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


David has substantial experience of acting at inquests and public inquiries, and has appeared in a number of such high-profile cases to date. He considers that effective representation at the inquest can often be a cost-effective means of securing supportive evidence for clinical negligence claims, claims arising from fatal accidents at work, or fatal road traffic accidents. At the same time, he is sensitive to the need to support families who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, and for whom obtaining answers regarding the cause of death may be more important than any future damages claim. He has also been instructed at inquests by public bodies including health authorities.

Inquests Cases

Re JH (2017): David acted on behalf of Liverpool City Council in a tragic case where a vulnerable man with severe learning difficulties died as a result of acute brain swelling due to status epilepticus. His mother had failed to administer his medication, and had refused numerous offers of assistance from the Authority’s social services department, leading HM Coroner to observe that it was very difficult to see what further steps could have been taken by the Council to prevent his death

Re MF (2015): David acted on behalf of the Countess of Chester Hospital in an inquest into the death of a patient who died as a result of aspiration, where the psychiatric hospital from which he was admitted with pneumonia and cardiac failure had failed to identify his longstanding swallowing difficulties and aspiration risk at the time of his admission

Re Cowan (2013): An inquest into a fatal accident at work, where careful questioning of the witnesses established a clear breach of the employers’ duties, leading to subsequent settlement of the claim for £400,000. David’s sensitive handling of the case was praised by the family

The “Blue 25” Inquest (2011): High-profile inquest into the deaths of 5 UK servicemen killed by a rogue Afghan policeman at a checkpoint in Helmand Province, which attracted major TV and newspaper coverage. Hilary Meredith praised David’s immense preparation and questioning of senior military officers “with honed skill”, regarding the wisdom of the policy of ‘embedded partnering’ with Afghan forces. At an earlier hearing, David had persuaded the Coroner that a short inquest which failed to investigate such issues would not be compliant with the Human Rights Act

Re Corless (2010): An inquest concerning the tragic death of a cyclist killed by the driver of a vehicle who alleged she had suffered a loss of control due to reflex syncope, in which David was required to question leading medical experts regarding the issues involved

Morecambe Bay Helicopter Crash Inquest (2009): A highly-publicised inquest into a fatal helicopter crash resulting from poor weather, pilot disorientation and poorly-executed transfer of control, which later led to settlement of the fatal accident claim for £375,000

Re Clifton (2008): An inquest concerning the tragic death of a young woman with a chronic history of depression who hanged herself shortly following her discharge from a mental hospital, in which David was praised by the Coroner for his sensitive and careful questioning of medical witnesses, in order to establish the cause of death

Re Sims (2009): A fatal aircraft collision in which various pilots blamed each other, but where the inquest provided valuable evidence in support of a fatal accident claim which later settled for substantial damages

North Wales (Waterhouse) Child Abuse Inquiry (1997-98): David acted on behalf of several former care workers accused of serious sexual or physical abuse in what was at the time the largest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK