Jonathan Wheeler

Child Abuse

Head of department Jonathan Wheeler is singled out for acclaim for his handling of complex serious injury and abuse claims. Clients describe him as “very supportive” and an “expert in the field.” Chambers and Partners 2014

Bolt Burdon Kemp ‘punches above its weight’ on the personal injury side, and is ‘a growing force in serious cases’. It regularly handles brain injury and catastrophic claims, and has recently also acted in a number of sexual abuse claims. Head of department Jonathan Wheeler has ‘very good rapport with clients’Legal 500 2013

Jonathan leads the child abuse compensation team and has been a partner with the firm since 2003.

Jonathan became head of the personal injury group in 2005, a post he held until 2012. In 2006 he was named one of the ‘Hot 100’ lawyers of the year by The Lawyer magazine, recognising his campaigning work for survivors of child abuse, work which continues today. He is responsible for risk assessing all the personal injury and abuse claims handled by the firm.

In addition to his work at BBK, Jonathan is committed to the influential lobbying organisation the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). Having held the post of co-ordinator of APIL’s Child Abuse Special Interest Group for 2 years, he has been a member of their national executive since 2008, and became a Fellow of the organisation in 2009. He was elected Vice President in 2014, a term will hold for one year. Jonathan is also the treasurer of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and is a member of the Law Society Council and the editorial board of the Journal of Personal Injury Law. He trains other lawyers, both in-house and externally, and is regularly asked to provide comment on topical issues for the national media; among his claims to fame he lists being interviewed live on Channel 4 News, and being quoted on the front page of The Times.

Reported cases

Y v Wandsworth London Borough Council [2006] 1 WLR 2320 – established that a local authority is vicariously liable for the actions of one of its teachers abusing a child even where the abuse occurred off school premises (Court of Appeal).

A v Hoare & related appeals [2008] 1 AC 844 – landmark case which extended the time periods for bringing child abuse claims (House of Lords).

Pierce v Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council [2009] 1 FLR 1189 – first case where damages were awarded for a failure to retain a child in care by a local authority (Court of Appeal).

BJM v Eyre & others [2010] All ER (D) 139 (Nov) – substantial damages awarded in case where child abducted and sold into prostitution (High Court, Leeds).

Professional memberships

  • Vice President and Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
  • Law Society Council
  • Treasurer and Director of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers
  • Editorial Board member of the Journal of Personal Injury Law
  • The Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel (since 1997)
  • Human Rights Lawyers Association
  • Amnesty International
  • "I'd like to thank you very much for your help in getting my husband some recompense for the horrors that he's suffered. Your openness and honesty have enabled him to move forward with his life."

    Mrs Springham

  • "To Bolt Burdon Kemp, I would like to thank Jonathan Wheeler and his team for representing us in a professional, respectful and sensitive manner throughout our lengthy claim for compensation against a Local Authority which has finally been settled. We can now put closure to the trauma and move on emotionally."

    May James

  • "Hi Jonathan, Just a quick note to thank you and your team for all you have done over the time of this case.  The way you have conducted yourself,your expertise and compassion during what has been a difficult time for me and my family has been handled with extreme professionalism. I would certainly recommend you and your team to anyone who requires a…


  • "Jonathan Wheeler and David McClenaghan are consummate professionals, surrounded by a first rate team at Bolt Burdon Kemp. Every step of the process was explained, they responded to communications quickly and they were always understanding and considerate when discussing a particularly sensitive subject. Despite nearly 30 years passing since the original offences, their knowledge and specialist experience in the field…

    Anonymous Child Abuse Claim

  • "Please accept my many thanks for all your work in my case against Camden. I am still trying to get my head around it being actually, finally, over - at least as far as the law is concerned; the rest might still take some time. Onwards and upwards, or something like that. I really do appreciate all the time and…

    Ian Springham

  • "Thank you!! You have a way of putting people at their ease. When people are not too sure of themselves this helps 100%. Keep up the good work."

    Graham Webb