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David Donaldson QC is a highly respected commercial silk, with a broad range of experience across a number of specialist disciplines. These include extensive experience of financial services, banking, insurance and reinsurance, contractual and jurisdictional disputes. He has appeared in a wide range of domestic, European, overseas and international courts and tribunals, including many times in important cases in the House of Lords and the European Court of Justice.
A highlight was his involvement in the long-running Kuwait Airways Corporation v Iraqi Airways Corporation, litigation arising out of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and involving claims for $1.5 billion after the seizure and removal of the Kuwaiti Airbus and Boeing airliner fleet by Iraq. The case involved complex and fundamental issues of public and private international law, non-justiciability, rights to property in a transnational context and damages.
David was appointed a Recorder in 1994 and a Deputy High Court Judge from 1995 to February 2016, sitting initially in the Queen’s Bench and from 1999 mainly in the Chancery Division. He has also sat as an arbitrator in international arbitrations.
1995-2016 Deputy High Court Judge
1965-1969 Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
David advises and acts in all areas of commercial law including banking, insurance, reinsurance, financial services, contracts, conflict of laws and jurisdictional disputes. David’s banking experience extends across retail, merchant, and bank finance disputes and bank documentation (bills of exchange, letters of credit, guarantees etc.) advising and acting for and against banks. He has appeared in a number of specialist disciplinary and regulatory tribunals, including in the financial services and insurance sectors.
In addition to these areas he has advised and acted in shipping, aviation, company disputes, patent licensing, vending agreements, sale and purchase of ships, commodity trading, professional negligence (accountants, solicitors).
Advising the Department of Transport on implications for the Channel Tunnel Concession of the decision of the Paris Commercial Court placing the Eurotunnel Group companies under sauvegarde.
Advising on export controls on military material.
Advising on implications of FSA Principles for renewable health insurance contracts.
Advising ECGD on revisions to Political Risk insurance policies.
Acting for and advising ECGD in complex litigation in connection with ECGD insurance policies in respect of political risk in relation to the Dabhol power plant in India, includes issues of public international law.
Acting for a Spanish football player in a claim against Chelsea FC.
Acting for UK, French and German export credit guarantee agencies in claims based on sale agreement for 3 Airbus aircraft.
Advising on powers of NHS Hospital Health Trusts and Foundation Trusts to enter into PFI contracts.
Acting for and advising a shipyard in relation to an injunction to complete construction.
Advising on re-financing issues in connection with the Channel Tunnel Project and on the internal powers of the Secretary of State to give a guarantee and the impact on his prerogative and common law powers of legislation in this area.
Advising on regulations governing tax avoidance schemes and the impact on legal privilege.
A decision of the Secretary of State to withdraw funding for a public transport scheme was not in breach of any legitimate expectation or an unreasonable or unlawful act as the funding was dependant on conditions, in particular, upon a fixed cost for the scheme, which were not met.
Major piece of litigation arising out of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and involving claims for $1.5 billion after the seizure and removal of the Kuqaiti airliner fleet by Iraq. The case involved complex and fundamental issues of public and private international law, non-justiciability, rights to property in a transnational context and damages.
Complex litigation in connection with ECGD insurance policies in respect of political risk in relation to the Dabhol power plant in India, includes issues of public international law.
The presumption that facultative reinsurance cover was back-to-back with the original insurance was not rebutted. Case concerned issues of insurance law, contract, shipping and conflict of laws.
David has a broad range of EC law experience that includes acting for the UK government on Article 177 interventions in a large variety of cases, including freedom of movement of goods, vocational education grants and fees, common commercial policy, Article 85 and 86. Advised on competition law in relation to sports TV broadcasting, and on directives in numerous areas, e.g. medicines, insurance companies.
David has advised in public law cases of a commercial nature: e.g. bus transport, compulsory tendering, financial services, private finance initiative, privatisation. David has extensive hospital PFI experience, having advised both project contractors and banks and other financial institutions in relation to the PFI Design, Construct, Finance and Operate (DCFO) contracts for new hospitals with NHS Hospital Trusts at Norfolk and Norwich, Barnet General, Dartford, Wycombe General and Amersham, and Birmingham.
David also has extensive transport experience and has advised on a number of significant projects, including the Design, Build, Finance and Operate contract for Greater Manchester Light Railway system, application of Railway and Transport Acts to Merseyrail, the Transport Acts and buses, South West Trains in relation to powers of Franchising Director, Virgin Trains re franchising and Government powers in relation to Channel Tunnel Rail Link financing.
He also acted for the Department of Transport in relation to the withdrawal of a £190 million grant for the Merseytram project.
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