Sir David Williams QC

Present Position

Barrister and Arbitrator, Bankside Chambers, Auckland - Door Tenant at Essex Court Chambers, London - Part-time Judge - Chief Justice, Cook Islands - Justice of Dubai International Financial Centre

Professional Experience

Sir David Williams QC is a barrister and arbitrator with over 30 years’ experience as counsel in commercial litigation before New Zealand and overseas Courts and Arbitral Tribunals including numerous New Zealand cases heard in the Privy Council, London, England. Based on this extensive and broad-based commercial litigation background, and after serving as a Justice on the High Court of New Zealand, he has developed a strong emphasis on international commercial arbitration and investment treaty arbitration, mainly as an arbitrator but occasionally as counsel.

Career Summary

  • Former litigation partner, Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co.
  • Auckland Judge of the High Court of New Zealand 1992-1994
  • Chief Justice of the Cook Islands High Court (2005-)
  • Member of the Cook Islands Court of Appeal
  • Teaches commercial arbitration


Numerous appointments as arbitrator in commercial domestic arbitrations and in over 65 international commercial arbitrations and investment treaty arbitrations plus numerous Court of Arbitration for Sports arbitrations.


  • Environmental and Resource Management Law in New Zealand First Edition 1980; Second Edition 1997;
  • Contributing author Duncombe & Heap (eds), Australasian Dispute Resolution (1995) Sydney, LBC Information Services;
  • The Laws of New Zealand Arbitration
  • Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration, First Edition 2011
  • Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration, Second Edition 2017

Speciality Areas

  • International law
  • Investment
  • Treaty arbitration claims
  • Construction contracts
  • Commercial contract disputes
  • Infrastructure or development projects
  • Oil and gas concessions
  • Joint ventures
  • Licensing disputes
  • Insurance and reinsurance


  • LLB, University of Auckland Law School, 1965
  • LLM, Harvard Law School, 1966
  • Queens Council, 1987 -
  • FAMINZ (Arb), Fellow (Arbitration) of the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand
  • AMINZ Panel of Arbitrators
  • FCIArb, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK)