Who? Sue Bowler, partner at Coffin Mew, Portsmouth.
Why is she in the news? Represented Royal Marine Phillip Eaglesham, who won a High Court battle against the Ministry of Defence after suffering a life-changing disability as a result of contracting Q Fever while serving in Afghanistan.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This is a very complex case, involving MoD policy and allegations of clinical negligence. It has been a huge team effort between myself and counsel – Theo Huckle QC and Paul Kilcoyne. The court has made no ruling on the liability of the MoD for what happened to Phillip Eaglesham, but judgment has been given because of the MoD’s failure to comply with its obligations to provide copies of all documents relevant to the case despite being granted an extra 15 months to compile the materials. Phillip has gone from being a strong, fit Royal Marine to someone with a very severe disability, all because of contracting Q Fever. He showed remarkable determination and strength of character to represent Team Ireland at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Most of my dealings have been with the BBC and I have been really impressed by their determination to report the case positively and accurately. Having a top-tier PR company working with me (Midnight Communications) has made it all much easier – the logistics of handling so much media attention in a short space of time is quite a challenge. It also helped that we were prepared before the hearing, so that we could respond quickly as the story broke.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘For me it was a late decision – I needed to apply for university and didn’t know what I wanted to study. Once I researched law, I was hooked and haven’t looked back.’
Career high: ‘Each time I secure a significant award of compensation for a severely disabled client I get an immense sense of satisfaction that I have made a real difference to someone’s quality of life. I am also a Court of Protection panel deputy so I have a continuing role in managing awards for clients who lack mental capacity.’
Career low: ‘The constant attack on the civil litigation system, and particularly personal injury and clinical negligence, by successive governments.’