Perry Brown
    Perry Brown
    Senior Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6206
    Tommie Drury
    Tommie Drury
    Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7419 6203
    Matthew Evans
    Matthew Evans
    Assistant Practice Manager
    +44 (0)20 7691 2424
    Contact the Practice Managers

    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.

    Areas of experience

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    • 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
    • International & Offshore

      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.

    • 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.

    Other information

    • Recommendations

      Chancery: Commercial

      Chambers & Partners

      “Has a fantastic knowledge of trust law and offshore jurisdictions.” (2022 – UK and Global)

      “An authoritative practitioner who really knows his stuff. He has a wealth of knowledge for all things trusts-related.” (2021 – UK and Global)

      Chancery: Traditional

      Chambers & Partners

      David Brownbill QC is a highly respected silk whose broad traditional chancery practice includes frequent instructions in complex matters both onshore and offshore. He is also noted for the depth of his technical knowledge. Strengths: “Thinks outside the box and brings great creativity to his analysis.” (2022)

      David Brownbill QC is highly respected by both peers and instructing solicitors. “He is a highly intelligent individual who can see straight to the heart of issues in a matter and easily deal with it. His advocacy skills are also impressive and he can help the judges understand the issues in a case in the most clear and efficient way,” explains a source, who adds: “It is a great pleasure to work with him and I would have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone.” (2021 – UK and High Net Worth)

      Offshore

      Chambers & Partners

      David Brownbill QC is a natural choice for the most complex and contentious trusts litigation. He is frequently called upon to handle work in the Channel Islands, the BVI and the Cayman Islands. His specialism lies in multi-jurisdictional and high-value traditional and commercial chancery work. Brownbill is particularly sought after for claims arising out of liquidation and insolvency. Strengths: “He is committed, cordial, and it is a fantastic experience working with him.” “David is really great. He’s been very good at offshore work and legislative changes.” (2022 – UK and Global)

      Strengths: “Extremely thorough and delightful to work with.” “Very technically gifted.” “Very bright, a real pleasure to work with.” (2021 – UK and Global)

      Legal 500

      ‘A calm advocate and a real leader in the field.’ (2021)

      Private Client: Trusts and Probate

      Chambers & Partners

      David Brownbill QC is noted for his strong track record in private client litigation and has specific expertise in trust law. He is the editor of leading textbook ‘International Trust Laws’ and is often instructed in high-profile offshore disputes. His expertise also extends to trust issues in the context of investment funds. Strengths: “He is an excellent technical trusts lawyer who really gets into the weeds of cases. He is very, very good at getting his head across the important detail in a case.” (2022 – UK and Global)

      Strengths: “Easy to chat to, very engaging, thorough and someone who thinks through all the issues very well.” “He is technically absolutely excellent.” (2021 – Global)

      Legal 500

      ‘Is very knowledgeable, technical, detailed and thorough. He is a persuasive and calming advocate and a real leader in the field.’ (2021)

      David is recommended in the Citywealth Leaders List 2019 as a Prominent Contentious Trusts Barrister and Who’s Who Legal 2019 recommends him for as a global leader in 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