London Inquest Convenes in Hogan Lovells Partner Death
An inquest in London into the tragic death earlier this year of Hogan Lovells senior intellectual property partner David Latham has heard evidence that the 58-year-old lawyer leapt in front of a Tube train and killed himself due to work-related stresses.
On Friday morning, February 15, the train entered Notting Hill Gate station for the London Underground and struck and killed Latham, a married father of three from the nearby Kensington neighborhood. His sudden death shocked family, friends, and colleagues, who knew Latham as a likeable, honest, and loyal man with a passion for IP.
While the Metropolitan Police did not determine Latham’s death to be suspicious, in the United Kingdom all unexplained deaths must go through an investigative process. An inquest was opened into Latham’s death, and proceedings were adjourned for the past several months in order to gather evidence.
On Thursday, the Westminster Coroner’s Court heard evidence that while Latham had no history of psychiatric problems, he had been distraught in the days prior to his death due to work-related stresses, according to reports by British newspapers the Daily Mail and Evening Standard.
Closed-circuit television cameras captured Latham standing on an eastbound platform shortly before he hurled himself in front of a train entering the Tube station. The inquest heard testimony from Latham’s widow, Gillian Webb, who said her late husband was on edge for weeks about an evidentiary matter in a case he was handling, and had admitted to one colleague he was thinking about killing himself.
Hogan Lovells IP consultant Nicholas MacFarlane told the court Latham was a “perfectionist” who had become obsessed about a relatively minor matter that he was convinced would reflect poorly on him and the firm. MacFarlane said Latham’s suicide threat was taken as a “flippant” comment, and that no one seriously thought he was close to suicide, according to the Daily Mail.
The newspaper notes that Latham's cause of death was indeed suicide, as a coroner has determined that Latham “jumped in front of a train of his own accord,” despite reassurances from colleagues that he had done no wrong.
In a statement mourning Latham’s passing earlier this year, Hogan Lovells chair Nicholas Cheffings touted the “highly regarded” IP partner and expressed shock at his abrupt death.
“David was a leading [IP] expert and long-standing senior partner at the firm with significant global experience,” Cheffings said. “He regularly managed complex high-profile matters and his great calm, good humor, and professionalism were widely regarded by colleagues and competitors alike.”
Jeremy Phillips, an IP partner with Olswang in London, knew Latham and penned a blog post earlier this year recalling a lawyer whose “enthusiasm was infectious, since it inspired many a young entrant to the legal profession to steer their interest towards the then-nascent field of [IP].”