All at Bankside Chambers are delighted that one of the senior members, David Williams QC has been made a Knight Companion of the Order of New Zealand in the New Year’s Honours list. The award is well-deserved and acknowledges Sir David’s huge contribution to arbitration both in this country and internationally.
Sir David was a driving-force in the establishment of Bankside Chambers. When practising at Nine Princes Street Chambers in the early years of the century, he saw the potential for a new set of Chambers in Auckland which brought together leading barristers with various specialities as well as experienced arbitrators and mediators. When the new state-of-the-art Lumley Building became available in 2007, he was one of the first members of the new set of Chambers there. He has continued to be a respected member of and a guiding presence at Bankside. His vision has ensured that Bankside Chambers –almost ten years on- has expanded to become one of Auckland’s prime legal resources. Moreover, Sir David’s ever-increasing international reputation has brought the Chambers to the attention of many overseas lawyers. He established Bankside’s presence in the prestigious Maxwell Chambers in Singapore and has served on a number of international arbitral institutions.
His abilities as an arbitrator have seen him appointed in a huge range of important arbitrations. Many involved huge sums and many had a variety of sovereign states as parties. He has been appointed by all the world’s leading arbitral institutions and nominated as independent chair by a host of acknowledged leading arbitrators. His hard work has really put New Zealand “on the map” in international arbitration and has shown that distance need not be an obstacle to achieving excellence in what is a very competitive field. He has also been involved in several high-profile sports arbitrations. He was largely responsible for setting-up ICC New Zealand which has meant that New Zealand arbitrators can be considered for appointment by the ICC Court of Arbitration which administers arbitrations worldwide from its headquarters in Paris.
Sir David’s enormous energy has meant that he has done much for arbitration in New Zealand despite the demands of his overseas work. He was involved when New Zealand decided to adopt the UNCITRAL model arbitration law in 1996 and was involved in a “roadshow” which explained the new law to the legal profession. He served on the Council of The Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute and became its President. Along with Amokura Kawharu, he authored the magisterial and definitive text on arbitration in New Zealand. He has employed many talented juniors and summer clerks over the years who have all benefited from working for such a distinguished and busy arbitrator. Many of these have gone on to good positions overseas thanks to their grounding which has equipped them well.
He has always had an interest in the Cook Islands and has served as the Chief Justice and, more recently, as the President of the Court of Appeal . Despite the smallness of the population, the Cook Islands produces many interesting and challenging legal issues which Sir David handles wisely and well. His judicial work also included membership of the Commercial Court in Dubai.
Much more could be said about Sir David’s contributions to arbitration and his promotion of Bankside. However, one cannot finish without reference to Sir David’s friendly personality and his willingness to assist his colleagues in Chambers. We all offer our congratulations to him and to Lady Williams.