"Mark really is a tactical genius and not afraid of hard graft in order to provide the best possible advice and representation to a client."

― Legal 500 [2022]
Mark Watson QC
Call: 1994 | QC: 2018

Mark Watson QC is a barrister specialising in the full range of regulatory law spanning the following fields:

  • Health & safety law – including criminal proceedings, civil enforcement and inquiries & inquests
  • Fire safety law
  • Maritime regulatory law
  • Environmental and planning law
  • Food safety law
  • Trading standards and consumer law
  • Other regulatory law
Leading Individual

Health & safety

Mark Watson has specialised in health & safety law for more than ten years, and has represented clients in numerous fatal accident cases. Prior to taking silk in 2018 he was on the Regulatory List “A” Panel and was regularly instructed to prosecute in the most serious health and safety offences.

He has a broad range of experience of criminal enforcement up to and including at appellate level and has expertise both in the field of civil enforcement in relation to appeals against prohibition and improvement notices before employment tribunals and in judicial review proceedings relating to specialist regulatory regimes.

Mark is regularly instructed to inquests on behalf interested parties relating to a broad range of industry sectors and processes, including: a large scale explosion at a plastic manufacturing plant; fatal accidents on the rail network and London Underground system; various fatal workplace transport accidents; fatal accidents which occur in the health sector and in care homes; and a fatal accident during the filming of medieval battle scene for a television documentary.

Other specific examples of experience include:

  • Representing a construction company in a double corporate manslaughter trial at the Central Criminal Court.
  • Acting for an adventure park operating company and director in criminal proceedings arising from the death of child on a zip wire.
  • Represented three joint venture construction companies (Alstom/Carillion/TSO) at the inquest concerning the explosion of a locomotive and consequent double fatality during the construction of the Thames HS1 Tunnel. Subsequent to the inquest, the HSE decided not to prosecute any of the construction companies.
  • Representing driver of a locomotive train in a serious near-miss SPAD incident in circumstances where the train protection system had been disabled.
  • Instructed to defend a veterinary practice in a prosecution by HSE concerning the preparation of oncology drugs .
  • Junior defence counsel in R v Beckingham (the Barrow-in-Furness legionnaires’ disease outbreak in which the defendant was acquitted of all seven counts of gross negligence manslaughter).
  • Junior defence counsel in the corporate manslaughter trial R v Naturediet at the Central Criminal Court (corporate defendant acquitted of manslaughter).
  • He is regularly instructed to prosecute on behalf of the HSE, the ORR and local authorities in a full range of fatal accident cases, including: various cases involving child fatalities; serious railway maintenance incidents; construction site fatalities; agricultural/horticultural accidents; falls from heights; fairground and recreational accidents; defective machinery and asbestos etc.
  • Defence clients include major supermarket chains, construction, manufacturing, food, transport and property management companies.

Fire safety

Mark has a long-standing expertise in fire safety matters. He is currently instructed to provide advice and representation to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in relation to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, but he has been instructed in numerous serious fire safety cases:

  • Instructed to defend in several cases involving fires in care homes.
  • Defended the managing company of a block of flats in criminal proceedings where compartmentation failed and the prosecution challenged the adequacy of the stay put policy.
  • Successfully defended the headmaster of a private boarding school in relation to the alleged breaches of the Fire Safety Order as a result of the condition of children’s sleeping accommodation in school premises.
  • Acted for a major hotel group in the first successful challenge to a regulator by way of a reference to the Secretary of State under Article 36 of the Fire Safety Order.
  • Represented another major hotel group in relation to a prosecution following a fire and full-scale evacuation at a large airport hotel.
  • Represented a large London-based managing agent with regard to alleged breaches of the Fire Safety Order at one of its managed properties.
  • Acted for a major High Street retailer with regard to breaches of the Fire Safety Order.

Maritime safety & regulation

Mark has appeared in numerous maritime regulatory cases, involving offences contrary to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and associated regulations; he has a good working knowledge of safety related international maritime law together with UK and EU fisheries legislation. Specific cases include:

  • The first successful prosecution, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, of a UK managing agent in relation to an unsafe Anglo-Spanish trawler, following a severe fire aboard the vessel off the north west coast of Ireland.
  • The prosecution, on behalf of the Port of London authority, of the master of a Thames barge which struck Battersea Road Bridge causing significant damage and closure of the bridge for months.
  • Advised the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in relation to a fatality which occurred on board a vessel in British territorial waters.
  • Provided disclosure advice in relation to the Sea Empress disaster on behalf of the Environment Agency.

Environmental, Planning and Abatement Notice appeals

Mark Watson represents both regulators and companies in relation to a broad range of planning and environmental matters. He has extensive experience of pollution cases over many years, having been instructed on behalf of the Environment Agency in relation to the Sea Empress disaster and having been instructed in numerous of the most serious and complex waste and water pollution cases since that time. He has particular expertise in relation to confiscation proceedings in environmental and planning cases, and especially in relation to company directors. In respect of appeals against noise abatement notices, Mark has successfully acted on behalf of numerous organisations, including major supermarkets and large recycling companies.

  • Successfully defended business operator of incinerator (at trial and on appeal) in relation to alleged breaches of an abatement notice.
  • • Successfully secured quashing of abatement notice in relation to noise emanating from well-known London music venue.
  • Successfully defended director of waste company is multi-million pound Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings involving alleged disposal of 70,000 tonnes of waste.
  • Successful prosecution of large waste company in relation to unlawful handling of large quantities of hazardous waste at one of the largest transfer stations in London.
  • Prosecutes and defends in broad range of waste and water pollution cases, including cases involving hazardous waste, waste exemptions and breaches of permit conditions. Has been instructed in a number of cases involving confiscation proceedings in waste cases, including R v Holbrook Ltd.
  • Junior prosecution counsel in Environment Agency v Thames Water Utilities Ltd [2013] EWHC 472 (Admin) securing successful outcome in relation to the legal definition of ‘deposit’ and subsequent appeal against sentence.
  • Successfully defended landowner and waste haulage company at trial on basis of applicability of Non-Waste Framework Directive exemptions.
  • Successful prosecution of major water company following Category 1 river pollution incident arising from telemetry response failure.
  • Instructed by local authorities to prosecute cases of breach of planning control, enforcement notices, listed building cases, advertising related matters, statutory nuisance and untidy sites.
  • Instructed to represent a number of large scale metal recycling companies in relation to statutory nuisance proceedings.
  • Has advised and appeared on behalf of local planning authorities at local plan inquiries.
  • Has appeared on behalf of local authorities in numerous other planning inquiries including: large scale residential development, retail development, residential care homes, conference centres, listed buildings and conservation areas, Green Belt and countryside issues, agriculture and horticultural related development and cases involving gypsies/travellers.
  • Advising in relation to Proceeds of Crime Act issues arising from environmental/planning offences.
  • Has particular experience in relation to enforcement matters (including appeals against enforcement notices, listed buildings and human rights issues) and the use of injunctions (particularly in relation to gypsy/traveller cases and listed buildings).

Hygiene and food safety

Mark Watson’s expertise in relation to food safety law has been recognised by the industry with his recent award of an honorary fellowship of the Society of Food Hygiene & Technology. Mark has appeared in many food safety cases, including the defence of numerous large and small-scale food businesses, together with directors and managers of such businesses. Examples include:

  • Successfully prosecuted a test case for the FSA (conviction upheld on appeal) regarding the display of meat at Smithfield Market, relying on the expert evidence of Professor Hugh Pennington.
  • Successfully defended of the Production Manager within a multi-national food production company.
  • Instructed by the FSA in relation to enforcement action against the sale of raw unpasteurised milk from vending machines.
  • Successfully prosecuted of a large hotel group following significant food poisoning outbreak arising from undercooked chicken liver parfait.
  • Represented a local authority in proceedings relating to a large scale salmonella outbreak arising from food premises at a Blue Water shopping centre in Kent.
  • He is regularly instructed to appear on behalf of large food/drink companies and supermarket chains, including numerous cases of a high profile nature featuring in the national press.

Trading standards & consumer law

Mark Watson has acted in numerous cases relating to mis-selling, trade descriptions, trademarks, prices etc.
He has advised OFGEM in relation to enforcement action against a major utility company in relation to allegations of widespread mis-selling which resulted in a multi-million pound settlement.

Mark has recently been instructed to mitigate in a case involving a multi-million pound penalty imposed by the Gambling Commission, securing a very significant reduction in the proposed financial penalty.

Mark also has extensive expertise in relation to non-criminal enforcement in consumer cases including several cases concerning enforcement under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002.

Other regulatory

He regularly advises in relation to disclosure matters arising from regulatory work, particularly with regard to requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations.

Recommendations

"Mark really is a tactical genius and not afraid of hard graft in order to provide the best possible advice and representation to a client."

― Legal 500 [2022]

Chambers & Partners Health & Safety Junior of the Year 2015

― Chambers UK Bar Awards

"Mark Watson is absolutely first-class both as an advocate and as a lawyer." (Health and Safety)

"An absolutely outstanding advocate with an enormous brain. He has the ability to break down the most complicated of cases into something manageable and client-friendly." (Consumer Law)

"A very strong environmental specialist who has deservedly been appointed Queen's Counsel in the latest round. He is great with clients and hard-working." (Environmental Law)

― Chambers & Partners UK Bar Guide [2018]

"His mix of prosecution and defence work makes him best-equipped to spot all the angles of a case." (Health and Safety)

"Always impressive, he is an excellent advocate and extremely personable." (Inquests and Inquiries)

― Legal 500 [2018]

"A leading authority in the health and safety market, who is renowned for his extensive capabilities across the full range of health and safety law."

― Chambers & Partners UK Bar Guide [2017]

"His advocacy skills and strategic planning set him apart from his contemporaries."

"An impressive strategist and compelling advocate, who knows the area inside-out."

― Legal 500 [2017]

"He has total recall; a phenomenal capacity to remember minute detail and use in court."

"An outstanding advocate who is at the cutting edge of legal developments."

"You always know that a client is in safe hands when he has been instructed."

― Legal 500 [2015]

"Ten out of ten on client service. He is extremely intelligent, a good advocate and offers the complete package. If ever there is a scientific or technical problem, he just gets it."

"He has a measured style of litigation, commands respect with the jury and has the judge's respect too."

― Chambers & Partners UK Bar Guide [2013]

“The ‘phenomenal’ Mark Watson instils ‘complete confidence’, and acts for both the prosecution and defence in regulatory cases.”

― Legal 500 [2012]

“Anything he doesn’t know about the law in this field is probably not worth knowing”… “an amazing ability to get inside the technical aspects of cases …”

― Chambers & Partners UK Bar Guide [2012]
Leading Individual

Appointments

Honorary Fellow of the Society of Food Technology and Hygiene (2012)

Education

BA (Oxon)

Latest news

11th May 2022

Six Pump Court barristers ranked in Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2022

Members of Chambers have been recognised in the new 2022 edition of Who’s Who Legal (WWL) UK Bar rankings.

27th March 2020

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020

Mark Watson QC and Mark Davies consider the new Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and the impact on businesses.

25th March 2019

Gambling Commission fine reduced by millions

Mark Watson QC and Stuart Jessop instructed by Pinsent Masons successfully assisted a very large gambling company in substantially reducing initial fine imposed by the Gambling Commission.

5th March 2019

Stephen Hockman QC and Mark Watson QC succeed in appeal against sentence in asbestos exposure case

Stephen Hockman QC and Mark Watson QC have been successful in an appeal against a sentence in a case concerning exposure to asbestos.

26th October 2018

Six Pump Court wins Health & Safety Set of the Year at Chambers UK Bar Awards

Last night at the Chambers UK Bar Awards, Six Pump Court was delighted to be named as the Health & Safety Set of the Year.

25th May 2018

Regulatory Law Conference 2018 (Birmingham)

Six Pump Court will present a Regulatory Law Conference on 13th July in Birmingham.

21st December 2017

Mark Watson to be appointed Queen’s Counsel

Chambers is delighted to announce that Mark Watson is to be appointed Queen’s Counsel.

10th July 2017

David Travers QC led Mark Watson in the defence of Martinisation London Ltd at Old Bailey 

David Travers QC and Mark Watson represented Martinisation London Limited after the company was accused of corporate manslaughter and associated health and safety offences.

10th January 2017

Network Rail fined £800,000 in prosecution brought by ORR

Network Rail has today been fined £800,000 in a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) following a serious incident on...

18th July 2016

Members act in West Coast Railway safety failings case

In a case brought by the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), West Coast Railway Company Limited and one of their steam train drivers...

14th July 2016

Stunt boss pleads guilty to health and safety offences

A stunt boss represented by Tanya Robinson and prosecuted by Mark Watson has pleaded guilty to health and safety offences.  For press coverage of the...

15th April 2016

Mark Watson instructed on behalf of Environment Agency in waste cases involving “record fine”

A company was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling more than £1.2 million in relation to two separate prosecutions by the Environment Agency...

1st April 2016

Six Pump Court Barristers listed in Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2016

Six Pump Court barristers Stephen Hockman QC, Mark Harris and Mark Watson have each been included in the Who's Who Legal UK Bar 2016...

19th February 2016

Mark Watson secures withdrawal of £3m confiscation application against company director in waste case

Mark Watson, representing the director of a waste company, has secured the withdrawal of one of the largest confiscation applications ever made by the...

3rd November 2015

Mark Watson wins Health & Safety Junior of the Year at Chambers UK Bar Awards

Chambers congratulates Mark Watson on winning Health & Safety Junior of the Year at the 2015 Chambers UK Bar Awards. Mark Watson received the...

18th September 2015

Six Pump Court barristers shortlisted for awards in Chambers UK Bar Awards 2015

Six Pump Court Chambers barristers, Eleanor Laws QC, Mark Watson and Christopher Badger have been shortlisted for awards in Chambers UK Bar Awards. The...

10th September 2015

Six Pump Court and UKELA present a seminar on Criminal Enforcement by Regulators

Six Pump Court presents the second in our series of environmental law seminars to be held this year. This forthcoming seminar is being held...

29th April 2015

Food Standards Agency: Food Safety Witness Training Seminar

Mark Watson and Stuart Jessop attended the Food Standard Agency’s Witness Familiarisation Programme on 25th March. As part of the Programme, they trained staff...

4th March 2015

Mark Watson to present UKELA Environmental Offences seminar

Mark Watson of Six Pump Court is to provide an update on Environmental Offences, Sentencing Guidelines and the Proceeds of Crime at a forthcoming...

3rd March 2015

Six Pump Court barristers recognised in Who’s Who Legal 2015

Six Pump Court’s environmental law barristers have been recognised in the latest Who’s Who Legal which provides an analysis of the leading barristers and...

20th January 2015

Six Pump Court Regulatory Team barristers act in human cannonball inquest

Mark Watson, Emmaline Lambert and Tanya Robinson are appearing at an inquest into the death of Matthew Cranch, who died whilst acting as a...

9th January 2015

Current Trends in Penalties for Environmental Crime

Mark Watson is to speak at a forthcoming UKELA meeting entitled 'Current Trends in Penalties for Environmental Crime' to be held on 14th January....

11th December 2014

Mark Watson prosecutes in fatal maritime accident

Mark Watson is prosecuting in a case involving the death of a woman caused by the collision at sea of a yacht with a...

5th October 2014

David Travers QC and Mark Watson awarded honorary fellowships of the Society of Food and Hygiene and Technology

On 22 November 2012 David Travers QC and Mark Watson were awarded honorary fellowships of the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT) at the Society's annual lunch at...

5th October 2014

Mark Watson successfully represents Maritime & Coastguard Agency

At Southampton Crown Court on 27 November 2012 Mark Watson successfully represented the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in the first successful prosecution of a UK-based management...

5th October 2014

Mark Harris and Mark Watson have successfully represented the Environment Agency in a test case brought by Thames Water Utilities regarding escapes of sewage onto land

In Thames Water Utilities Ltd v Environment Agency [2013] EWHC 472 (Admin) Mark Harris and Mark Watson have successfully represented the Environment Agency in a test case brought...

5th October 2014

Mark Watson successfully prosecutes company responsible for major pollution incident

Mark Watson, on behalf of the Environment Agency, has successfully prosecuted one of Europe's leading chemical companies for a pesticide pollution of the River...

4th October 2014

Six Pump Court shortlisted in forthcoming Chambers Bar Awards with two nominations

Six Pump Court Chambers has received two nominations in the forthcoming Chambers Bar Awards 2013. Chambers has been shortlisted as Health & Safety Law Set of...

4th October 2014

Mark Harris and Mark Watson represent Environment Agency in an appeal by Thames Water against sentence

Mark Harris and Mark Watson have successfully represented the Environment Agency in an long running prosecution of Thames Water following a flooding incident in south London in...

4th October 2014

Six Pump Court barristers nominated in Chambers 100 UK Bar

Mark Harris and Mark Watson have been nominated for inclusion into the Chambers 100 UK Bar. The Chambers UK Bar ranks the top barristers in the UK...

Contact my clerks

Ryan Barrow

Ryan Barrow

First Junior Clerk
Michael Hearn

Michael Hearn

Second Junior Clerk