David Knifton KC

Call 1986
Silk 2018


"David is extremely bright and his ability to grasp complex matters is second-to-none. He is the best there is, he has excellent communication skills, and he is able to express himself very clearly."

The Legal 500 2024
Photo of David Knifton KC

Clinical Negligence

David practises exclusively in high-value personal injury and clinical negligence cases on behalf of claimants. He is recommended as a leader in those fields by both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500, and was shortlisted by the latter as PI Silk of the Year in 2023. He will generally only accept new instructions in cases with a value in excess of £1m, and consistently achieves settlements each year totalling £20m-30m.

David has extensive experience of high-value clinical negligence claims, including:

  • Wrongful birth
  • Obstetric injuries, including cerebral palsy
  • Failures/delays in diagnosis (particularly in cancer cases)
  • Consent issues
  • Negligent treatment
  • Claims against alternative medical practitioners

Described by a partner at a leading clinical negligence firm as “a joy to instruct”, he wins widespread praise for his thorough preparation, sensitive client-handling, up to the minute legal knowledge, and excellent negotiation and advocacy skills. Chambers & Partners describes him as “very talented and highly impressive for his attention to detail”, noting that he has “excellent interpersonal skills and a great ability to put clients at ease”, whilst being able to “grapple with complex cases with apparent ease and confidence.”  The Legal 500 says he is “an excellent barrister who is always prepared for a fight. He is a great advocate who has the confidence to cross-examine and also to challenge defendants on difficult points, and he is the first port of call for a difficult case.”

Clinical Negligence Cases

D v Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust (2024): Challenging obstetric negligence claim, where failure to expedite delivery by caesarean section after ante-partum haemorrhage led to hypoxic injury resulting in severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Despite breach of duty and causation remaining firmly in dispute, David skilfully negotiated liability settlement terms at a JSM in 2024 which will guarantee the recovery of substantial damages to meet the child’s lifetime needs

D v St Helens & Knowsley NHS Trust (2024): Challenging clinical negligence claim, involving an alleged failure by consultant paediatrician to refer a patient with a complex vascular formation to a specialist unit, and by GP to action a request for a thoracic CT scan, leading to tumour progression and permanent spinal cord injury. Listed for trial in 2024

W v Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust (2023): Negligent delay in diagnosing and treating spinal epidural abscess in 63 year-old woman, leading to incomplete spinal cord injury and paraplegia. Despite an initial refusal from the Trust to agree provisional damages for the risk of a syrinx, David negotiated damages of £4.85m on a provisional damages basis, including over £2.5m to fund her lifetime care costs.

B v Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust (2023): Extremely challenging claim involving failure to investigate and treat significant falls in blood pressure in diabetic woman with end-stage renal failure, allegedly leading to incomplete spinal cord injury after spinal stroke. David’s meticulous analysis of the extensive expert evidence, focusing on breach of duty and material contribution, enabled him to negotiate a compromise of over £500,000

S v South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust (2023): Complex claim involving a delay in detecting swelling of the optic nerve in a young child, due to pancraniosynostosis, resulting in blindness and alleged brain damage. Breach of duty has been admitted, but causation remains under investigation

C v Bolton NHS Foundation Trust (2022): Obstetric negligence case, in which the disclosure of mobile phone video footage of the delivery proved that the timings in the hospital notes were inaccurate, and the midwife failed to recognise a shoulder dystocia, leading to acute hypoxia and quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Liability admitted after proceedings issued on basis of David’s pleadings, enabling a substantial interim payment to fund the purchase and adaptation of a bungalow

B v Dave (2022): Delayed diagnosis of gout by GP, leading to Symes’ amputation, but where evidence indicated amputation would shortly have been required in any event due to diabetic neuropathy. Settled for £225,000

H v Dada (2021): Spinal cord infarction leading to incomplete paraplegia as a result of a significant reduction in spinal blood flow during the course of surgery to her spine, where it is alleged that the anaesthetist failed to monitor her blood pressure with sufficient frequency and failed to take steps before she suffered injury to her spinal cord. Settled for £1.625m despite breach of duty and causation remaining firmly disputed

H v Rizvi, Garstang & Fernandes (2020): Above-knee amputation suffered as a result of the admitted negligence of 3 GPs to refer the Claimant urgently to hospital. As a consequence of the delay, he developed septic shock, leading to the need for a life-saving amputation

Hawkin v Mid Yorks Hospitals (2018): Above-knee amputation, due to negligent delay in diagnosing critical limb ischaemia, resulting in a settlement of £1.7m in a case where the Claimant’s life expectancy was reduced.

C v The Walton Centre for Neurology & Neurosurgery NHS Trust (2018): David negotiated a settlement worth £3.9m on a global basis on behalf of an elderly patient who suffered a haemorrhagic stroke due to a negligent delay in managing her meningioma, in order to enable her to return home to live with her family with a 24-hour care team

H v Mid Yorks Hospitals (2018): An award of £1.7m was negotiated on behalf of a man who required an above-knee amputation due to a negligent delay in diagnosing critical limb ischaemia, ensuring his prosthetic and other needs would be met throughout the remainder of his reduced life expectancy

B v Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (2018): Settlement of over £400,000 achieved for negligent delay in diagnosing HIV infection, leading to advanced HIV disease