David Pittaway KC

Call: 1977 | Silk: 2000 |

David Pittaway KC is former Head of Chambers and was Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 2017. His principal practice areas are medical law, public inquiries, regulatory and disciplinary, product liability, personal injury, and insurance law.

An increasing part of his practice is in resolving disputes before proceedings are begun or before trial, sitting as an arbitrator, mediator, or evaluator. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an Accredited Mediator. He is also a Panel Member of Independent Evaluation; in which role he has been appointed to give a neutral evaluation in cases.

The main part of his practice is complex clinical negligence cases, where he is instructed on behalf of claimants, NHS bodies and medical defence societies. He has a particular interest in cases involving difficult issues of causation, where his skills in cross-examination of experts have been commented on in the main legal directories. Through his work in public inquiries, he has developed a discrete area of practice defending high profile clients in both the healthcare and non-healthcare sectors against reputational damage.

He has substantial experience of large-scale litigation arising out of his involvement in The Cervical Screening Litigation, The Shipman Inquiry, The Kingsway Hospital, Derby Inquest, The Capper Pass Claims Review Scheme, The Northwick Park Clinical Trials Litigation, The Stepping Hill Hospital Deaths, Ian Patterson Group Litigation and The Hillsborough Inquests.

He sits as a chair of the Bishops’ Disciplinary Tribunal and as an alternate to the President of Tribunals of the Church of England. He has given high-profile advice to senior members of the Church of England on disciplinary issues. He has advised medical and non-medical regulators on their procedures, ranging from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to the National Association of Funeral Directors. He has been instructed by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

He is ranked in the legal directories as a leading silk in medical law,  inquests and inquiries and in regulatory and professional discipline.

Following his official visits to South East Asia as Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 2017, he now accepts instructions from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Sri Lanka.

David is widely regarded as an outstanding silk in medical law, public inquiries and inquests, and regulatory and disciplinary matters. He is frequently instructed in high profile clinical negligence cases and to advise NHS trusts and medical defence organizations on sensitive decision-making and reputational damage.

He regularly gives generic advice to defendants on issues that arise in clinical negligence claims. He has substantial experience of large-scale litigation and is instructed in clinical negligence actions, both for claimants and defendants, involving catastrophic injuries, particularly birth injury, GP paediatric cases and spinal injuries.

He has considerable experience of being instructed in group actions, including actions involving issues of non-delegable duties of care and the vicarious liability of private healthcare providers. He has a particular interest in cases involving difficult issues of legal and medical causation. He is repeatedly instructed in large scale medical and personal injury litigation – The Cervical Screening Litigation, The Shipman Inquiry, The Kingsway Hospital, Derby Inquests, The Capper Pass Claims Review Scheme, The Northwick Park Clinical Trials Litigation, Ian Patterson Group Litigation and The Stepping Hill Hospital Deaths.

He is instructed in a large number of Joint Settlement Meetings, resulting in the compromise of high value clinical negligence claims. He has been instructed in high profile clinical negligence actions in Northern Ireland and has appeared in similar claims in Jersey and Gibraltar.

He is described in Chambers UK 2021 as “tactically and technically brilliant, and he’s very well respected in this area.”

David has developed an outstanding practice for healthcare and other regulators on the regulatory and disciplinary process. He advises regulators on changes to their disciplinary procedures and on their implementation. He has advised the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on its disciplinary procedures, including the implementation of a Legislative Reform Order, and the National Association of Funeral Directors on changes to its procedures. He was a leading member of the COIC Review of the Bar’s Disciplinary Tribunals and Implementation Group.

He has been appointed Chair of the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, and alternate to the President of Tribunals of the Church of England. He has prosecuted on behalf of the Solicitors Regulation Authority before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. He formerly prosecuted on behalf of the Bar Council’s Professional Conduct Committee.

He advises on a wide range of administrative law issues affecting the provision of healthcare in the UK and the role of the Court of Protection, particularly with regard to issues surrounding consent to treatment. He is described in the Legal 500 2017 as “Masterful in his advocacy and especially devastating in cross-examination.”

In Chambers UK 2022, they state “He brings with him a wealth of experience; he is so experienced that you feel in safe hands all the time.”

Following his appointment by Sir Philip Otton, Chairman of the Capper Pass Claims Review Scheme as the Assessor to the Scheme, he assessed the damages in over 40 fatal accident cases of lung cancer and COPD arising out of Rio Tinto’s operation of a smelting-plant on Humberside.

He regularly sits in the QBD trying a range of personal injury litigation, including employers’ liability and road traffic accident cases involving catastrophic injuries.

He has a particular interest in solicitors’ negligence arising out of the conduct of clinical negligence or personal injury litigation. In 2013, he was instructed by the Solicitors Indemnity Fund as the arbitrator in a case involving the historic under-settlement of a severe brain injury case.

David has substantial experience of large-scale inquiries through his involvement in The Cervical Screening Litigation, The Shipman Inquiry, The Kingsway Hospital, Derby Inquest, The Capper Pass Claims Review Scheme and The Hillsborough Inquests.

He was instructed in The Shipman Inquiry on behalf of other members of the medical profession. He was instructed on behalf of the mental health trust in The Kingsway Hospital, Derby Inquest before Sir Richard Rougier which inquired into the deaths of 26 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In 2011, he appeared at an inquest in Leicester on behalf of the hospital into the death of a patient who had undergone a new method of aortic valve replacement, which led to an application for judicial review in the Divisional Court and a subsequent appeal to the Court of Appeal.

In 2012, he advised a local authority on a complaint to the Office of Judicial Complaints regarding the removal of a Coroner. In 2013, he appeared at an inquest in Derby on behalf of a mental health trust where a patient had killed his former partner, their two-year-old child and then himself.

In 2015, he advised the Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport on its response following the conviction of a nurse for the murder/attempted murder of patients with insulin. In 2016, he appeared at an inquest in Derby on behalf of a mental health trust where a patient had committed suicide following his discharge from hospital.

Between 2014 and 2016, he was instructed in The Hillsborough Inquests acting for the solicitor who advised on the content of the South Yorkshire Police’s witness statements.

He was instructed on behalf of one of the insurers in the Northwick Park Hospital Clinical Trials Litigation to advise on coverage issues.

An increasing part of his practice is in resolving disputes before proceedings are begun or before trial, sitting as an arbitrator, mediator, or evaluator. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an Accredited Mediator. He is also a Panel Member of Independent Evaluation; in which role he has been appointed to give a neutral evaluation in cases.

David was not in full-time practice during his period of office as Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 2017. He returned to full-time practice in March 2018.

He appeared in two clinical negligence trials in 2019, AO v Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, where he successfully defended a case, where breach of duty was admitted, solely on causation, brought on behalf of a child who had suffered catastrophic injures following a tenfold overdose of a muscle relaxant, and PPX V Aulakh, where he also successfully defended a GP, on breach of duty and causation, brought on behalf of a severely brain-damaged adult who had attempted to hang himself, against his GP for failing to make a psychiatric referral.

He appeared in SRA v Gregory Shields and others [2017] – improper use of client account monies to fund business expansion, Khidir v Gateshead Health NHS FT and Dr Wise [2017] – alleged misdiagnosis of cauda equine syndrome. 

Hannah Cole v Dr Freed [2016] – trial on liability of issues relating to the diagnosis and treatment of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip. Inquest into the death of Andrew Small [2016] – three-week inquest into death of patient who had been discharged from mental health unit and committed suicide.

The Hillsborough Inquests [2014/6] – inquiry into the deaths of 96 football fans at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield on 15th April 1989.

Gabrielle Shaw v HM Coroner for Leicester [2014] [CA] – an appeal against the Divisional Court’s refusal to quash the verdict of jury arising out of death of patient who had undergone a new method of aortic valve replacement.

SRA v Barso [2013] [SDT] – the prosecution of a solicitor who had taken £2.3m in secret commission on ATE policies over an 18-month period.

“He brings with him a wealth of experience; he is so experienced that you feel in safe hands all the time.” Chambers UK, 2022

“Brilliant when it comes to strategy and tactics.” Chambers UK, 2022

“He is extremely approachable, immediately gets to the root of the issue in a case and understands the medicine extremely well.” Chambers UK, 2022

“Very good with and supportive of the client, and a superb strategist for the case. Excellent and very useful ability to work with the opponent and co-respondent counsel to good effect for the progress and outcome of the case, and very clear and structured in his advice.” Legal 500, 2022

“David is a thorough and dedicated barrister who provides an excellent service and helpful insights into likely trial outcomes which are informed by his own judicial experience.” Legal 500, 2022

“He cuts straight to the central issues in a case, no matter how complex. He is delightful to work with and he works collaboratively as part of a team.” Chambers UK, 2021

“David is tactically and technically brilliant, and he’s very well respected in this area.” Chambers UK, 2021

“His calm, intelligent and thorough approach was exactly right, as was his calm and considerate approach with the client. He carries natural authority and inspires confidence, which is bolstered by his excellent attention to detail and anticipation of the challenges of the case. His construction of the roadmap for the case was superb.” Legal 500, 2021

“Engenders respect in witnesses and experts alike and has a wealth of experience.” Legal 500, 2021

“An extremely experienced barrister with impressive knowledge of the law.” Chambers UK, 2020

“He is very charming, good with judges and a smooth performer.” Chambers UK, 2020

“Brings the gravitas and aptitude to a case that one would expect of someone of his call and standing. He is a great advocate and very persuasive on his feet. His skill in making clear submissions during complex matters is a real strength.” Chambers UK, 2020

“The go-to counsel for cases that require difficult strategic decision-making” Legal 500, 2020

“An excellent strategist who inspires confidence in clients” Legal 500, 2020

“A great communicator and strategist who is clear in the advice” Legal 500, 2020

“A very accomplished advocate. He is very good with clients and makes people feel at ease” Chambers UK 2019

“Tactically and technically brilliant” Chambers UK 2019 

“His precise and effective questioning helps enormously in achieving the clients’ objectives” Legal 500 2019

“He has a very authoritative, smooth manner with clients” Legal 500 2019

“A well-known, highly regarded character. He’s been doing this for years and he’s a very smooth, charming and persuasive advocate” Chambers UK 2018

“He is an excellent advocate who is very good at rising above the detail to see the wider picture” Legal 500 2019

“Very experienced and incredibly calm under pressure. Very personable and very organised” Chambers UK 2018

“Very experienced and an excellent tactician” “Masterful in his advocacy and especially devastating in cross-examination” “A skilled advocate and a constructive advisor” Legal 500 2017

“He’s got huge gravitas. A shrewd operator with a true mastery of tactics.” “David is forensic and comprehensive in his preparation and masterful in advocacy. He is especially devastating in cross-examination.” Chambers UK 2017

“He is forensic and comprehensive in his preparation, as well as masterful in his advocacy. He is especially devastating in cross examination.” Chambers UK 2016

“David is really good at getting to the nub of a case and finding something tucked away. He finds the key in the records that unlocks the case.” “David’s very analytical. He thinks deeply about the law and really descends into the detail.” Chambers UK 2016

“‘He gives very sensible, pragmatic advice.’” Legal 500 2015

“‘He has an amazing brain but is also able to relate well to clients.’” Legal 500 2015

“‘He is bright, warm and engaging, but underneath he is razor-sharp and masterful in negotiations.’” Legal 500 2015

“He is user-friendly and he’s very sensible.’ What we like about him is that he is pragmatic and doesn’t over-intellectualise cases’.” Chambers UK 2015

“Persuasive and bold.” Legal 500 2014

“Widely respected for his clinical negligence work as part of a broader practice that takes in public inquiries, regulatory and disciplinary matters.” Chambers UK 2014

“A leading figure in medical and veterinary professional discipline cases, providing advice to key regulators and representing professionals in high-profile matters.” Chambers UK 2014

Education
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (MA) (Exhibitioner), FCIArb

Appointments

  • Treasurer of the Inner Temple (2017)
  • Trustee of the Inner Temple
  • Deputy High Court Judge (QBD/Admin)
  • Recorder (Midland Circuit)
  • Chancellor of the Diocese of Peterborough
  • Chair of the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal, CofE
  • Called to the Bar of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland
  • Fellow of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators/Accredited Mediator
  • International Referee – Journal of the Malaysian Judiciary

Committees

  • Member of Executive Committee of the British Malaysian Society
  • Member of Council, Cheltenham Ladies College
  • Past Trustee of the Council of the Inns of Court
  • Past Member of the Bar Council’s General Management Committee
  • Past Chairman of the Bar Council’s Training for the Bar Committee
  • Past Chairman of the Neuberger Monitoring and Implementation Group
  • Past Chairman of the Professional Negligence Bar Association

Publications & lectures

  • He is co-contributor to Atkins Court Forms: Personal injury [2014] and Professional Negligence [2013], and National Health Service [2014], and Carriers [2010]
  • He contributed to Law and Ethics in Intensive Care [2010]
  • He was Co-General Editor of Pittaway and Hammerton “Professional Negligence Cases”, Butterworths (July 1998)
  • He is named as the leading contributor to the Inns of Court School of Law Advanced Civil Litigation – Professional Negligence in Practice published by Blackstone Press
  • He has lectured widely in the UK, Singapore. Malaysia and Australia, most recently on the Anatomy of a Clinical Negligence Action, Non-Delegable Duties of Care, Secondary Victim Claims and Early Evaluation of Claims

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