Areas of Expertise
Joanne is a very experienced advocate who has developed considerable expertise in employment law, personal injury law, public law and the law relating to inquests. For many years, she has been highly commended for her advocacy skills in all the leading directories. In the most recent edition of Legal 500 Joanne is categorised as a Tier 1 Counsel for employment, personal injury and clinical negligence. She is widely acknowledged as a very skilful and determined cross examiner and she has a complete understanding of all aspects of contested trial work.
Joanne has a very substantial employment law practice. She is primarily, but not exclusively, instructed on behalf of Respondents. In employer liability personal injury cases she is regularly instructed on behalf of Defendants in disease work. However, in all other types of employer liability cases she has a thriving practice on behalf of Claimants. In clinical negligence, Joanne is regularly instructed on behalf of Claimants in which difficult liability and causation issues invariably arise. Her public law work is primarily concerned with claims for judicial review in the Administrative Court in Wales and in the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Aslyum Chamber). In recent years Joanne has been engaged in many Inquests some of which have attracted considerable media attention.
Joanne was first appointed to the Attorney General’s Civil Panel Counsel in 2007. Since that time she has been re-appointed to the panel in open competition in 2012 and 2018.
In 2016 Joanne became a member of the steering committee of the Employment Lawyers Association Wales.
Porth County Comprehensive School, Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taf
University of Bristol, 2:1 LLB
Bar Vocational Course, Cardiff
Joanne appears regularly in the High Court throughout England and Wales defending claims for judicial review brought against government departments. She now has substantial experience in immigration and asylum cases which invariably involve Human Rights arguments and arguments about the proper interpretation of the Immigration Rules. She has also acted in challenges brought against the Department of Work and Pensions in claims brought against the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
In 2017, Joanne was instructed to challenge the conclusion of an inquest relating to the death of an elderly person in a care home (having appeared for the family at the inquest). The Attorney General granted a fiat which enabled the deceased family to apply to the Divisional Court for an order to quash the conclusion of the inquest and to direct that a fresh inquest should be held. It was necessary for Joanne to settle all the relevant documentation and the skeleton Argument to support the claim in the Divisional Court. The challenge was successful.
Joanne acts, principally, for Claimants in a variety of different types of clinical negligence claims. Invariably, she advises on the prospects of establishing liability and causation and, by way of example, she has been involved in cases relating to negligent misdiagnosis relating to cancer and heart disease. She has been instructed to act on behalf of a doctor whose cancer was missed on two separate scans; on behalf of a retired consultant maxilla-facial surgeon who had been suffering from coronary heart disease for many years but received medical treatment which was wholly inappropriate for the condition from which he suffered; on behalf of a patient whose serious back condition was misdiagnosed with catastrophic consequences and on behalf of a patient who was misdiagnosed in respect of a shoulder injury with the result that necessary surgery wasn't carried out leaving him with permanent life changing injuries.
Joanne is frequently instructed to attend inquests in which there are prospects of claims for clinical negligence arising. She seeks to provide a service whereby she is involved in such cases from the beginning of the investigation to final disposal of the claim. Recently, Joanne acted for the family of a deceased man in his early 40s who had died in hospital as a consequence of developing sepsis following bowel surgery. Joanne represented the family at the Inquest. Thereafter, she provided advice on liability (including limitation issues), causation and quantum, settled the pleadings and conducted negotiations at a joint settlement meeting resulting in a settlement of the claim well into six figures.
Joanne acts in a wide variety of employment disputes for a number of public bodies. These include a number of UK government departments, a number of local health boards and a number of local authorities. On behalf of these public bodies, she has been engaged in defending all kinds of employment related claims but particularly claims for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages, disputes surrounding the transfer of undertakings and discrimination of all kinds. Joanne is fully adept at handling the full range of issues that arise in such cases.
Joanne is particularly well regarded in discrimination cases. Over the lase five years, she has been regularly instructed to defend such claims on behalf of HMRC, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defence, the Office for National Statistics, Cardiff & Vale Local Health Board, Cwm Taf Local Health Board, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board and Public Health Wales. Recently, she has acted for the DVLA in a hotly contested unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claim and she is currently instructed in very substantial disability claims on behalf of the Inland Revenue, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Cardiff & Vale Local Health Board and Public Health Wales and a very significant and serious race discrimination case on behalf of HMRC in which the Claimant makes allegations against over thirty fellow employees including very senior officers of HMRC.
Joanne’s work on behalf of local authorities has included advising upon a wide range of issues such as the legal status of the employment relationship between the local authority and the governing body of schools, disciplinary processes and the correct procedures to follow in cases in which protective disclosures have or may have been made in the particular context of child safeguarding. Most recently she acted for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in the successful defence of a claim for automatic unfair dismissal on the grounds of “whistle blowing” involving a senior employee of the Council.
In July 2015 Joanne successfully appeared in the Employment Appeal Tribunal on behalf of the Ministry of Defence in respect of a case concerning the meaning of the Agency Worker Regulations 2010. Click here. This was a very significant case in relation to the law relating to agency workers in that this was the first case at Employment Appeal Tribunal level in which parts of the Regulations were interpreted authoritatively. The Claimant’s application to appeal to the Court of Appeal was refused.
In addition to her Tribunal work, Joanne also has experience of acting as the legal advisor to panels constituted to hear disciplinary matters involving police officers and civilian police employees. This role has included acting in an advisory capacity to both disciplinary panels and appeal panels.
Since the inception of the Employment Tribunal Litigant in Person Support Scheme (ELIPS) Joanne has supported it whole heartedly by offering her services free of charge at the Cardiff Employment Tribunal whenever other professional commitments allow. Under the scheme complicated cases brought by unrepresented employees are listed for various kinds of hearings and the barrister or solicitor on call is expected to offer sensible and practical advice and represent the employee at a hearing. Joanne finds this pro bono work very fulfilling and gives her insight into the difficulties faced by employees who may have been treated unfairly. At a recent ELA conference attended by the President of the Employment Tribunals for England and Wales Joanne was delighted to be one of the principal speakers on the scope and benefits of ELIPS in Wales.
"Joanne Willliams is very professional and extremely effective"
Legal 500 2011
"She leaves no stone unturned during cross-examination."
Legal 500 2015
In recent years Joanne has made frequent appearances at Inquests on behalf of a number of different organisations and clients. She has acted on behalf of the Ministry of Justice in respect of deaths in prisons in Cardiff, Swansea, Exeter and in Kent. She is fully conversant with all the necessary requirement for the conduct of inquests which need to comply with Article 2 of the ECHR. She has acted for a doctor who was potentially at fault in respect of the death of a baby during the course of delivery at hospital. Joanne has also been instructed on behalf of insurers in respect of deaths which have occurred in the workplace and in road traffic accidents.
Joanne regularly acts for the families of deceased persons. In 2016 she acted for the daughters of an elderly lady who had died in a care home. The daughters were convinced that their mother had been treated negligently by some of the staff at the care home relating to the way in which she was fed. The pathologist who gave evidence to the inquest initially reported that the cause of death was aspiration pneumonia but during the course of his evidence without any prior warning, he changed his opinion and asserted a wholly different cause of death. As a consequence the coroner concluded that death was attributable to natural causes. Following the inquest, the daughters obtained independent pathological evidence which demonstrated, very convincingly, that the cause of death had been aspiration pneumonia. Based upon this evidence, primarily, Joanne sought a fiat of the Attorney General to challenge the conclusion of the inquest and, his fiat having been granted, proceedings in the Divisional Court were instituted which led to the quashing of the conclusion and a new inquest being ordered. Joanne will act for the daughters at the new inquest which is yet to be listed.
Most recently, Joanne has acted for the widow of a young man who died in hospital as a consequence of clinical negligence and the dependents of a young man who was electrocuted during the course of his employment as an electrician. Following the inquests, Joanne was instructed in both civil claims. One has been settled on advantageous terms and the other is ongoing but with every expectation of a favourable outcome.
Joanne is currently instructed on behalf of the family of an elderly person who died in a care home. The inquest is yet to take place but there are significant and serious issues as to the standard of care which the deceased received whilst resident at the care home. The care home has been the subject of detailed investigation by Care Inspectorate Wales.
Joanne has a substantial personal injury practice acting for both Claimants and Defendants in employers’ liability, public liability, occupiers liability, product liability and road traffic cases. She has experience in disease cases, including HAVS, deafness and stress claims.
Joanne has acted for Local Health Boards across Wales, many of the major insurance companies, a number of government departments and she has also been instructed on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Over the last few years in particular Joanne has been instructed with much greater frequency on behalf of Claimants through their unions and under conditional fee arrangements in a variety of claims. She has considerable experience in advisory work, settling pleadings, including schedules of special damages and counter schedules and her advocacy experience extends to a high level, including the High Court and the Court of Appeal. Recently Joanne was instructed and led in a very serious brain injury case which attracted an award in excess of 1.2 million.
Joanne is currently handling a large employers liability claim in which the Claimant was electrocuted at work as a result of which she suffered very significant neuro-psychiatric injuries, a fatal accident claim following the electrocution of an electrician during the course of his employment with his local authority employment and a claim by an anaesthetist in which she alleges that she has suffered a brain injury as a consequence of an unsafe system of work being in existence during the course of eye surgery at a hospital in London.
"The "Tough and clever advocate" Joanne Williams joins the tables on the strength of clients' admiration of her "ability to sort the wheat from the chaff – she does not waste time on the immaterial." She has a varied practice and is regularly involved in EL/PL and RTA cases for both defendants and claimants"
Chambers UK Guide 2012
"Joanne Williams has a broad personal injury practice which includes EL/PL and RTA cases."
Chambers UK Guide 2013
‘She is thorough in her preparation, and practical
and straight-talking in her advice.’
Legal 500 2015