David Quest KC

David Quest KC

Call: 1993 | Silk: 2013

"He is phenomenally clever and he's happy to roll up sleeves."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

"He's a wonderful, really personable silk who has a great way with the judges."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

"Calm, measured, very bright and quick on complex matters."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2022)

"David has a strong courtroom presence and a no-nonsense style of advocacy."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2022)

"David is calm and patient with clients."

- Legal 500 UK Bar (2022)

Practice Overview

David is joint Head of Chambers at 3VB. He is a leading commercial silk, with vast experience of complex, sensitive and high-value litigation and arbitration. He practises across the whole range of commercial disputes, with a focus on banking and finance; commercial and financial fraud; investments and joint ventures; international trade; technology and computing (including fintech, blockchain, cryptoassets and artificial intelligence); insurance and reinsurance; and professional negligence. He has a large offshore practice, particularly in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and the United Arab Emirates. He is a skilled advocate (in court and arbitration) and a formidable cross-examiner, with a particular facility for handling complex financial and technical material. He was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in 2023.

David is ranked in the 2023/2024 legal directories as a leading silk in in commercial dispute resolution, banking and finance, civil fraud, insurance, cryptocurrency/blockchain assets, offshore disputes, and Middle East work.

Reviews include:

  • “Highly intellectual: a brilliant mind, a creative thinker and a first-rate cross-examiner.”
  • “Just super-approachable and down to earth. No airs and graces. Excellent in court, he gets straight to the point and doesn’t mess about the edges.”
  • “A favourite KC – David is fearsomely bright and tenacious, and with an urbane courtroom style.”
  • “Incredibly nice, charming, experienced, and fearsomely intelligent.”
  • “A superb cross-examiner”
  • “Strong courtroom presence and a no-nonsense style of advocacy”.
  • “At the next level of fiercely intelligent. His forensic analysis of a case and the logic that he brings to bear really impress.”
  • “Down to earth, knowledgeable, works well in a team, and is excellent on his feet."
  • “He is the authority in digital assets and a visionary in the ”
  • “His written work is brilliant, very clear and concise. One of the leaders in crypto.”
  • “He approaches things with a sense of calm. He is undoubtedly at the forefront of the area, extremely knowledgeable and very pragmatic as well.”
  • “Incredibly hard working and highly numerate, making him a good choice for cases where numbers matter.”
  • “There is nothing about offshore banking that David doesn't know. And if there is, it's not worth knowing.”
  • “David is very calm with good judgement. He is always on top of the brief and is an effective cross-examiner.”
  • “He is a brilliant lawyer.”

David’s pre-eminence in banking litigation was recognised by the award of Banking Silk of the Year at the 2021 Chambers Bar Awards (having previously been awarded Banking Junior of the Year). He is a band 1/tier 1 ranked leading silk in Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

David is an expert in all aspects of commercial and retail banking, including investment advice and investment management, trade finance, product mis-selling, securities, syndications, bonds, derivatives, swaps (including under the ISDA Master Agreement), options, repos, structured financial products, and payment systems, as well as financial regulation.

Through his background in mathematics and computing, David has a particular interest in investment valuation and risk and other quantitative analytic issues; in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies; and in the use of artificial intelligence applications in financial advice and trading (see below under technology).

He is co-author, with Ali Malek KC, of Jack: Documentary Credits (4th ed, 2009), the principal practitioner’s textbook on that subject; he has also contributed chapters to Banking Litigation (4th ed, 2017) and Capital Markets in the Age of the Euro (2002). He has lectured in trade finance at the London School of Economics, where he was a visiting fellow and external examiner. He was appointed counsel and special advisor to the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in connection with their investigation into the collapse of HBOS.

Recent or current work includes acting:

  • for Barclays in its successful defence at trial of a £1.5bn claim by PCP Capital Partners relating to the raising of capital from Qatar and Abu Dhabi during the financial crisis (PCP v Barclays [2021] EWHC 307, one of the Lawyer’s top cases of 2020);
  • for Dubai Islamic Bank in a dispute with the collapsed NMC Healthcare group over the validity of security arrangements (ongoing, Abu Dhabi)
  • for Natwest in its successful defence at trial of a €1bn claim based on its alleged involvement in manipulation of Euribor in connection with Europe’s largest ever commercial property transaction (Marme v RBS [2019] EWHC 366);
  • for the National Bank of Kazakhstan in its successful defence at trial of cross-border enforcement proceedings of a $500m arbitration award (Stati v Kazakhstan [2020] EWHC 916);
  • for Banque Havilland in its defence of proceedings by the State of Qatar alleging a dishonest conspiracy with other international banks to injure Qatar as part of the Arab Blockade (now settled);
  • for Credit Suisse in its defence of an investment advice claim by Daily Express owner Richard Desmond (now settled)
  • for HSBC in its successful defence of FX trading claims (Jong v HSBC Monaco [2015] EWCA 1057);
  • for sovereign creditors of Argentina in a dispute with the bond trustee ([2015] EWHC 270).

David has acted in many of the largest, most complex and highest profile commercial fraud cases. Those have involved almost every aspect of financial dishonesty, including: bribery and corruption; forgery; cyber-crime and hacking; rogue trading; false accounting; falsification of trade and banking documents; share ramping; pyramid/Ponzi schemes; money laundering; and advance fee/prime bank instrument frauds. He has a deep knowledge of the use and misuse of accounting, banking and commercial practices, hacking and cyber fraud, and the use and misuse of cryptocurrencies. He is very experienced at obtaining or opposing asset freezing orders or other urgent injunctive relief and at enforcing or resisting asset recovery claims against in multiple jurisdictions.

Examples of recent or current instructions include acting:

  • for Barclays in its defence of a £1.5bn claim by PCP Capital Partners in deceit arising out the raising of capital during the financial crisis from Qatar and Abu Dhabi (one of the Lawyer’s cases of the year 2020);
  • for the Algosaibi family of Saudi Arabia in a multi-billion dollar fraud claim against the Saad group in the Cayman Islands; this was one of the largest fraud cases every litigated: the trial lasted more than 120 court days;
  • for Banque Havilland in its ongoing defence of a claim by the State of Qatar alleging a dishonest conspiracy with other international banks to injure Qatar as part of the Arab Blockade;
  • for RBS in its defence of a €1bn claim arising out of LIBOR manipulation in connection with the financing of Europe’s largest ever commercial property transaction (Marme v RBS [2019] EWHC 366);
  • for a large action group of investors in a claim to recover losses on fraudulent foreign exchange products sold by the collapsed CWM group (Cayman Islands);
  • for the owners of a central London property portfolio in a claim against property managers alleging bribery, breach of fiduciary duty and dishonest assistance;
  • for a currency broker in its defence of bribery claims;
  • for the SFO in recovering the proceeds of a £4m bribe paid to Chadian diplomatic officials ([2018] EWHC B8);
  • for Matthews International Corporation, an industrial technology business, in a claim arising out of a fraudulent demand on performance guarantees in connection with a Saudi Arabian project ([2016] EWHC 1477);
  • for Alphasteel, a steel company in liquidation, in a claim to recover misappropriated money from its former finance director.

David has also acted:

  • for the Fortress investment group in a fraud claim against the managers of its €200m investment fund;
  • for investors in Langbar, an AIM-listed vehicle which failed following the discovery that its reported assets of US$600m were entirely fictitious;
  • for the Iranian Ministry of Defence in a $120m fraud and corruption claim arising out of the purchase of a VIP aircraft.

David is one of the very few barristers with real expertise—both technical and legal—in cryptoassets. He is ranked as a band 1/tier 1 leading silk in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500, where he is described as:

  • extremely bright and able to give highly complex analysis in a very digestible format that speaks to the technology community. He is approachable, friendly on the advisory matters, but also fiercely intelligent.
  • “He is the authority in digital assets and a visionary in the field.”
  • “One of the leaders in crypto.”
  • “He is undoubtedly at the forefront of the area, extremely knowledgeable and very pragmatic as well.”

He is a lead author of the landmark UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT) Legal Statement on Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts, which sets out the law on the proprietary status of cryptoassets and the enforceability of smart contracts and has been endorsed by courts in England and around the world, and the UKJT Legal Statement on Digital Securities. He is also a lead author of the UKJT Digital Dispute Resolution Rules, a ground-breaking set of arbitration rules aimed at digital transactions. He continues to be closely involved in UKJT projects, and in the work of the University of Oxford Digital Assets Project.

David has a strong mathematical and computing background. He graduated in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge. He worked in the research and development centre of ICL Mainframe Systems (now part of Fujitsu) developing software for the automated design of computer logic and memory components, receiving an SB Marsh Scholarship. He has maintained a close and keen interest in computing and technology. He is fluent in Python.

For many years, David has written and lectured on legal aspects of cryptoassets and blockchain. He has spoken at conferences including Secured Transaction Law Reform (University of Leeds School of Law); Fraud, Asset Tracing and Recovery C5 (Geneva); London International Disputes WeekThe Future of Distributed Ledger Technology (University of Cambridge Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences); he also regularly gives educational seminars, at all levels, to law firms and other organisations (including the Serious Fraud Office).

Publications include:

  • Taking security over Bitcoin and other virtual currency (2015) 30 JIBFL 401
  • Robo-advice and artificial intelligence: legal risks and issues (2019) 34 JIBFL 6
  • Artificial intelligence and decision-making in financial services (2020) 6 JIBFL 366
  • Chapter on cryptocurrency in Financial Technology (FinTech) & Digital Commercial Law, OUP, forthcoming
  • Large language models: a legal liability minefield (2023) JIBFL

Recent fintech work includes:

  • Advising major financial institutions in connection with a blockchain-based trading platforms.
  • Acting for a cryptocurrency exchange in a dispute with customers
  • Acting for cryptocurrency lender Nexo in a dispute with its former director concerning the ownership of c.£30m of cryptoassets.

While fintech is a particular interest, David practice covers the whole range of technological and industrial disputes. He has previously acted, in court and arbitration, in cases concerning failed or cancelled software/hardware projects; telecommunications, satellites, oil and gas exploration, power generation, energy infrastructure, and chemical engineering.

Other significant commercial cases:

  • Lead counsel for the Renova group in an ongoing $1bn investment/joint venture dispute to be tried in the British Virgin Islands;
  • Acting for a management company in a termination dispute with the owners of one of the largest UK residential skyscrapers (Atlas v Greengate [2020] EWHC 366).
  • Acting for Barclays in its defence of a breach of confidence claim arising out of the acquisition of a carbon trading business (CF Partners v Barclays [2014] EWHC 3049);

David acts in all kinds of insurance disputes, for or against insureds, insurers, reinsurers and retrocessionaires, brokers and coverholders. He is familiar with the operation of the main insurance markets, including Lloyd’s, having been instructed variously for members’ agents, managing agents, syndicate auditors, brokers, syndicates and individual names.

David’s professional negligence practice is focused on lawyers, accountants, actuaries and brokers. A particular area of expertise is in relation to professional conflicts of interest: he was junior counsel in the House of Lords in Prince Jefri v KPMG, the leading case in the area, and in a number of subsequent cases, and has often been called on to act for or advise professional firms or their clients where a potential conflict has arisen.

A significant part of David’s practice involves arbitration rather than litigation. He has represented clients in major arbitrations under various institutional rules, including ICC and LCIA, in various countries. He was previously a supervisor and external examiner for commercial arbitration dissertations at the London School of Economics.

Winner: UK Bar Awards 2023
The Lawyer Awards 2022: Chambers of the Year