"an exceptionally skilled advocate ... brilliant with figures, great with clients and a real fighter"

Chambers UK

Stephen Killalea QC

Year of Call: 1981 Silk: 2006

"an exceptionally skilled advocate ... brilliant with figures, great with clients and a real fighter"

Chambers UK

Stephen Killalea QC

Year of Call: 1981 Silk: 2006

"an exceptionally skilled advocate ... brilliant with figures, great with clients and a real fighter"

Chambers UK

Stephen Killalea QC

Year of Call: 1981 Silk: 2006

Stephen Killalea

"an exceptionally skilled advocate ... brilliant with figures, great with clients and a real fighter"

Chambers UK

Stephen Killalea QC

Year of Call: 1981 Silk: 2006

Stephen Killalea QC has a leading silk’s practice in personal injury specialising in representing claimants in catastrophic brain and spinal cases.

Stephen is also recognised as one of the leading health and safety silks in the country and specialises in criminal prosecutions arising out of fatalities or major incidents.

  • Recommendations

    Has an outstanding reputation in maximum severity spinal injury cases and for his adroit handling of the most complex liability disputes for claimants who have suffered life-changing injuries. He is able to advise both children and adult claimants on cases with substantial future care complexities. "A class act and a phenomenal advocate who has real charisma and is mesmerising." "The most formidable advocate I have come across." Acted in a claim involving a 13-year-old boy who sustained a brain injury in a road traffic accident. -  Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2018

    An outstanding personal injury lawyer who acts for catastrophically injured claimants in high-value, sensitive cases. He is notably good at complex RTA and hotel claims. "A very able silk, very good on high-value cases and focused on detail. He's a great advocate." - Travel: International Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2018

    "He is a brave and determined advocate with an excellent track record." - Personal Injury, Legal 500 2017

    "A real fighter, whose presence is reassuring for vulnerable clients." - Health and Safety, Legal 500 2017

    An outstanding personal injury lawyer who acts for catastrophically injured claimants in high-value, sensitive cases. He is notably good at complex RTA and hotel claims. "He is very good with clients and has a real eye for detail on quantum." "He cuts to the chase and addresses the important matters whilst also identifying novel issues that others wouldn't have thought of." "He's particularly clued up on jurisdiction issues." Acted in Emslie v RII, representing a claimant who was catastrophically injured in an RTA in the USA. The claimant alleged that the vehicle was unsafe to drive on the terrain in question. - Travel PI, Chambers UK 2017.

    Has an outstanding reputation in maximum severity spinal injury cases and for his adroit handling of the most complex liability disputes for claimants who have suffered life-changing injuries. He receives plaudits for his excellent client care, powerful advocacy and standout negotiation skill. "He's very affable and great with clients. He's a real street fighter and very tenacious." "He's very approachable, highly intelligent and a ferocious cross-examiner." "Just the most persuasive advocate." Appeared in Bridie Young (by her Mother and Litigation Friend Frances Young) v Goldern Coast Sporting Villas Limited. Represented the claimant, who suffered a brain injury when she was nine years old after falling off a zip wire in a pub garden. A settlement of £3.5 million was reached. - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2017

    Stephen Killalea QC is ranked as a Leading Silk for 'Personal Injury' who is "A brilliant catastrophic brain injury silk." Legal 500 2016

    Ranked as a Leading Silk in 'Health and Safety', Stephen Killalea QC is "A no-nonsense advocate who gets directly to the key issues in a difficult case" - Legal 500 2016

    Defends corporate and individual clients in criminal prosecutions brought by government regulators following workplace accidents and also provides non-contentious advice with respect to such issues as risk management. - Health & Safety, Chambers UK 2016

    A leading expert in catastrophic head, brain and spinal injuries. He is particularly valued by his clients for his aptitude for dealing with liability disputes in serious accidents. His practice is further bolstered by his extensive experience acting in health and safety prosecutions. "He will roll his sleeves up and get the results for your client; he is not scared of a fight." "He is one of the best PI silks, with particular expertise in spinal cord injury cases." Instructed in the Court of Appeal in Morcom v Biddick, a case concerning a duty of care dispute. - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2016

    Best known for his catastrophic brain injury work that touches on foreign law issues. He is noted for his activity on the claimant side. Strengths: "He's a very tough, determined advocate who is not afraid to get stuck in." "He is always pushing at the boundaries and trying to move the law on." - Travel, Chambers UK 2016

    "Strong client care and clear legal analysis." - Environment, Health and Safety, Legal 500 2015

    "He is fantastic with clients and will fight passionately on their behalf." - Personal Injury, Legal 500 2015

    Has a background in criminal law and is an expert in risk assessment. He specialises in complex cases, including those relating to corporate manslaughter and serious injury. Expertise: "He is particularly good at sorting the wood from the trees." "He provides pragmatic advice, and is able to immediately engage with the client." Recent work: Advised a defendant in a case concerning a gas cylinder which exploded while being filled with nitrogen gas, causing the accidental death of an employee, major injury to a member of the public and extensive property damage. - Health and Safety, Chambers UK 2015

    Identified by instructing solicitors and peers as an astute neurotrauma and spinal injury silk. He is particularly sought after for his careful and measured approach to cases involving children. Expertise: "He's got very good judgement, is well prepared, and has an easy and relaxed manner with clients and opponents alike. He gets the job done in the right way - by being combative but not aggressive." Recent work: Instructed in a seminal cross-border motor claim involving the TBI of a motorcyclist in Germany. - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2015

    Handles catastrophic injury abroad matters for claimants. He demonstrates particular expertise in cases concerning brain and spinal damage. Expertise: "He's got very good judgement, is well prepared and has an easy and relaxed manner with clients and opponents alike." "He's very clear and precise, and obviously knows his stuff inside out." Recent work: Represented Holly Raper, who sustained catastrophic injuries in a quad bike accident in Tasmania. - Travel: International Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2015

    Ranked as a Leading Silk in Environment, Health and Safety and Personal Injury. Described as "an exceptional advocate and tactician," "very experienced" and "combines being a true leader with being a real team player." - Legal 500 2014

    Noted in particular for his handling of matters relating to liability, he specialises in complex, high-value catastrophic claims relating to extremely severe brain and spinal injuries. He is commended by instructing solicitors for his advocacy and for his ability with clients. "If he believes there are prospects he'll fight a case. He's utterly brilliant at advocacy - it's a pleasure to watch [...] he's brilliant with clients - he has a down-to-earth, matter-of-fact manner. He always gets a handle on the key issues and his advice is succinct and to the point." - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2014

    An adept silk with a strong standing in the related area of personal injury. He is a popular choice for acting for companies in connection with fatal and life-changing injuries sustained by employees. “He is extremely sharp and incisive [...] in addition to being a first-rate advocate, he has a great ability to connect and understand what a client wants; he is exceptional.” - Health & Safety, Chambers UK 2014

    Ranked in band 1 of the top Personal Injury Silks. Ranked in band 1 of the top Health and Safety Silks - Chambers UK 2014

    "Expertly handles the full range of maximum severity cases." His practice is split between health and safety and personal injury, and he is widely regarded for his representation of claimants in catastrophic brain and spinal injury cases. Instructing solicitors positively enjoy working with a barrister who is "simply a delight with clients, but also offers all-round tactical ability." - Chambers UK 2013

    "Wonderful client management skills and an easy communication style … technically superb and always approachable" - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2012

    Ranked in band 1 of the top, Health and Safety Silks - Chambers UK 2012

    "An exceptionally skilled advocate ... brilliant with figures, great with clients and a real fighter … he can achieve some excellent results against the odds" - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2011

    A “formidable advocate” - Personal Injury, Legal 500 2011

    A class act due to his "charming, refreshingly measured" approach. Health & Safety - Chambers UK 2011

    "Never fails to get his point across, leaving clients feeling confident that no stone has been left unturned" Health and Safety and Environment, Legal 500 2010

    An impressive trinity of qualities: "Tactical acumen, an ability to build a rapport with clients and awe-inspiring performances in court" are all present in the make up of this hugely popular advocate. - Health and Safety, Chambers UK 2010

    Stephen Killalea QC is ... highly regarded and is "the personal injury silk of choice" for many interviewees Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2010

    Ranked in band 1 of the top health and safety silks Health and Safety, Chambers UK 2010

    "... quality of advocacy and tactical awareness that are second to none" Personal Injury, Legal 500 2009

    "A hard-working silk with international jurisdiction expertise," Stephen Killalea QC is known for his focus on highly complex brain and spinal injury litigation. One client commented: "He is one of the most powerful and impressive advocates I have come across, yet still has the ability to obtain the trust and respect of clients by speaking at a level appropriate to them" Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2009

    Also very much in his prime. "Combining skill and technical knowledge with the necessary amount of flamboyance in court," he has achieved impressive results in a number of complex cases over the past year. - Health & Safety, Chambers UK 2009

    "The straightforward and down to earth Stephen Killalea QC wins a wealth of commendations. He speaks in a language you can understand say clients... one of the rising stars of the field... [he] specialises in catastrophic spinal and brain injury cases and is often employed in multi-million pound cases" - Personal Injury, Chambers UK 2008

    Former winner of Chambers UK "Personal Injury Junior of the Year"

  • Personal Injury

    Add to Portfolio

    Stephen is a leading personal injury silk (band 1, Chambers UK 2014), with one of the most substantial catastrophic injury practices in the country. He acts for claimants with significant brain and spinal injuries both nationally and internationally

    He is known for his ability to tackle the most difficult and contentious cases whilst being attentive to the needs of clients.  He is frequently instructed in high-value cases in which there is a need for delicate and sensitive handling of the claimant, and family, with a substantial number of cases involving brain damaged children.

    Recent substantial concluded cases include:

    • Catastrophic brain injury (young boy in motorcycle accident): settlement of £1.9 million plus PPO of £130,000 for life (capital value £5.89 million)
    • Brain Damage: €7.3 million
    • Tetraplegia: £8.7 million (£3.1 million + PPO of £225,000)
    • Brain damage: £3.55 million (£1.75 million + PPO of £60,000)
    • Brain damage (accident in Rome): £3 million plus PPO of £210,000 (full liability capitalised value in excess of £10 million)
    • Tetraplegia (accident in Latvia): £5 million on basis 60% liability and having reached Insurers’ indemnity limit
    • Brain damage (boy in RTA): £3 million net
    • Brain damage: £1.1 million + PPO of £90,000 p.a. (scaffolding accident)
    • New Zealand yacht accident (confidentiality clause)
    • Child brain damage: £2.5 million + PPO of £45,000 rising to £90,000 and finally £135,000

    Current ongoing cases include:

    • Tetraplegia (swimming pool diving accident Portugal)
    • Tetraplegia (fall, Court of Appeal)
    • Tetraplegia (faulty vehicle, US Corporate Defendant)
    • Brain damage (misleading road layout)
    • Tetraplegia (stair fall)
    • Brain damage (emergency response vehicle accident)
    • Brain damage (young woman in minimally conscious state, accident in Australia)
    • Brain damaged soldier
    • Tetraplegia (claim against local Council) 
    • Motorcyclist (Persistent Vegetative State)
    • Tetraplegia (complicated by psychosis)
    • Brain damage and multiple catastrophic injuries
    • Brain damage (MIB clause 6 case)
    • Tetraplegia (collision with tractor)
    • Child brain damage (struck by bus)
    • Tetraplegia (staircase fall)
    • Tetraplegia (zip wire accident)
    • Paraplegia (motor cycle)
    • Tetraplegia (gymnastics accident)
    • Leg amputation (cyclist struck by lorry)
    • Brain damage (zip wire accident)
    • Brain damage (young mother in Persistent Vegetative State)
    • Brain damage (including hemiplegia)

    A number of cases involving brain damaged children sustaining injuries when young awaiting long term prognosis pending maturation of the brain.

    A further caseload of brain and spinal injuries involving uninsured drivers under the MIB Scheme.

  • Health & Safety

    Add to Portfolio

    Nominated for Chambers UK Health and Safety Silk of the Year in both 2010 and 2011, Stephen is a leading silk (band 1, Chambers UK 2014) with a top quality and varied health and safety practice. His key attributes in this field are his combination of technical understanding, together with excellent communication skills and with a reputation as an advocate which is second to none.

    He has acted in matters attracting public controversy, as well as those which are highly confidential, dealing with both with the same tact and discretion.

    Although fatal accident cases are a particular niche (having acted in cases ranging from roller-coaster accidents, railway workers, port fatalities and construction accidents, he has considerable experience of mainstream factories accidents - including those involving plant and machinery - and cases involving the full range of Health & Safety breaches with non-fatal consequences.

    Stephen’s abilities extend from advisory work with clients following an accident, to assistance with appeals against prohibition and improvement notices, as well as longer-term advice on risk management issues, drafting safety policies, and other matters. His experience as a leading Personal Injury Silk with 30 years’ experience assists considerably in his Health & Safety practice.

    Substantial concluded cases include:

    • Incident involving dangerous Pathogens
    • Death of employee on offshore platform
    • Death of child in rollercoaster accident at fairground
    • Death of railway worker during maintenance work
    • Multiple fatalities caused by collapse of port gangway
    • Fatal accident to lift engineer
    • Loss of radioactive isotope
    • Fatal accident to child in port warehouse
    • Diving supervisor prosecution arising out of diver's death in north sea
    • Death of diver at Canary Wharf
    • Dual fatality arising out of recreational diving accident
    • Construction fatality at Canary Wharf
    • Burns to elderly residents of care home due to inadequately insulated hot water pipes
    • Drowning of a child in holiday camp swimming pool
    • Asbestos exposure at major construction site
    • Electrocution of railway worker
    • Employee crushed in inadequately guarded machine
    • Asbestos exposure at school
    • Electrocution of restaurant employee
    • Suffocation in grain silo
    • Fatal roof fall on farm
    • Fatal roof fall in mail sorting office
    • Reversing articulated lorry causing fatal accident

    Other Health and Safety cases include:

    • Demolition
    • Construction
    • Agriculture
    • Factories accidents - including those involving plant and machinery
    • Electrocution
    • Railway accidents
    • Overhead power lines
    • Docks
    • Fairground accidents
    • Asbestos - faulty surveys and incidents involving exposure
    • Construction Design and Management Regulations
    • Diving accidents - (mixed gas commercial and air recreational)
    • Offshore installations
    • Schools
    • Nursing homes/hospitals
    • University containment laboratories
    • Government containment laboratories
    • Fork-lift truck and crane accidents
    • Scaffolding
    • Swimming pools
    • Mines and quarries
    • Legionella
    • Roadworks
    • Rigs and offshore installations
    • Appeals against prohibition and improvement notices
    • Advising on risk management issues/safety policies

Memberships and Associations


Awards and Scholarships

Cycling proficiency in 1968.