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I specialise in international air accident litigation. I was a professionally qualified military pilot prior to becoming an aviation lawyer, so I have over 22 years of experience in aviation and litigation. This gives my clients, the victims of air accidents, a distinct advantage in this very complicated area of technology and law.
Jim Morris has "vast aviation expertise" - Legal 500 2015
A "real aviation specialist" - Legal 500 2014
Has "complete command over his cases", and is "a real intellect" - Legal 500 2013
'a "total professional" who adds value to his legal skills with his background as a former military pilot' - Chambers & Partners 2015
"Jim Morris is highly esteemed and very talented. He was a pilot in the RAF for many years before transferring to be a lawyer, and has extremely good instincts." - Chambers & Partners 2014
My flying career started with the Royal Air Force in 1990. I qualified on a number of military aircraft (single piston, single turbo prop, fast jet, twin turbo prop, heavy jet) and my last flying tour was on the Boeing E-3D AWACS. I also received specialist training in aviation accident analysis and crew resource management, to become a Squadron Flight Safety Officer.
In 2002, I transferred to the RAF Legal Branch and qualified as a barrister. As trial counsel, I prosecuted many Court Martial jury trials, with a focus on trials involving military aviation litigation.
In 2008, I retired from the RAF so that I could specialise in representing the victims of aviation disasters. I have represented hundreds of passengers/families in many aviation disasters worldwide, involving light aircraft, business jets, helicopters and airliners.
In a significant number of my cases, I have been able to identify a product defect as one of the causes, which has resulted in US product liability litigation.
As a barrister, I also represent the families of aviation disasters at inquests.
I have always been interested in the Law (hence law was my first degree in the late 1980s), however my passion for flying prevailed so I joined the RAF.
It was my exposure to the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy that inspired me to become an aviation lawyer. On that day, I was flying the RAF AWACS that was tasked to provide radar coverage off the West of Scotland to identify the terrorist controlled airliners that were believed to be crossing the Atlantic. Thankfully, nothing did cross the Atlantic that night.
Following this tragedy, I decided to become an aviation lawyer, where I can use my legal and aviation skills to help the victims and families of aviation disasters.
It is tremendously rewarding to be able to use the professional aviation experience that I acquired during my years of military service to help my clients. I advise them in detail on the aircraft, the systems, the pilot(s) actions, the accident and the applicable laws so that they are best placed to deal with the technical and legal minefields that follow in the aftermath of air disasters.
Helping them to face this challenge, find answers and hold those responsible to account is a real privilege for me.
Irwin Mitchell is the leading claimant aviation law firm in Europe and the team has an unrivalled level of international litigation experience as well as technical and legal skills.
This enables us to provide the highest quality service and achieve outstanding results for our clients. It is great to be part of such a high calibre aviation team.
DIY on a very old house
“The reports so far concerning this latest tragic incident involving a Super Puma EC225 indicate an extreme situation arising from a technical fault from which it appears there was little or no chance of survival.
“Of course, we await the final report from the AAIB that will determine the full chain of events that led to this crash, but it is extremely alarming that this model of helicopter has been involved in another very serious accident while transporting oil rig worker following two other serious incidents in recent years.
“Oil rig personnel work in very harsh environments and deserve the highest standards of helicopter safety when being transported to and from work. In this day and age it is unacceptable for a sophisticated twin engine helicopter to suffer a catastrophic problem from which it is not able to land safely.
“In addition to the air accident investigation there should be a thorough and transparent review by the authorities into the safety of helicopters and how they are operated in the North Sea to ensure that safety standards are as high as is reasonably possible.”
“Any accident such as this is bound to result in major changes to improve safety in future. This was the first major incident involving public fatalities at an airshow for 60 years.
“It has been a big wake-up call and many potential areas of improvement to safety guidelines were highlighted by the tragic events last August.
“The new rules cover the distance the crowd can stand from the display, increased minimum altitudes for manoeuvres, strengthening the competency requirements for pilots and the reporting for event organisers.
“It is now important that this final report from the CAA is not be the last step and that a continuous programme of monitoring and refinement takes place to ensure the new guidance achieves what it is setting out to do.
“Although no one wants to dampen the enjoyment that many people derive from airshows, it’s quite clear that the regulations for organisers looking to put on a display had to be improved to reduce the risk of similar issues in future.”
“This is likely to be a lengthy and complicated inquest and crucially it gives families the opportunity to put questions, themselves or through their legal representatives, to key witnesses involved in the tragedy and the investigation. We hope the inquest process will pull all relevant evidence together and provide a complete and detailed picture of the full chain of events that led to this this terrible disaster.
“We have heard from the AAIB’s recent Special Bulletin how the safety of air shows can be improved. The recommendations are welcomed but it is a matter of deep regret that it has taken the terrible loss of life at Shoreham before these recommendations, many of which are common sense, have been made.”
"The families want to understand the entirety of the safety precautions undertaken prior to the doomed flight of the Hawker Hunter aircraft at Shoreham on 22nd August, 2015. They also want to know exactly what improvements will be implemented by the authorities, so that they and the general public can be confident in the safety of future air shows.
“From the three Special Bulletin that have been published so far there are clear learning points from what happened at Shoreham which the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) must take into account. It is crucial that the safety recommendations are implemented into its policies and guidance as soon as possible.”
“It is very concerning that the pilot had such a serious mental condition from December 2014 to date of accident yet the treating doctors and psychiatrists did not notify Lufthansa or the authorities due to fear of the German rules on patient confidentiality. Clearly the rules need to be changed. We need clear and consistent guidelines in Europe and internationally on where the threat to public safety outweighs medical confidentiality for pilots – so the BEA safety recommendations are welcomed.
“But it is concerning that the report indicates that extensive psychiatric evaluation of all pilots as part of routine medical assessments would not be productive or cost effective. Although the report says that it would be effective for pilots with an identified history of mental illness, there is still the worry that in the absence of extensive psychiatric screening for all pilots, there is a risk that a pilot who conceals a mental illness could still slip through the net.
“We are very disappointed that The BEA report does not include a more detailed analysis of the pilots flying training in Arizona for Lufthansa. In July 2009 Lufthansa knew of the medical problems and refused renewal of the pilot's medical. In June 2010 Lufthansa applied to the FAA for a US 3rd class medical but this was refused by the FAA. The FAA wanted to see a report from the pilots physician. In July 2010 the FAA issued a medical certificate but stated that the pilot should be prohibited from flying if he displayed and symptoms or adverse changes. From November 2010 – March 2011 the pilot did his flying training in Arizona which should have been a crucial opportunity for identification of any problems and how he performed under pressure. With the FAA restriction and knowledge of his previous mental issues, the staff of the flight training center should have been closely monitoring him and should have stopped him from flying if he demonstrated any concerns.
“It is very disappointing that the BEA report does not analyse in detail why the Arizona flight training school passed him. This was a golden opportunity to identify any problems and prevent him from passing the flying course."