Who? David Cook, senior solicitor at Spire Healthcare.
Why is he in the news? Breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who practised at two Spire Healthcare hospitals, carried out unnecessary or inappropriate breast surgery. He was recently convicted of multiple counts of GBH and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. The parties have agreed a global settlement of the civil litigation and established a £37m fund to compensate over 750 of Paterson’s victims.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This was tragic and unprecedented. I am pleased to achieve a settlement which delivers fair compensation to all Paterson’s victims.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Attempting to explain our position in the context of live proceedings was a challenge. We proposed a form of managed litigation which sought to expedite the legal process and to reach a resolution as soon as possible, but the criminal trial and truly novel legal issues raised in this case made speaking candidly about our position difficult. The media coverage was, understandably, overwhelmingly from a claimant perspective and it was tough to make the intricacies of the legal issues rise above the human interest stories.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘It’s the only job I ever aspired to (after a younger me decided against being a fireman). I wanted a career that would stretch me intellectually while remaining interesting and varied. It hasn’t disappointed.’
Career high: ‘Moving in-house. Waving a fond farewell to chargeable hours and being part of a business which produces something other than fees. At Spire, the legal team is encouraged to get out into our hospitals, so as to better understand our business from the perspective of patients and staff. That practical exposure to how patient care is delivered helps to inform and focus my legal advice, and I am a better lawyer for it.’
Career low: ‘Losing my first case to go to trial when still in private practice. In circumstances where 99% of clinical negligence claims settle pre-trial, I was delighted to finally get there after eight years. To lose what I thought was a cast-iron case was tough to take, and certainly taught me the true meaning of litigation risk.’