David Brownbill QC specialises in international trust, company and financial services disputes and advice. His experience covers international trust, corporate and commercial structuring; investment funds, commercial trusts and pensions; political risks, international sanctions, investment disputes and bilateral investment treaties.

Regularly recommended by the legal directories for his work in these areas, he is described as

Extremely knowledgeable and commercial“, the legal directories laud David as “a convincing advocate” who “has his finger on the pulse” and “combines all the ideal attributes of a barrister: he is a master of the technical law but also a major contributor towards strategy“.

David’s litigation work covers all matters within these fields, in both the English and the Commonwealth courts. David has been called to the Bar of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, has appeared in the courts of the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man and regularly advises on cases in Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Jersey, Guernsey, Hong Kong, the Middle East and Singapore.

Clients value his ability to manage cases whose size, complexity and profile make them extremely difficult to handle.  David has, accordingly, acted in numerous international and offshore trust, company and commercial disputes, including substantial fraud and asset recovery claims, both in  England and overseas.  David has also acted in various disputes concerning investment funds including a number of Madoff related matters.

David advises on the transactional as well as the litigation aspects of investments funds and commercial trusts generally and is regularly instructed to advise on complex trust and corporate documentation.  David is well known for his ability to devise innovative solutions to problems, particularly in cases where tax and other transactions have gone awry.

David has for many years been concerned in the planning of international estates and family enterprise succession, including devising complex family governance and control structures.

David has also assisted various jurisdictions on the drafting of trust and company legislation and, most recently, has been retained in the Bahamas to advise on and draft legislation to provide for the arbitration of trust disputes, to introduce new features to its trust law and to abolish perpetuities.

David is an editor of International Trust Laws, and a member of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

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Areas of experience

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  • International and offshore work forms a very large percentage of David’s caseload, giving him substantial experience in this area. He regularly advises and appears in a number of jurisdictions including Jersey, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and Lichtenstein.

  • Banking and Financial Services

    David Brownbill QC has handled a wide range of financial services and related matters both contentious and non-contentious. David deals regularly on matters involving commercial trusts, investment funds, purpose trust and other SPV arrangements, pensions and insurance contracts

    Recent matters include:

    • Defending Guernsey trustees caught up in a fraudulent investment scheme
    • A negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claim by Isle of Man trustees against UK investment advisers
    • A negligence claim against various parties in connection with an enterprise zone property unit trust
    • A claim for the removal of trustees of a BVI based unit trust
    • Acting for defendants concerned in an investment fund invested entirely with Madoff
    • The sale of an internet betting business to Bet on Sports embroiled in the shut down of that business by US authorities
    • An trust arbitration dispute arising in relation to a liquidation trust
    • Acting for offshore corporate service providers in connection with an ownership and negligence claim
    • Advising and drafting in connection with a trust structure to be utilised within a complex hedge fund
    • Drafting and advising on various aspects of a private unit trust
    • Drafting and advising on the restructuring of an offshore pension fund
    • Advising trustees of a $1.5bn group of offshore trusts concerned in various US Senate and SEC investigations
  • Civil Fraud, Asset Tracing & Recovery

    David Brownbill QC has acted various fraud, tracing and asset recovery claims, both in England and overseas

    Current and recent matters include:

    • A $1bn fraud and ownership dispute concerning offshore trust and company structures with proceedings in Gibraltar, England, the US and Eastern Europe
    • Advising Channel Island trustees in connection with a fraud claim involving an Eastern European mining group
    • US$100m fraud committed against an offshore trust structure and involving proceedings in Switzerland, New York, BVI, Bermuda and England
    • Acting for defendants concerned in an investment fund invested entirely with Madoff
    • Defending Guernsey trustees caught up in a fraudulent investment scheme
    • Acting for an offshore company, in a recovery action, alleged to be the recipient of the proceeds of political bribes
    • Advising on issues of jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments in a substantial fraud claim
  • Commercial Litigation

    David Brownbill QC has been concerned in numerous commercial cases, including substantial fraud and asset recovery claims, both in England and overseas. Professional negligence in the context of financial and commercial disputes is an area that David has considerable experience.

    His recent work includes:

    • A shareholder dispute concerning a listed company and involving claims of misfeasance, corporate governance and breach of contract in Guernsey and England
    • A professional negligence claim against a UK based investment adviser
    • An international dispute between oligarchs concerning ownership of several billion dollars of assets
    • The sale of an internet betting business to Bet on Sports embroiled in the shut down of that business by US authorities.
    • A substantial contractual dispute in Anguilla concerning a share sale contract
    • Advising on issues of jurisdiction and enforcement of foreign judgments in a substantial fraud claim
    • A dispute between Eastern European business partners, involving a commercial trust agreement
    • Acting for defendants concerned in an investment fund invested entirely with Madoff
    • Acting for investors in a dispute involving a BVI based private unit trust
    • Advising defendants in a professional negligence claim concerning a real estate unit trust
    • Acting for an offshore holding company in a banking contract dispute in Singapore and Switzerland
    • Advising in an option contract dispute involving shares of an Eastern European company
  • Mediation

    David is a qualified mediator and has been involved various mediations, especially in the area of substantial family business succession and governance disputes.

  • Trusts, Probate & Estates

    Noted by all the legal directories as a leading practitioner in this area, David’s experience is such that he has an extremely loyal client base and acts in many of the leading cases in this field. David has particular experience with family business succession and governance disputes, including their mediation and arbitration. Legal 500/2011 says he is “in a class of his own when dealing with offshore work“.

    Important cases include:

    • Green v Gaul [2007] 1 WLR 591 (Court of Appeal – limitation of actions)
    • Republic of Pakistan v Zardari [2006] EWHC 2411 (challenge to jurisdiction, fraud, bribery, company winding up)
    • Wolff v Wolff [2004] STC 1633 (mistake)
    • Schmidt v Rosewood Trust [2003] 2 AC 709 (Privy Council on appeal from the Isle of Man) (beneficiary rights to information)
    • Re Mackinnon (2005) (sham trusts)
    • Re Esteem Settlement [2004] WTLR 1 (validity of trusts: sham, lifting the veil and remedial constructive trusts)
    • Re Esteem Settlement [2001] JLR 7 (discretionary distribution to discharge a beneficiary’s creditor)
    • Re The S Settlement (2001) 4 ITELR 206 (criteria for seeking directions to trustees)
    • Re Rabaiotti Settlement [2000] JLR 46 (trusts and matrimonial disputes; right to information)
    • Kellar v Williams [2000] 2 BCLC 390 (Privy Council on appeal from the Turks & Caicos Islands – company law: whether a receipt constituted a loan or contributed capital)
    • Re Stravelakis 1999-01 MLR 668 (Isle of Man – sham trusts; jurisdiction)

    Current and recent matters also include

    • Acting for a Russian beneficiary in relation to his exclusion from a major Cayman trust.
    • Advising Channel Islands trustees in connection with a fraud claim involving an Eastern European mining group
    • Major multi-jurisdictional trust dispute concerning several billion dollars of assets in London, Gibraltar and Lichtenstein
    • Advising various offshore trustees in connection with defective appointments and discharges as trustee
    • US$100m fraud committed against an offshore trust structure and involving proceedings in Switzerland, New York, BVI, Bermuda and England
    • Claims as to the validity of trusts and the ownership of assets situated in BVI and Cayman
    • A matrimonial claim from Hong Kong against assets of a BVI trust
    • A claim for removal of trustees of a BVI based unit trust
    • Challenges to the validity and construction of a $800 mio BVI trust
    • A trust and company control dispute in Guernsey involving the removal of a committee of protectors
    • A trust and company dispute the Cayman Islands concerning a group of Chinese and Hong Kong Companies

    David has assisted various Caribbean countries on drafting trust and company legislation including Antigua (company law), the Turks & Caicos Islands (fraudulent dispositions and limited liability companies), and the British Virgin Islands (assisting on the drafting of the 2004 BVI Business Companies Act and recent amendments to its trust law). Most recently, David has been retained to advise on and draft amendments to Bahamas statute law to abolish perpetuities, introduce new features to its trust law and to provide for the arbitration of trust disputes.

    David is an editor of International Trust Laws (Jordans), and a member of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Recommendations

Chambers & Partners 2016 recommends David for traditional as well as commercial Chancery and his offshore practice. Said to be ‘a real technical trusts lawyer‘, clients consider David to be ‘an extremely thoughtful chap with a very wide knowledge, not just of the technicalities of the law, but also of the commercial considerations at play in cases. He has his finger on the pulse‘. Instructing solicitors say that ‘he has the quiet authority of someone who has thought through all the angles. He puts his tremendous experience to good use‘.

Legal 500 2015 also recommends him for private client: trusts and probate, referring to the fact that he is ‘very knowledgeable on trust law and the offshore world, and very pleasant to work with‘.

Chambers Global 2016 recommends David for Dispute Resolution – Commercial Chancery, Offshore and Private Wealth – Trusts. The editorial refers to the fact that he ‘is very thorough and leaves no stone unturned‘, with commentators agreeing that ‘he has a fantastic knowledge of trusts law and a fantastic knowledge of all the offshore jurisdictions‘.

David is recommended in the Citywealth Leaders List 2015 as a Prominent Contentious Trusts Barrister and Who’s Who Legal 2016 recommends him for private client work, praising his “strong advocacy” and “eye for detail“.

Academic history

LLB, Nottingham

Editor of International Trust Laws (Jordans)

Appointments

Accredited mediator

Professional memberships

  • Academician of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), serving on the International Committee