Professional practice

David Davies QC is an experienced advocate who has represented clients in some of the most high-profile and high-value fraud and international arbitration cases in London in recent years.  He has been described in the legal directories as “a Rolls Royce technical lawyer”, “a man of real talent and real insight”, a “brilliant practitioner” and a “fine lawyer”.  David has considerable experience working with large teams of solicitors, foreign lawyers and experts and is known for his “soft people skills” and has been described as a “pleasure to work with” and “very popular with clients”.

David’s clients are typically banks and financial institutions (whether in England or elsewhere), large commercial organisations, including state-owned companies, and high-net-worth individuals. In the last few years, he has for example acted for a Caribbean state-owned energy company, the Mercuria Group, a consortium of international energy companies with interests in the North Sea, a Middle Eastern Government, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a prominent Swiss banker. He has also represented a number of high-profile Russian clients including a major retail bank, one of Russia’s largest oil companies and companies within the Iterros Group in a dispute involving three of Russia’s most high-profile businessmen (Oleg Deripaska, Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Potanin).

Commercial/Fraud Litigation: David is “known for his involvement in cases involving complex fraud” and has considerable experience of fraud litigation on the largest scale and “knows the fraud market, is highly commercial and is both capable and clever”.  Many of David’s cases involve Russia or the former CIS states and he is “often to be seen handling complex, multi-jurisdictional oligarch related work” and “has a really deep understanding of that area of the law”.  David has particular experience of heavy High Court trial work, having acted in three lengthy international fraud trials:

  • the 11-week Tatneft trial (US$300 million fraud claim against prominent Ukrainian businessmen applying Russian and Ukrainian law);
  • the 9-week Bank Trust trial (US$900 million claim against former directors and majority owners of a Russian retail bank in relation to related-party transactions and manipulation of the bank’s accounts); and
  • the 24-week Fiona Trust trial (US$800 million fraud claim arising out of the alleged bribery of senior officials at Russian state-owned shipping companies).

In addition to those matters, David has appeared in three high stakes expedited trials in the Commercial Court (Mercuria v. Citibank; Rusal v. Crispian and Taqa Britani v. RockRose). As a result, David has considerable experience of the preparation and conduct of complex and document-heavy commercial trials including those involving detailed expert evidence and the application of foreign law.  This experience includes the cross-examination of foreign law experts on complex points of law and, in both the Bank Trust and Tatneft trials, David undertook the cross-examination of the Defendants’ Russian law expert.

As many of David’s cases involve allegations of fraud or urgent issues, he has extensive experience of worldwide freezing orders and other urgent injunctive relief and has, on several occasions, acted in a series of urgent hearings in relation to such injunctions. His experience includes the successful defence of the WFOs in the Bank Trust and Tatneft cases, contempt proceedings relating to breaches of a WFO (PJSC VAB v. Maksimov) and acting as lead counsel in a series of interlocutory hearings in VPB v. Bedzhamov, a £1.3 billion fraud claim in the Chancery Division in which a WFO and Search Order had been granted.

As a result of the international nature of his work, David has appeared in a number of major jurisdictional disputes in the English courts. His experience in this regard includes the Latmar Holdings case in the Commercial Court and Court of Appeal, VTB v. Nutritek (Court of Appeal), representing the government of Kazakhstan in Erdenet Mining Corp v. Kazakhstan and acting as sole counsel for a former senior partner of Banque Mirabaud in the recent major jurisdictional dispute in The Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan, a US$800 million claim relating to allegations of bribery of a Kuwaiti public official and one of The Lawyer’s “Top 20 Cases of 2020”.

International Arbitration: David has a substantial practice in international commercial arbitration and has been described as a “leading light in the arbitration area”. He has appeared in numerous confidential international arbitrations, often acting for or against state-owned companies. He has for example acted in long-running proceedings arising out of the privatisation of the railways of Kenya and Uganda, represented a European state in a dispute in relation to satellite surveillance services and a state oil and gas company in relation to a subsea drilling project in the Caribbean. He has also appeared in the Iran-US Claims Tribunal in the Hague in proceedings relating to alleged breaches by the United States of the Algiers Accords of 1981.

David is also frequently instructed in arbitration related proceedings in the Commercial Court including challenges to awards under Sections 67, 68 and 69 of the Arbitration Act and proceedings in relation to the enforcement of major arbitration awards such as the Yukos award against the Russian state and IMS v. MODSAF (Iranian sanctions).

 

What others say

David has been recommended in the legal directories for many years. Client comments from Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 include the following: “very popular with clients” ; “gives very commercial advice”; “a top pick”; “has remained particularly busy of late advising on large-scale fraud litigation”; “produces excellent work”; “a compelling advocate”; “very strong academically”, “has a very good manner with both instructing solicitors and clients”; “He puts his point across in a measured and compelling manner”; “One of the first choices on the team sheet for a substantial case”; “Very detail-oriented and able to analyse a large amount of information quickly and efficiently”; “One of the first choices for a fraud case. He is technically very good and shows excellent judgement”; “Excellent. He has terrific attention to detail and the ability to present the most difficult of cases.”; “He’s got his head screwed on, is good on the substance and has good judgement.”; “A well-regarded junior counsel who is extremely active in serious fraud trials and interim proceedings. He is strong on jurisdictional issues”; “Bright, thorough, pleasant and well thought of at the Bar.”; “He is a tremendous lawyer who shows good judgement and is easy to work with. He remains calm under pressure.”; “Fabulously user-friendly and very clever, he turns things around extraordinarily quickly.”; “Shows fine judgement and provides excellent legal analysis.”; “A brilliant practitioner”; ‘A very impressive junior, who inspires confidence.’; “Very bright and sensible, he’s someone who comes up with lots of ideas.”; “He is held in high regard.”; “Calm and measured. He shows very good judgement and his analysis is first-class.” “Impressive in court and not afraid to take people on.”; “Possesses great judgement and is a fine lawyer – known for his involvement in cases involving complex fraud”; “Very perceptive, he sees the problems and the solutions.”; “He effectively runs matters like a junior silk. He’s very able and always on top of the detail.”; “He always shows great judgement and you can have confidence in his advice.”;A real star who gets on top of the facts very quickly”.

Comments from the recent editions of the directories include the following: “He has a very good legal mind, is confident in his advice and advocacy, and has excellent judgement”; “His written work is excellent and he gets on top of the facts very quickly”; “Thorough and confident in his advice on his feet”; “He has great judgement and is fantastic to dealt with”; “A strong and confident advocate who excels in providing clear, sensible and commercial advice”; Very sensible, easy to deal with and a safe pair of hands – a great addition to any team.’; ‘Commercial and sensible, sound and practical judgment and a pleasure to work with.’; ‘He is quick responsive and incisive, his written work is excellent and thorough.’; ‘Good judgement and a leading light in the arbitration arena.; “A go-to junior for civil fraud cases, particularly those with a CIS flavour to them – he has a really deep understanding of that area of the law.”; “He knows the fraud market, is highly commercial and is both capable and clever.”

Examples of Recent Cases

Cases in the public domain in within the last five year include:

  • The Tatneft litigation: large-scale international fraud proceedings in the Commercial Court involving a major challenge to a worldwide freezing order before Picken J ([2016] EWHC 2816 (Comm)) and the Court of Appeal ([2017] EWCA Civ 1581), a series of interlocutory decisions and an eleven-week fully remote trial before Moulder J in 2020 ([2021] EWHC 411 (Comm)).
  • The Bank Trust litigation: US$900 fraud claim against former directors and majority shareholders of a major Russian retail bank involving the defence of a WFO against allegations of non-disclosure ([2016] EWHC 1913 (Comm)) and a 9-week trial before Bryan J in 2018 ([2020] EWHC 100 (Comm)).
  • The Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & others [2020] EWHC 2979 (Comm): US$800 bribery claim against a senior Kuwaiti official and a very large number of corporate and individual defendants. David represented Mr Thierry Fauchier-Magnan in a successful multi-party jurisdictional challenge before Henshaw J.
  • Taqa Bratani Ltd v. RockRose [2020] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 64: expedited declaratory proceedings in the Commercial Court concerned with a disputed change of operator in relation to substantial infrastructure assets in the North Sea. The judgment of HHJ Pelling QC considers the limits of good faith principles in English commercial law.
  • MODSAF v. IMS [2019] 1 WLR 6409: enforcement of major arbitration award arising out of the supply of Chieftain tanks and armoured vehicles to Iran in the 1970s and considering whether interest accrues on awards that cannot presently be paid due to sanctions.
  • UC Rusal v. Crispian Investments Ltd [2019] BCC 237: dispute between the shareholders of valuable Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel in relation to attempted sale by companies associated with Roman Abramovich of shares worth US$1.9 billion. Expedited proceedings compressed into 4 months.
Arbitration & related court applications

This is one of David’s principal practice areas. He regularly acts in all types of international arbitrations under the rules of the ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and the LMAA. Such work has encompassed a broad spectrum of subject matters including defence procurement, oil & gas, offshore engineering and construction, commodities and shareholders’ disputes. Many cases have involved either states or state-owned companies. David also has substantial experience of applications to the Commercial Court under the Arbitration Act, particularly under sections 44, 67, 68 and 69, and also enforcement of arbitration awards in England & Wales under the New York Convention. In particular, he has substantial experience in relation to the enforcement of arbitral awards against states and issues of sovereign immunity.

Banking & financial services

David has substantial experience of banking litigation including, in particular, claims involving allegations of fraud by or against banks and in relation to the impact of fraud by third parties on complex banking agreements.  For example, he acted for Mercuria Trading in its expedited proceedings against Citibank arising out of a major metals fraud in the Chinese ports of Qingdao and Penglai ([2015] EWHC 1481 (Comm)) and for the Russian retail bank Bank Trust in its claims against its former directors and majority shareholders for breaching their directors’ duties and manipulating the bank’s public accounts through disguised related-party lending ([2020] EWHC 100 (Comm)).

Civil fraud & asset recovery

David has extensive experience of major fraud litigation and has been instructed on a number of high-profile fraud matters including the Tatneft, Bank Trust and Fiona Trust trials referred to above. He has been recommended in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 in this area for many years.

He has considerable experience of all the main aspects of international fraud litigation such as freezing and search orders, contempt, jurisdictional challenges and the preparation and conduct of major trials and he has acted on many urgent and fast-moving matters involving ex parte applications. Many of David’s cases in this area have involved the application of a foreign law and he has, on numerous occasions, worked closely with foreign lawyers and experts.

Commercial chancery disputes

David’s general commercial and fraud practice has often involved conducting litigation in the Chancery Division. He has, for example, appeared in Hanco ATM Systems v. Cashbox ATM Systems [2007] EWHC 1599 (Ch); Jenington International Inc v. Kanat Assaubayev [2010] EWHC 2351 (Ch); and Cadogan Petroleum Plc v. Mark Tolley [2011] EWHC 2286 (Ch) and in numerous interlocutory hearings in VPB v. Bedzhamov (2019), a US$1.3 billion fraud claim.

Commercial dispute resolution

David has considerable experience of commercial litigation on the largest scale having acted in the Fiona Trust litigation, the Bank Trust litigation and the Tatneft litigation, which all involved the grant of a worldwide freezing injunction followed by a series of substantive interlocutory hearings and a lengthy trial in the Commercial Court.  In addition to those matters, David has appeared in three high stakes expedited trials in the Commercial Court (Mercuria v. Citibank; Rusal v. Crispian and Taqa Britani v. RockRose) and has extensive experience of joint venture and shareholders’ disputes and disputes arising out of the energy and commodities sectors.

He has also been involved in a number of jurisdiction challenges such as Erdenet Mining Corp v. Kazakhstan, LTL 4/2/2016; VTB Capital Plc v. Nutritek International Corp [2012] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 313 (Court of Appeal); Latmar Holdings Corp v. Media Focus [2012] EWHC 262 (Comm) (Eder J); [2013] EWCA 4 (Court of Appeal); (Comm); Sax v. Lev Tchernoy [2014] EWHC 796 (Comm); and The Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & others [2020] EWHC 2979 (Comm).

Conflict of laws & private international law

David has extensive experience of jurisdictional and choice of law issues under both the common law and European regimes. Further, as part of his general commercial and fraud practice, he has been engaged in many cases involving disputed questions as to the law applicable to contractual, tortious and unjust enrichment claims. David also has substantial experience dealing with the substance of foreign law, including Russian law and the law of various other former CIS states along with other legal systems such as Venezuela, Switzerland, China and Serbia.

Employment

David has been instructed on several High Court employment cases raising issues such as breach of fiduciary duty by directors and senior executives and the alleged misuse of confidential information. His injunctive work (described in more detail the Commercial Dispute Resolution section above) has often involved the area overlap between employment law and commercial law and he has been led by leading employment practitioners such as Andrew Hochhauser Q.C., Martin Griffiths Q.C. and Charles Ciumei Q.C.

Energy & natural resources

Many of David’s cases relate to the energy sector and in particular he has considerable experience of litigating for and against state oil and gas companies, typically in confidential arbitration proceedings. He has also been instructed in two sets of expedited proceedings in the Commercial Court in relation to Joint Operating Agreements in the North Sea (Apache Beryl I Ltd v. Marathon Oil UK LLC and Taqa Bratani Ltd v. RockRoise UKCS8 LLC) and has considerable experience of the issues arising from venture capital investment in North Sea infrastructure.

Insurance & reinsurance

David has experience of Lloyd’s market related claims including broker’s negligence, claims against members’ agents and political risk insurance. He has also advised on a range of non-Lloyd’s insurance matters including liability insurance policies governed by both English and New York Law. David also has also acted on several marine insurance cases, typically involving actual or constructive total losses.

Public international law

David has substantial experience of areas where public international law overlaps and interacts with commercial law. This includes inter-state litigation in relation to commercial contracts, the interpretation of treaties and state immunity under the State Immunity Act 1978, particularly in the context of enforcement of arbitration awards against states. Such work has involved acting in conjunction with public international law specialists and academics.

David represented the state of Iran in major international litigation against the Federal Government of the United States in the Hague involving complex issues of treaty interpretation (US-Iran Claims Tribunal Cases A15, A26 & B43).

Shipping & admiralty

Aside from shipping-related cases in the Commercial Court, David has acted in numerous LMAA arbitrations. These have included major shipbuilding arbitrations, cases concerned with offshore construction projects and numerous time charter cases (typically NYPE or Shelltime) and often involving tankers and technical issues relating to their operation. David has substantial experience of cross-examination of technical experts. Further, as part of his fraud practice, David has often been instructed on cases involving alleged fraud in the maritime sector, most notably the major Fiona Trust litigation.

Career

Called to the bar by Gray’s Inn 2004

Tenant at Essex Court Chambers from October 2004 to present

Pupil Supervisor from 2013 to 2019

Called to the bar in the British Virgin Islands in 2015

Appointed as Queen’s Counsel in March 2021

Education

2001-2002 Jesus College, Oxford University Bachelor of Civil Law, Distinction

1998-2001 Jesus College, Oxford University MA in Jurisprudence, Double First-Class Honours

Awards

Meryricke and Sankey Scholar of Jesus College Oxford

Bedingfield and Atkin Scholar of Gray’s Inn