David Scorey QC, described as ‘ferociously intelligent’ and ‘a real fighter,’ is a commercial litigator who is a ‘ruthless opponent’ and a ‘polished advocate.’ Instructed by both UK and international clients, David specialises in complex disputes and is ‘commercially focused’ and ‘savvy’. He is ‘a deft advocate on his feet’ and ‘a stylish lawyer’ who has ‘an immense presence both in court and when dealing with clients.’
David’s principal focus is on advocacy: he litigates in domestic courts and in off-shore jurisdictions. In particular, David has significant appellate experience in the Court of Appeal, House of Lords (as was) and Supreme Court). David also has appeared in the ECtHR and has extensive experience in preliminary references to the CJEU. He is called in the BVI and is also a registered lawyer at the DIFC Court and is admitted to practice as a Registered Foreign Lawyer before the Singapore International Commercial Court. In addition, David also regularly arbitrates disputes, both in domestic and international arbitrations, whether ad hoc or under institutional rules (including the ICC’s Emergency Arbitrator procedure).
David’s experience of commercial litigation and arbitrations regularly involves jurisdictional issues and aspects of foreign law. He has acted in a wide variety of commercial cases, with a particular emphasis on fraud, dishonest assistance and tracing claims, commercial disputes, contracts, and financial services. David is currently acting for Citibank in a dishonest assistance claim to be heard in the Financial List in 2020. He is also instructed on behalf of defendants resisting a claim by SKAT for damages in excess of £1 billion in respect of alleged dividend arbitrage fraud.
David is particularly familiar with heavy and complex cases, often involving coordination of litigation in various jurisdictions and working with teams of lawyers. In addition to large and complicated fraud-related and financial litigation, David has extensive expertise in insurance and reinsurance matters, injunctive relief, asset tracing and anti-suit injunctions, banking disputes and regulatory matters.
David usually acts as leader of a team of barristers or as co-chair with foreign lawyers and has particular experience of working with US attorneys from a variety of jurisdictions. First and foremost, David is a practical lawyer which ‘is one of the things that sets him apart from other barristers.’ He is a team player, ‘very approachable and is excellent with clients’ and is able to ‘inspire confidence both with practitioners and in-house teams.’ David’s broad practice means that he is ‘an incredibly good, deep thinker. He is adept at thinking across issues.’
In addition to his commercial and fraud work, David also has particular expertise in high-level excess liability insurance and reinsurance written on the Bermuda Form. He is the co-author of a book on the Bermuda form published by Oxford University Press, The Bermuda Form: Interpretation and Dispute Resolution of Excess Liability Insurance, joint winner of the 2012 BILA Book Prize awarded for the most notable contribution to literature in the field of insurance law. A second edition of the book was published in February 2018.
David also has considerable experience in tax, particularly VAT, IPT and other duties, instructed by solicitors, accountants and other professionals. His revenue practice includes both advisory work and litigation where he has appeared on behalf of taxpayers at all levels, taking appeals from the FTT, through to the House of Lords / Supreme Court and on to the CJEU.
David also accepts instructions as arbitrator. He is Chairman of ARIAS(UK), a member of the ARIAS(UK) Panel of Arbitrators and a member of the London Chamber of Arbitration’s panel of arbitrators.
- What others say
David Scorey QC is consistently highly recommended in the Legal 500 UK Bar, Chambers & Partners (both UK Bar and Global) and Who’s Who Legal in a number of categories. The most recent comments include the following:
The Legal 500 2021, International Arbitration, Insurance & Reinsurance and Tax
- “Sharp as a knife and gets entirely on top of the facts, regardless of how complicated or convoluted they may be – he has an excellent strategic sense and I have complete confidence in his ability to hold a court or tribunal.”
- “Understands the pressures solicitors face from clients, which is extremely helpful in ensuring our advice to clients is consistent and caters to their needs. His knowledge of the Bermuda Form is second to none, but he is a class act in relation to any insurance/reinsurance form.”
- “He is excellent and presents cases economically and effectively in a way which most judges find attractive.”
The Legal 500 2019, International Arbitration, Insurance & Reinsurance and Tax
- ‘He is incredibly bright, clear in his advice and able to explain complex matters to clients and judges.’
- ‘He is great with clients, willing to get his hands dirty, highly responsive and commercial.’
- ‘Intelligent, astute, insightful and tenacious.’
Chambers & Partners 2019
- ‘An impressive silk who maintains a strong reputation in Bermuda Form work. He also handles a wide variety of other commercial disputes, a number of which involves jurisdictional issues.’
- Described as ‘Exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled’ with ‘an impressive commercial practice’ and ‘a great court performer.’
Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2017
- ‘David Scorey QC is “an exceptionally talented and responsive silk” who is “very-well respected” for his impressive big-ticket Bermuda Form practice.
- One source notes, “Even for the commercial Bar he is outstandingly clever.”
Chambers & Partners 2017
- ‘A rising star who is phenomenally good, he knows insurance well and is very good on his feet. He has an authority which eludes many silks senior to him.’
- ‘He is highly committed, industrious, conscientious and an excellent draftsman. He is incredibly experienced and presents exceedingly well, which is of great reassurance to the client.’
Chambers & Partners 2016
- ‘Accomplished silk with particularly deep expertise in insurance-related arbitrations. … He is commercially very savvy and he is very, very good with clients.’
- ‘He has top-notch skills, and a unique perspective on many areas of the law that enables him to help clients meet high-stakes challenges, solve complex problems and reach their goals. … He provides advice that is carefully crafted and skillfully delivered.’
Chambers & Partners 2015
- ‘His knowledge of high level casualty and Bermuda Form work is so deep, and his written work is first-class.’
- ‘An incredibly good, deep thinker. He is adept at thinking across issues.’
- ‘He is outstanding as he examines the evidence in great detail. His litigation skills are very good, and he has a very good understanding of VAT and European Law.’ (Chambers UK 2015)
The Legal 500 2014
- ‘The “ferociously intelligent’ David Scorey is in constant demand”.’
- Arbitration & related court applications
David is ‘recognised for his extensive international arbitration practice and strong advocacy capabilities. His experience in insurance-related disputes sees him regularly instructed on Bermuda Form matters, and he operates at the top end of the arbitration market.’ (Chambers UK 2014).
David has advised and acted (both alone and as co-counsel) in a wide range of arbitrations before domestic and international tribunals, both under institutional rules, including ICC, LMAA, LCIA, UNCITRAL, AAA and ad hoc arbitrations. David has particular expertise in insurance and reinsurance arbitration, particularly Bermudian and London arbitrations concerning the Bermuda Form.
Recent and ongoing arbitrations include:
- Emergency arbitrator procedure under ICC Rules seeking injunctive relief to enforce restrictive covenants.
- Bermuda Form arbitrations for various insurers arising out of historic pollution claims.
- Several Bermuda Form arbitrations in respect of claims for indemnities arising from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
- Multiple arbitrations in respect of claims by pharmaceutical companies in respect of mass tort claims in the US.
- A Bermuda Form arbitration arising from the catastrophic collapse of a dam, resulting in environmental damage in excess of US$1bn.
- Various arbitrations relating to coverage for MTBE pollution in the US.
- Claims for indemnity arising from the Opioid crisis in the US.
He also regularly appears in the English Commercial Court in many arbitration applications, ranging from anti-suit injunctions to issues concerning the bias of an arbitrator (see, e.g., Halliburton v Chubb in the Supreme Court and AT&T v Saudi Cable Company) to enforcement of awards.
David is available to act as arbitrator, whether alone or as part of a larger tribunal. David is a member of the ARIAS(UK) Panel of Arbitrators in addition to being Chairman of ARIAS UK. David is also a member of the London Chamber of Arbitration’s panel of arbitrators.
- Banking & financial services
In the field of banking and financial services, David is said to be ‘very sensible and measured, and brings his mighty intellect to bear on any problems.’ (Chambers UK 2013).
David has acted and advised in a wide range of international and domestic banking disputes on behalf of both corporate individuals, financial institutions and major clearing banks: guarantee disputes, letters of credit, documentary credits, bills of exchange, performance bonds, limited partnerships, injunctions and freezing orders. In Bank of China v NBM LLC, he acted on behalf of the Bank concerning the extra-territorial effect of a world-wide freezing order in support of foreign proceedings.
More recently, David represents Citibank in a dishonest assistance claim litigated in the Financial List of the High Court and acts for RBS in an £87m VAT fraud dispute concerning the trade in carbon credits. He has also recently acted for banking institutions involved in Mauritian arbitral disputes.
In addition to traditional banking disputes arising from international trade, David’s knowledge of the banking sector enables him to provide commercially relevant tax advice to banks relating to VAT and IPT issues and other regulatory matters.
- Civil Fraud & Asset Tracing
David is regularly instructed in complex fraud disputes, both in court and in arbitration. He is currently instructed by Citibank to defend a dishonest assistance claim involving the trade of carbon credits. He is also engaged by a defendant to resist a claim by SKAT seeking damages in excess of £1 billion arising from alleged dividend arbitrage fraud.
David’s experience extends to all aspects of fraud litigation, including pre-trial applications (for worldwide freezing relief or discharge, Norwich Pharmacal orders, ‘passport’ orders and cross-examinations on assets.
- Commercial dispute resolution
David is ‘quick, concise and commercial in his advice’ and is ‘unflappable’ (Chambers UK 2014). He has extensive experience of commercial litigation in a wide variety of areas, both in the English Commercial Court (and on appeals therefrom) and also domestic and international arbitrations, such as fraud claims, carriage of goods, sale of goods, asset tracing, insurance and reinsurance, contractual and non-contractual termination, jurisdictional disputes, worldwide and other freezing orders, anti-suit injunctions, arbitration disputes, service out of the jurisdiction, guarantee disputes, bills of exchange, and documentary credits.
David has considerable experience of freezing injunctions and other interim relief in support of domestic and foreign proceedings – including enforcement of both domestic and foreign judgments. David acted for Kuwaiti Airways in its long running battle to enforce judgments of US$1.2bn against Iraqi Airways. In those proceedings, David obtained freezing orders, including an order preventing a deponent from leaving the jurisdiction and seizure of his passport pending disclosure of assets information ( EWCA Civ 740). In those same proceedings, David sought to enforce judgments in the name of Iraq Airways against assets of the Iraqi State and other State-owned entities.
David has also recently successfully defended a £40m tracing claim advanced by HMRC against a Singaporean client who was alleged to be a co-conspirator in a complex tax fraud: instructed late in the day, David obtained summary judgment in his client’s favour, thereby dismissing the claim, just weeks before a four week Chancery Division trial.
David is currently heavily involved defending a variety of fraud and dishonest assistance claims arising from the sale of carbon credits, both in the Financial List and in the tax tribunal.
David is also regularly instructed to provide expert evidence on English law for foreign proceedings and arbitrations.
- Energy & natural resources
As pupil to David Mildon QC, David’s early career at the bar concentrated upon energy and utilities (particularly regulatory aspects thereof) and oil and gas litigation. Since then, David has acted in a number of disputes (both in the High Court and in international arbitration) concerning oil supply contracts and recently acted in the Commercial Court for one of Romania’s largest oil traders against Vitol. David also acted for BP in a recent commercial court dispute concerning technical issues pertaining to a North Sea drilling rig. David has also been involved in a number of arbitrations concerning the development and exploitation of oil and gas fields, particularly breaches of Joint Operating Agreements and pipeline issues. David also has considerable experience of litigation surrounding offshore exploitation, particularly disputes regarding oil-rigs, off-shore platforms, semi-submersibles and the finance thereof and acted in the Petromec v Petrobras litigation, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. David also recently acted for BP in respect of a dispute regarding a North Sea
In addition, David’s knowledge of the oil and gas sector (including technical knowledge of oil refineries) and has been particularly important in insurance disputes arising from the oil and gas sector. For example, David advised in respect of the Buncefield disaster and has recently arbitrated a complex business interruption claim by the largest oil refinery in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of Hurricane Ike. David is also currently litigating insurance claims arising out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
- Insurance & reinsurance
David has acted and advised in all types of insurance and reinsurance disputes, both in the Commercial Court and in domestic and international arbitration. In particular, he has litigated disputes relating to avoidance for fraud, misrepresentation, non-disclosure, moral hazard and coverage disputes.
He has particular expertise in respect of the Bermuda excess liability form and has appeared in many arbitrations concerning coverage disputes in addition to advisory work on the Bermuda form. David is co-author of The Bermuda Form: Interpretation and Dispute Resolution of Excess Liability Insurance (Oxford University Press, 2012) which was the joint winner of the 2012 BILA Book Prize.
David is currently involved in a number of coverage disputes under the Bermuda Form, including those arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 and the US opioid crisis. Also see ‘Arbitration’ above. In addition, David has acted on a number of occasions as an ‘expert’ on the Bermuda Form in respect of foreign proceedings and arbitrations.
- Media, art, entertainment
Both advisory work and litigation in disputes concerning the entertainment industry, including film distribution, record contract disputes, film finance and production broadcasting rights in addition to agency and management agreements, many of which often include an international element.
David has particular experience in art litigation and related jurisdictional disputes, including the standard terms and conditions of all the major auction houses and London art dealers. Recent work involves a contractual claim disputing the authenticity of a Picasso portrait, advising on potential ‘Holocaust survivors’ claims in respect of the sale of a significant Modigliani landscape, a dispute concerning the obligations of art advisors in respect of potential ‘Holocaust’ claims, and a judicial review regarding an export ban on medieval ivory.
David also recently acted on behalf of the Rolling Stones in respect of the cancellation of the Australasia tour following the death of Mick Jagger’s partner, L’Wren Scott.
- Public & administrative law
David has advised and acted in public law cases. For example: David acted on behalf of Amnesty International intervening in the House of Lords in General Pinochet Extradition (see R v Bow Street Magistrates ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No.2)  1 AC 119 (House of Lords): challenge to House of Lords decision on the ground of bias alleged against Lord Hoffman; and see R v Bow Street Magistrates ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No.3)  1 AC 147 (House of Lords): whether former head of state enjoyed immunity.) He also advised the National Lottery Commission regarding the grant of a new licence to Camelot or The People’s Lottery. David also frequently acts and advises in respect of judicial review claims against HMRC.
- Revenue law (including VAT, IPT, duties & excise)
All aspects of advisory work for indirect taxation, instructed by solicitors, accountants and other professionals under the direct access rules.
In addition to advice on VAT liability and planning, David regularly litigates for taxpayers and has appeared in courts at every level from the tribunal to the House of Lords and Supreme Court, and also the CJEU.
David has been involved in all the major pieces of VAT litigation in recent years. For example, David acted in Upper Tribunal (Briggs J) in ATEC, the first case to discuss the transitional arrangements between the old and new tribunal systems. He acted on behalf of Baxi in the long-running LMUK dispute with HMRC concerning third-party consideration, appearing for Baxi in every court up to and including the CJEU. More recently, David also acted on behalf of Airtours in the Supreme Court in its appeal seeking recovery of VAT incurred on restructuring cost. David was also involved in the VAT grouping litigation, acting on behalf of Taylor Clark in the Supreme Court and for Lloyds in the Court of Appeal. David also successfully obtained a reference from the Court of Appeal to the CJEU in United Biscuits as to whether pension fund management services were a class of exempt insurance business.
David has also acted on behalf of taxpayers in the ongoing compound interest litigation, both in the High Court GLO and the CIP Tribunal proceedings. In addition, David also regularly acts on behalf of taxpayers in judicial review claims against HMRC.
David has extensive experience of MTIC litigation and acted for the taxpayer in the first successful MTIC appeal: Livewire. He has advised and acted in MTIC appeals concerning a raft of products, from mobile ‘phones, CPUs, platinum bars household goods and FMCGs and, more recently, carbon credit trading where he acts on behalf of a number of well-known banks.
His experience in insurance and reinsurance provides considerable knowledge in respect of his advisory work for insurers in respect of IPT.
David is also the Executive Editor of De Voil’s Indirect Tax Intelligence.
- 2015 Appointed Queen’s Counsel
- 1998 Essex Court Chambers
- 1997 Call: Lincoln’s Inn
- 1997 Inns of Court School of Law
- 1996 LLM (European Community Law), Leiden University, The Netherlands
- 1995 BA (Jurisprudence), St. John’s College, Oxford University
- Elected a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn 2018
- Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn: Major Award (Hubert Greenland Scholarship); Wolfson Scholarship; Hardwicke Scholarship
- Elected member of the American Law Institute (ALI) December 2010
- 2012 joint winner of the BILA Book Prize for The Bermuda Form: Interpretation and Dispute Resolution of Excess Liability Insurance (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- Chairman of ARIAS (UK); director of Bar Mutual.