David Firth

Head of Litigation, Partner

David is a partner in the Dispute Resolution team at Capsticks and head of the firm’s Litigation division. For more than 15 years, he has supported NHS, private sector and charitable bodies investigated and prosecuted by various agencies including the Police/CPS, the Health & Safety Executive, Local Authorities and the Environment Agency.

David has been instructed in relation to a broad range of cases involving unexpected fatalities in the clinical and non-clinical environment, including those where both individual and corporate prosecutions have resulted. David and his team provide support from the initial stages of Work Related Deaths Protocol meetings, ensuring the client’s own investigation does not prejudice any investigation by the Police/HSE, and at interview under caution.

He has advised NHS bodies through contested Crown Court prosecutions, mindful of the disruption and damage to reputation that the criminal process can cause. His advice is pragmatic; resisting prosecution where appropriate and mitigating proven offences where no defence is available.

David is a frequent conference speaker for the Health Service Journal on issues including corporate manslaughter and governance arrangements and joint working with regulators including the Care Quality Commission. He was a participant in HSJ's on-line "board talk" on corporate manslaughter and wrote the healthcare chapter of Corporate Liability: Work Related Death and Criminal Prosecutions (3rd edition), Bloomsbury Professional, February 2014.

Notable Cases
  • Crown Court prosecution of an NHS mental health Trust as co-defendant following the death of a care home worker at the hands of patient placed there by the defendant Trust. The prosecution focussed on the Trust’s systems relating to selection of care home, analysis of the patient’s needs, failure to monitor the care provided there, and discussions between placement team and Trust clinicians.
  • Crown Court prosecution of a further mental health NHS Trust arising from the death of a care assistant in a detained patient ward.  The Trust’s lone working policy for ward environments was heavily criticised by the Court but the sentence passed at the Old Bailey was less than £10,000 above the Magistrates’ Court maximum fine.
  • Support on one the major Jimmy Savile investigations, involving analysis of Trust policies over a period in excess of 40 years, close working with the independently-instructed investigation team, and advice to the Trust board on implementing recommendations and in response to major press interest following publication of Savile reports nationally in June 2014 and the Health Secretary’s Statement to the House of Commons.
Publications

'Health Improvements', Solicitors Journal, February 2008

Qualifications

BA (Hons), University of Exeter, 1989

MA, University of Durham, 1990

Contact David Firth