David's practice is in commercial disputes, particularly in the fields of banking and finance, commercial fraud, insurance and reinsurance, professional negligence, and technological and industrial disputes. He appears mainly in the High Court in London, but a significant part of his work is in international arbitration or in the courts of offshore jurisdictions.
Most of his cases have an international element, and he is frequently involved in advising on or arguing issues of conflicts of jurisdiction or choice of law. He regularly works with overseas lawyers.
“...fearless, ferociously bright and relentlessly forensic”
Legal 500 UK 2013
“...highly sought after in the Caribbean jurisdictions as he combines ‘amazing intelligence’ and ‘top-class advocacy’ with very quick turnaround times and a ‘user-friendly’ style.”
Chambers & Partners UK 2013
In banking and finance, David has extensive experience of all aspects of commercial and retail banking, including investment advice and investment management, trade finance, securities, syndications, swaps (particularly under the ISDA master agreement), options, and structured financial products. He was Chambers & Partners Bar Awards' Banking and Finance Junior of the Year in 2010 (also nominated in 2012).
In 2012 he was appointed counsel and special advisor to the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in connection with their investigation into the collapse of HBOS, the first time that a parliamentary body has used counsel in that role. The Commission's report ‘An accident waiting to happen': the failure of HBOS was published in April 2013.
He is co-author, with Ali Malek QC, of Jack: Documentary Credits (4th ed., 2009), the principal practitioner's textbook on that subject; he has also contributed chapters to Banking Litigation (3rd ed., 2011) and Capital Markets in the Age of the Euro (2002), and is working on the forthcoming new edition of Paget's Law of Banking.
He has lectured in trade finance at the London School of Economics, where he was a visiting fellow and external examiner. He frequently gives seminars on banking and financial topics to solicitors and bankers and presented a national training course on banking litigation. He presented, with Ali Malek QC, a paper on documentary credits to the Commercial Bar Association.
David's current or recent practice includes acting for:
Credit Suisse, in its ongoing defence of a £20m+ claim by Richard Desmond arising out of CPPI swap transactions;
Lehman Brothers Finance, in various ongoing claims to recover outstanding amounts under terminated ISDA swaps;
Barclays Bank, in a 10 week trial in 2013 defending claims by CF Partners that Barclays misused confidential information in the acquisition of a carbon-trading company; one of the Lawyer's Top 20 cases of 2013;
the Saudi Arabian Algosaibi partnership, in their defence of claims by multiple banks for more than US$200m in respect of financial transactions (including loans, trade finance facilities, Shariah-compliant transactions, interest rate swaps and fx trades) arranged in the partnership's name as part of a multi-billion dollar fraud; one of the Lawyer's Top 20 cases of 2011;
a private individual (pro bono), in his successful defence of proceedings brought by a loan shark seeking to enforce cheques taken as part of an illegal consumer lending business (2012);
Commercial Bank of Qatar, in a $30m documentary credit dispute with National Australia Bank (2012);
Cheyne, a UK investment fund, in its defence of Cayman Islands proceedings brought by an investor (2013);
Oasis, a Hong Kong investment fund, in a claim against Morgan Stanley arising out of the exercise of put options on shares in the collapsed Sino-Forest Corporation (2012);
Centurion, a New York investment fund in its defence, at first instance and on appeal, of a £70m claim for breach of a loan agreement: McKay v Centurion  EWCA Civ 1941;
HSBC, in its defence of the first interest-rate swaps case to reach trial: McGregor v HSBC (2011);
a major institutional fund manager, in its defence in arbitration of a claim concerning the management of a very large portfolio of asset-backed securities impacted by the credit crunch (2010);
Fortis, in its defence of Cayman Islands proceedings arising out of the collapse of the Czech bank IPB (the assets of which were managed offshore);
Goldman Sachs, in its successful defence of a €100m claim by a French investment fund arising out of the arrangement and syndication of structured acquisition financing: IFE Fund SA v Goldman Sachs International  2 Lloyd's Rep 449;
the National Bank of Kazakhstan, resisting enforcement of an arbitration award on grounds of central bank sovereign immunity: AIG v National Bank of Kazakhstan  1 Lloyd's Rep 45;
Rabobank, in a US$500m dispute in connection with a credit default swap forming part of an Enron structured finance package: Royal Bank of Canada v Rabobank  1 Lloyd's Rep 471.
His commercial fraud practice includes some of the largest, most complex and highest profile cases, including corrupt commercial transactions, rogue trading, advance fee/prime bank instrument frauds, share ramping, falsification of trade and banking documents and forgery. He is very experienced at obtaining or opposing asset freezing orders or other urgent injunctive relief.
David has been acting since mid 2009 for Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi Brothers (AHAB), a Saudi Arabian partnership, in a US$10bn claim against Maan Al Sanea and the Saad Group. This is one of the largest frauds ever litigated and it has given rise to proceedings around the world. He is part of an international team pursuing recoveries and at the same time defending claims by banks against AHAB. He successfully obtained an interim damages award of $2.5bn in the Cayman Islands.
He is also currently acting for members of the Fortress investment group in a claim against the managers of the €200m Blue Skye investment fund. A 10 week trial is listed for 2014. The case has already generated two reported decisions on interlocutory issues: Fortis Value Recovery Fund I LLC v Blue Skye Special Opportunities Fund LP  1 Lloyd's Rep. 606 (CA) (third party arbitration rights) and  2 BCLC 351 (reflective loss).
He previously acted for Langbar, an AIM-listed vehicle which collapsed following the discovery that its reported assets of US$600m, supposedly held in Brazil, were entirely fictitious. The fraud is believed to be the largest on the AIM. Langbar brought proceedings against the founder and former chief executive of the company and others, which resulted in a very large recovery for shareholders (over £30m) following a 56 day hearing in the Chancery Division in 2008. Further significant recoveries were made following a second trial in 2010.
He acted for the liquidators of Alphasteel, a failed Welsh steel company, in a £5m+ claim against its former finance director.
He acted for Rabobank in a US$500m dispute in connection with a credit default swap forming part of an Enron structured finance package, sold to Rabobank by the so-called "Natwest Three", later convicted of fraud in the US.
He acted for the Iranian Ministry of Defence in a $120m fraud claim arising out of the purchase of a VIP aircraft for use by senior members of the Iranian Government. Reported at Ministry of Defence for Iran v FAZ Aviation  1 BCLC 599 on the issue of jurisdiction under the EU Jurisdiction Regulation based on principal place of business of a Cyprus corporation.
He acted for the Iranian company Niru in a claim in respect of a US$6m commodities fraud. The case is a leading authority on the scope of the change of position defence to a restitutionary claim: Niru Battery Manufacturing Co v Milestone Trading  1 Lloyd's Rep 344, CA.
David is involved in all kinds of insurance disputes: acting for or against insureds, insurers, reinsurers and retrocessionaires, brokers and coverholders. He is familiar with the operation of the Lloyd's insurance market having previous acted variously for members' agents, managing agents, syndicate auditors, brokers, syndicates and individual Names.
Significant cases include:
Acting for Walsham reinsurance brokers in a historical accounting dispute with Equitas:  EWHC 3264.
Acting for brokers in a dispute over the avoidance of a whole account insurance of the Lloyd's Central Fund (Commercial Court)
Acting for directors of an offshore investment fund in a coverage dispute with their professional indemnity insurers (Commercial Court; also proceedings in the US and offshore jurisdictions).
Acting for a captive insurer in a dispute with insured/reinsurers in connection with a financial insurance programme (LCIA arbitration, London).
Acting for reinsurers in a claim against retrocessionaires in connection with an in-orbit satellite failure (LCIA arbitration, London).
Acting for various Lloyd's syndicates in a claim against their reinsurers in respect of professional liability cover (Commercial Court).
Acting for insurers in a dispute with insured/reinsurers on a multi-year whole account XL policy (Commercial Court).
Acting for an insurer on a coverage dispute relating to US product liability (Commercial Court)
David's professional negligence practice is focussed on lawyers, accountants, actuaries and brokers. A particular area of expertise is in relation to professional conflicts of interest: he was junior counsel in Prince Jefri v KPMG, the leading case in the area, and in a number of subsequent cases, and is regularly called on to act for or advise professional firms or their clients where a potential conflict has arisen.
Before studying law, David was employed for 18 months in the research and development centre of ICL Mainframe Systems (now part of Fujitsu) developing software for the automated design of computer logic and memory components. He was awarded the SB Marsh Scholarship by ICL and also a university sponsorship while taking his mathematics degree. He maintains a close and keen interest in computers and information technology. Assisted by his mathematical and technical background, David has acted in a number of large software and hardware disputes, often relating to the delay or cancellation of major projects. He has given a paper to the Society of Computers and Law on "Time and Delay in IT projects".
Many of David's cases involve complex technical, electronic or industrial processes. For example, David has acted:
for a Dutch steel manufacturer in a six week trial in the Technology & Construction Court (2013) in connection with the construction of an offshore mooring system;
for a multi-national supplier of IT services in a dispute concerning the setting up a wireless data network for a Belgian supplier of uninterruptible power supply generators in a dispute concerning the operation of industrial fans in a telecommunications centre;
for a Dutch manufacturer of industrial pipeline systems in connection with a power station development; for a supplier of air-conditioning systems in a dispute with the manufacturer; in a dispute concerning the failure in orbit of a telecommunications satellite;
for a Dubai-based provider of repair services for smartphones;
for an Argentine oil company in a long-running series of ICC arbitrations against the Government of Turkmenistan, concerning oil and gas exploration and development joint ventures. The arbitrations raised issues as to the geology, logistics and mechanics of drilling HTHP oil and gas wells in remote locations and involved a detailed consideration of the market for Central Asian hydrocarbons;
for a power station operator in a dispute under a long-term gas purchase agreement Esso Exploration v Electricity Supply Board  1 All ER (Comm) 926.
A significant proportion of David's work involves arbitration rather than litigation, under various rules and in various countries. He has in the past acted as a supervisor and external examiner for commercial arbitration dissertations at the London School of Economics.
Recent or significant arbitration work includes:
Acting for a multinational supplier of IT services in a dispute concerning the setting up a wireless data network; over $300m was in issue (ICC, London);
Acting for an institutional fund manager in its defence of a $100m claim concerning the management of a very large portfolio of asset-backed securities impacted by the credit crunch (LCIA, London);
Acting for the Argentinian oil company Bridas in a long-running dispute with the Government of Turkmenistan over oil and gas exploration and production contracts (ICC, Houston/Stockholm);
Acting for a reinsurer in a dispute concerning the failure in orbit of a telecommunications satellite (LCIA, London);
Acting for a manufacturer of industrial chemicals in a dispute over a production agreement (UNCITRAL, London);
Acting for a manufacturer of pipelines in a dispute concerning the construction of a Singapore power station (ICC, London/Paris);
David was instructed directly by an in-house legal department;
Acting for a Dubai-based provider of repair services for smartphones (LCIA, London).
David graduated in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a senior scholar in mathematics, and also won the Maitland Prize in law and the Lizette Bentwich Prize in law.
He was called to the Bar in 1993 by Gray's Inn, receiving the Gray's Inn Atkin Scholarship and a Certificate of Honour from the Inns of Court School of Law.
He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2013.
He was formerly a visiting fellow and external examiner at the London School of Economics.