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7 June 2024 | Firm News | Article by Stephen Webber

Hugh Potter receives top award as he calls time on his career

Huge congratulations to much-deserved winner of the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the Manchester Legal Awards 2024, Hugh Potter.

The prestigious award was voted for by the Manchester Law Society Council and recognises Hugh’s outstanding contribution to the legal profession and the Manchester legal scene.

The honour comes as Hugh steps down from an illustrious 35-year career steering the leading personal injury, court of protection and clinical negligence firm Potter Rees Dolan along with Helen Dolan until it became part of National firm Hugh James in October 2022.

Hugh Potter at the Manchester Legal Awards 2024 holding his Lifetime Achievement Award

Accepting the award in the company of leading lawyers from across Manchester at a glittering event at The Midland Hotel on last night (Thursday 6th June), Hugh paid tribute to those who had inspired his career and supported the growth of the Manchester office which he explained “grew from just me and my PA Barbara in a single cramped office to the 70 something strong office we now are.”

He said:

“It is a great honour to have been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and for which I am most proud. It reflects the outstanding work of many people over many years at Potter Rees Dolan.”

Hugh namechecked many of his former PRD colleagues during his acceptance speech, including co-partner Helen Dolan, and thanked Hugh James for their partnership which ensures “long term prosperity” for the Manchester office and the 70-strong employees.

Head of Individual Client Services, Steve Webber said:

“Hugh is an exceptional lawyer, held in high esteem for his contribution to complex injury law and his dedication to helping those with life-changing injuries, and so he’s a much-deserved winner of the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“As he steps down after 35 years, it is entirely fittingly that Hugh is honoured for his contribution to the legal profession in the company of Manchester’s legal community, symbolising his legacy as a leading professional among his colleagues and his clients. It’s been a pleasure to celebrate with Hugh at the event, and, on behalf of everyone at Hugh James, we extend our heartfelt thanks for his contribution to the firm and congratulations on receiving this award.

“Our Manchester office is in great shape for the future thanks in no small part to the contribution of Hugh. Together, we’ve enjoyed success in the 2023 UK legal directories and Personal Injury Awards. We’ve boosted opportunities for our employees, with the introduction of training contracts and we’re creating greater links within the local community and with local charities. I want to thank Hugh for his dedication and all his efforts in making this happen and wish him a healthy and happy retirement.”

Looking back at Hugh Potter’s career

Hugh graduated from Nottingham University in 1985 where he developed an interest in helping people with serious injuries whilst working as a nurse at a neurological hospital. His desire to help seriously injured people led him to successfully represent his first brain-injured client, a cyclist, in 1986.

In 1990, Hugh achieved partnership at Pannone Napier, acting for Manchester Air Crash survivors, pursuing the Haemophilia HIV Positive Group action against the government, and investigating, as a Steering Committee Member, the sinking of Jupiter in 1988, involving hundreds of British schoolchildren and their teachers.

Having joined Perkins and Co in 1994, Hugh then established his own niche, pioneering catastrophic brain and spinal injury practice, ‘Hugh Potter & Company’ in May 1998. The firm quickly expanded, becoming ‘Potter Rees Serious Injury Solicitors’ in 2004, then ‘Potter Rees Dolan’ in 2014.

Managing partner for 25 years, Hugh maintained the role of Head of Serious Injury and Joint Head of the Manchester Office at Hugh James, when PRD was acquired in 2022. The office now employs 75+ staff, including 30+ top-class solicitors, also recognised as leaders in their fields.

Landmark cases

Hugh specialises in complex and difficult cases. In 2007, he secured the highest ever compensation award for a personal injury claim in English Law, with an out-of-court settlement of £16 million.

In 2010, Hugh acted for a young brain injury survivor injured in an RTA. The landmark case, Wilkinson v Churchill Insurance (2010) was pursued successfully to the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Justice resulting in substantial compensation and an effective rewriting of the Road Traffic Act to benefit future Claimants. It was subsequently decided that s151(8) of the Act could not be a blanket defence in respect of an injured insured and the issue of blameworthiness should be determined according to the circumstances of each case.

Hugh recovered substantial additional compensation for a brain injured client, injured as a child. He brought her original claim in 1997 against the Motor Insurance Bureau where she sustained a very severe brain injury by an uninsured motocross bike rider on the pavement. The claim was compromised 50/50 because of the restrictive wording within the Road Traffic Act which then applied to such accidents. Twenty years later and, following the landmark decision of the European Court in Vnuk, Hugh successfully sued the Government for the ‘missing’ 50%.

Added contributions

Hugh’s many achievements and positions include:

  • Fellow and Accredited Brain Injury Specialist of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
  • Headway Solicitor Panel Member
  • Headway volunteer for 20+ years
  • Supporter of BASIC (Brain and Spinal Injury Centre)
  • Vice Chair and Secretary of the Forum of Complex Injury Solicitors (FOCIS), a group of distinguished solicitors involved in analysing legal changes and their ramifications. He is an inaugural Committee Member and co-author of several consultation responses including Guideline Hourly Rates, Vulnerable Witnesses, Litigants without Mental Capacity and the Highway Code.
  • Manchester Kings Bench Users Committee member under HHJ Bird (since 2017)
  • Ranked in Chambers Legal Guide for 27 years

Author bio

Stephen Webber


Steve is head of one of the two divisions at Hugh James. This division comprises all of the teams which advise private individuals; both claimant litigants and individuals requiring advice on their personal finances and family. Steve specialises in high value medical negligence cases including cerebral palsy, spinal injuries, brain injury, psychiatric, obstetric cases and issues relating to human rights.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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