as sole counsel for the defenders in a fatal claim about a stillborn baby
    • Acting as sole counsel for a consultant plastic surgeon in a claim about an allegedly negligently performed facelift
    • Acting as sole counsel for the defenders in a claim about alleged delay in diagnosis of a rare sub cutaneous t-cell lymphoma
    • Acting as sole counsel for the defenders in a fatal claim about alleged consent deficiencies relating to surgery performed whilst the deceased was taking blood thinning medication

    Professional Liability

    Helen has a very busy professional liability practice and is regularly instructed to act in claims relating to solicitors, advocates, accountants, surveyors and architects.
     
    Recent instructions include:
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Roddy Dunlop QC in a seven figure claim relating to failure by solicitors to obtain a standard security in relation to loan funds advanced by a commercial lender
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Alistair Clark QC (as he then was) on behalf of the pursuers, a major commercial lender, in pursuing seven figure negligence claims against solicitors and surveyors relating to their advance of loan funds for the purchase of commercial property
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Heriot Currie QC for one of the defenders (a firm of architects) in a seven figure multi-party claim relating to construction and design defects at a major shopping centre
    • Acting as Junior Counsel to Alastair Duncan QC for one of the defenders in a claim against both solicitors and counsel relating to alleged negligence by family lawyers relating to the preparation of a settlement agreement
    • Acting as sole counsel for the pursuer in a claim against solicitors for allowing the time bar of her clinical negligence action against a health board

    Cathcart v Law Society of Scotland 2013 CSOH 104: Acting for a solicitor in an appeal against a sentence imposed by the Scottish Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. 

    Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of John Willock: Acting for Greater Glagsow Health Board in this complex and long running fatal accident inquiry. 

  • Directories

    Legal 500 2016 - Tier 1 ranking for medical and professional negligence

Professional Career to date

Devil Masters: Alastair Duncan QC, Ronaldo Renucci.

2009: admitted to the Faculty of Advocates
2006 - 2008: Simpson and Marwick, Edinburgh

Prior to coming to the bar Helen spent two years working in litigation at Simpson and Marwick. She gained experience across a broad range of contentious work, and in particular of professional negligence and professional regulatory cases.

Education & Professional Qualifications

Lord Reid Scholarship (2008 - 2009) 
Diploma in Legal Practice (2006)
LLB with Distinction, 2005, 
BA (Hons) (First Class), 2003