Department Maritime, Yachts & Superyachts Education (University) University of Wales, College of Cardiff
Rachel’s practice focuses on defendant personal injury litigation in which she is instructed by terminal operators, ship and super yacht owners and their liability insurers, as well as on behalf of brokers and underwriters.
Rachel specialises in accidents on board and catastrophic injury claims, together with asbestos-related disease and other occupational illnesses.
Rachel acts for owners and insurers of a broad spectrum of vessels including superyachts, tugs, supply vessels, tankers, container ships, ferries and cruise liners. She has been instructed on a number of high profile, sensitive cases involving catastrophic injuries including brain and spinal damage, as well as fatal claims. Rachel has particular expertise in protecting owner’s interests in cases where the injuries allegedly sustained are psychiatric/psychological in nature where, for example, there has been an incident or accident on board which has caused trauma to members of the crew. Often multiple and complex issues arise out of these incidents which can be overwhelming for an owner, so Rachel aims to quickly address and advise, provide assistance to and protect the owner as fully as possible. In light of her experience Rachel is also regularly asked to speak and write about those issues, for example in relation to crew mental health.
My matter highlights
- Advising shipowners on a full range of personal injury claims brought by crew and passengers in the UK and abroad, and dealing with insurance and coverage issues.
- Advising defendants and their P&I Club/Underwriters in catastrophic injury claims including brain and spinal, some worth between £1m to £6m; advising yacht owners on a multi-jurisdictional serious injury claim, advising on Damages Act security issues, liaising with Flag State, providing media management assistance, as well as identifying and liaising with key medical experts and specialist Counsel.
- Successfully defending owners and their liability insurer interests in several cases involving claims by seriously injured stevedore claimants (often via charterers), deflecting the claims to employer/charterers and advising on potential recourse against the charterers.
- Providing advice to owners and international terminal operators in cases involving fatalities.
- Advising superyacht owners in accidents involving guests and crew, considering issues of policy coverage and crew medical cover.
- Achieving successful outcomes in Joint Settlement Meetings and using experience to know when these should take place within the litigation. Recently advised ferry operators on a significant leg crush injury to a passenger where there was an element of functional overlay and chronic pain.
- Advising on instances of traumatic amputation injuries involving offshore and seismic vessels in which advice was provided to owners on the defence of the crew claims for damages.
- Regularly advising ferry and cruise operators on passenger claims for injury sustained in the UK and abroad, on the application of the Athens Convention, including food poisoning and norovirus claims.
- Successfully defending a substantial claim in damages against a ferry operator arising from a case of Legionnaires Disease, recovering costs against the claimant for the Club / owners.
- Acting for owners and their insurers in a case involving a serious injury to a child. Sensitively advising owners / Club on liability and limitation issues, liaising with the MAIB and providing initial media guidance. Use of specialist counsel, advising on complex medical evidence to assess quantum and establish rehabilitation requirements.
- Regularly advising on claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other anxiety and depressive disorders, including advising tug owners on their liabilities in a case involving crew injuries arising out of a capsize incident. Investigating and advising on circumstances leading to capsize, advising client on liability and quantum of potential PTSD claims and also on ‘rescuer’ issues of those involved in the aftermath. Advising clients on potential indemnities.
- Advising on cases of all forms of occupational environmental disease litigation, in particular: asbestos-related conditions including mesothelioma; back injuries; dermatitis; noise induced hearing loss (NIHL); Legionnaires Disease; norovirus; asthma; upper limb disorders; hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS); and chemical exposure claims (COSHH).
- Advising on cases involving chronic pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, somatic disorders and other related conditions.
My recent publications
News / Mutual benefit: A focus on superyacht crew welfare - Interview with SuperyachtNews
07-10-2021 / Maritime, Yachts & Superyachts
“I am regularly instructed on behalf of yacht owners and their liability underwriters to defend crew mental health claims made against them, a trend which had been increasing for several years now,” starts Rachel Butlin, partner at Ince. “Within the yacht industry, I have been involved in many cases in which there have been not just physical injuries to yacht crew but increasingly psychiatric ones, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders, as well as depression and the emotional consequences of bullying/assault.”
Insights / Shipping needs to prepare for the next pandemic
05-01-2021 / Maritime
"Captains and owners are making heroic attempts trying to get medevacs, but they are being refused due to Covid restrictions," Rachel Butlin said.
News / Bulletin 8: Crew welfare in times of pandemic
11-06-2020 / Yachts & Superyachts
As my colleagues have said in previous yacht bulletins, we are seeing the impact of the Covid-19 virus pandemic in all aspects of our lives. Seafarers / yacht crew have been, and continue to be, significantly affected, often feeling powerless and faced with months on board or in hotel rooms miles from home.