Reset Filter

Sir David is a member of Bankside Chambers, Auckland, New Zealand and Maxwell Chambers, Singapore, as well as being an Associate Member of Essex Court Chambers, London and a member of Lincoln's Inn, London. He is the co-author of the leading text Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration (LexisNexis 2011 – Second Edition 2017). He is a former Justice of the High Court of New Zealand and the Court of the Dubai International Financial Centre. He now sits part-time as the President of the Cook Islands Court of Appeal.


Education

  • LL.B - University of Auckland
  • LL.M - Harvard Law School
  • Visiting Scholar University of Virginia Law School (2002)
  • Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University (1978)

Bio

Sir David is a member of Bankside Chambers, Auckland, New Zealand and Maxwell Chambers, Singapore, as well as being an Associate Member of Essex Court Chambers, London. He is the co-author of the leading text Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration (LexisNexis 2011 – Second Edition 2017). He is a former Justice of the High Court of New Zealand and the Court of the Dubai International Financial Centre. He now sits part-time as the President of the Cook Islands Court of Appeal.

As to his work as an international arbitrator as long ago as 2005 Who’s Who Legal 2005 listed Sir David Williams QC as one of the world’s outstanding commercial arbitrators”. Since then there have been many similar comments. Chambers UK Bar (2013) stated that “David Williams QC of Essex Court Chambers but based in New Zealand, offers significant expertise in investment treaty and commercial arbitration. Market commentators are quick to praise his capabilities as arbitrator, with one source commenting that ‘he controls proceedings brilliantly as chairman’.”


In 2017 he was awarded a Knighthood by the Queen in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of arbitration law and practice in New Zealand and internationally.


In recent years he has been involved in several heavy ICC, LCIA and SIAC arbitrations including two major international construction arbitrations where the amounts claimed exceeded US$1 billion and another ICC case involving an oil pipeline contract dispute, which is still in progress, where the sum claimed is US$35 billion.


Work Highlights

In recent years he has been involved in four major international arbitration cases where the amounts claimed exceeded US $1 Billion dollars.


Pacific China Holdings Ltd (in liq) v Grand Pacific Holdings Ltd CACV 136/2011

Chairman of the HKIAC arbitration in Grand Pacific Holdings Limited v Pacific China Holdings Limited (British Virgin Islands), where an award of US$34 million was made to Claimants. The award was upheld by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in June 2012.


Presiding Judge of the Court of the Dubai International Finance Centre in International Electro-Mechanical Services Co LLC v Al Fattan Engineering, which held that the DIFC Court retained its inherent jurisdiction to issue anti-suit injunctions. The case is discussed by C Spalton in Global Arbitration Review, 23 October 2012: “DIFC Court sends pro-arbitration message” and also in Ostrove, Saloman and Shifman (eds) “Choice of Venue in International Arbitration” (Oxford, 2014) at page 130, paras 5.56-5.57.


Member of the ICSID Tribunal in Occidental Petroleum Corporation v Republic of Ecuador. In October 2012 the Tribunal issued an award in favour of Occidental for US1.9 billion, which was at the time the largest sum ever awarded in an ICSID arbitration. In February 2013 at the Global Arbitration Review Awards in Bogotá, the award for the most important published decision in 2012 in jurisprudential terms went to this decision.


Member of the ICSID Tribunal in Deutsche Bank v Sri Lanka. In November 2012, the Tribunal issued an award in favour of Deutsche Bank for US65 million, finding Sri Lanka had breached the investor protection provisions of the Germany–Sri Lanka Bilateral Investment Treaty.


Sir David has been appointed as a member of the arbitral tribunal which will decide the claim brought by Chinese financial services company, Ping An against the Kingdom of Belgium. Ping An was the largest shareholder in Fortis, a massive Belgium-Dutch Financial Institution which was the subject of a Government rescue in 2008. The Tribunal will be chaired by Lord Collins, recently retired Judge of the UK Supreme Court. The third arbitrator is Mr Michael Moser of Hong Kong. The claim is being brought under the ICSID (World Bank) arbitration rules.


Sir David was Counsel for the Arbitrators’ & Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand as Intervener in the NZ Supreme Court in Carr & Brookside Farm Trust Ltd v Gallaway Cook Allan [2014] NZSC 75. The appeal concerned the principles under Article 34 of Schedule 1 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (NZ) relating to the setting aside by the Court of arbitral awards.


Sir David Williams QC was a member of an ICSID (World Bank) arbitral tribunal which issued in September 2014 a unanimous Award in favour of Canadian listed company Gold Reserve Inc. The Tribunal found that Venezuela had violated the Canada–Venezuela bilateral investment treaty in its treatment of Gold Reserve in relation to its Brisas gold and copper mining project. The Tribunal held the state liable under the treaty’s Fair and Equitable treatment clause and ordered it to pay US713 million for the fair market value of the project, plus US23.3 million in interest and US5 million in legal and technical costs incurred by the claimant. A further 27 cases against Venezuela are pending at ICSID (the International Centre for Investment Disputes, World Bank Washington DC). The majority relate to nationalisations overseen by the late President Hugo Chávez.


Sir David was Chairman of a Court of Arbitration for Sport Arbitration Panel (CAS) which in October 2014 decided an important test case relating to the “out of competition” regime which applies to elite athletes in New Zealand and elsewhere. In its decision the CAS reversed the earlier decision of the New Zealand Sports Tribunal and upheld the primacy of the principle of no prior notification to athletes in relation to out of competition testing.

What Others Say

The President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal said: "Williams and Kawharu deservedly stands amoung the agreat New Zealand legal texts. His vivid scholarship is the direct product of profound knowledge and esperience of the daily practice of arbitration not only in New Zealand but in other jursidictions."


Who’s Who Legal 2019 said: “David A R Williams QC is widely regarded as one of the shining stars of the industry. Peers are constantly impressed by his excellent management of hearings and describe him as ‘one of the best arbitrators out there’ ”.

Publications

  • Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration 2nd Edition, 2017

  • Williams on Environmental and Resource Management Law 1997

Memberships

  • Fellow of Arbitrators and Mediators Institute New Zealand (AMINZ)
  • New Zealand Law Society (NZLS)
  • Auckland District Law Society (ADLS)
  • New Zealand Bar Association (NZBA)
  • Lincoln's Inn
  • International Council on Commercial Arbitration (ICCA)(Advisory Board Member)