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David Sawtell


David specialises in property, construction and commercial chancery work. He is frequently instructed in cases involving the development and use of land, buildings and property, as well as disputes involving serious commercial, insolvency and company law issues. He also has extensive experience of advising and drafting in professional negligence related proceedings in areas related to his core practice.

His clients appreciate his practical and approachable manner. He is, at the same time, a robust advocate with formidable experience of serious trials and interlocutory applications. His work is frequently legally complex, involving rapidly developing areas of the law such as unjust enrichment and equitable remedies in commercial disputes.

In 2017 David completed the MSc in Construction Law and Dispute Resolution at King's College, London, achieving a Distinction. He was awarded prizes for the best overall graduate, best dissertation, the best performance in the second-year examinations, and best performance in the Module AL construction technology examination.

David is regularly instructed in disputes in the High Court (including the TCC, the Chancery Division, the Queen’s Bench Division and the Companies Court), and serious multi-track disputes in the County Court. He is also regularly involved in construction disputes referred to adjudication. His work frequently has an international edge, involving cross border and overseas transactions and disputes. He has appeared in the Dubai International Financial Centre courts.

David speaks regularly at seminars and conferences. He has recently been engaged by CLT, MBL, LawNet and Professional Courses. He is also frequently published in leading practitioners’ journals. In 2017, along with Richard Hayes, he wrote ‘A Practical Guide to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954: Commercial Tenancies’ (published by Law Brief Publishing), placing a particular emphasis on the development aspects of commercial property.

Selected notable cases:

Mulalley and Company Ltd v Regent Building Services Ltd and another [2017] EWHC 2962 (Ch), [2017] All ER (D) 200 (Nov) – injunction restraining both a company and an individual from presenting a winding up petition based on disputed construction debts.

Pinisetty v Manikonda [2017] EWHC 838 (QB), [2017] All ER (D) 98 (Apr) – appeal on the question of level of certainty required for imposition of constructive trust to complete defective property transaction

Bichay v Bassaly (2016, Chancery Division) – three-day trial in the Chancery Division of proprietary estoppel and unpaid vendor’s lien involving alleged partnership involving financial transactions in California.

Ramanathan v Rudra [2016] EWHC 1062 (Ch) – issues of Pallant v Morgan equity, delay and laches arising from a property investment in the 1990s

Director of Border Revenue v F Lohmann GMBH [2016] UKFTT 185 (TC) – seizure of trailer unit passing across international borders and whether it should be restored

Trustees for the Methodist Church Purposes v Church Motor Company (Bromley CC, 2015) – 3 day trial arising out of the LTA 1954, including planning considerations

Carcillo v Great Western Allotment Association (FTT (Property Chamber), 2015) – at a trial of the applicant’s claim for adverse possession

Malialis v Malialis [2012] EWCA Civ 1748; [2013] 2 FLR 1216; [2013] Fam Law 390 – the effect of delay between trial and the handing down judgment in a case involving off shore assets and foreign registered companies.

Vaseeharan and AKV Garages (UK) Ltd v Uthayranjan [2010] EWHC 1083 (Ch) - recovery of allegedly misappropriated funds from the former manager of fuel service station business


David is heavily involved in practitioner texts and journals. He is currently engaged to write the forthcoming ‘A Practical Guide to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954’.

David is the principal author of the two commercial litigation units for the Level 4 higher apprenticeships in legal services. Unit 1 (Resolving a Commercial Dispute in England and Wales: Damar, 2014) and  Unit 2 (Tactics and Costs in Commercial Litigation) were published in 2014, and he was then engaged to update them.

He writes prolifically for leading practitioner journals, especially on property and commercial litigation issues. He also writes for Lamb Chambers on construction and property related issues.

  • ‘Constructive Trusts: More than words?’ Trusts and Estates Law and Tax Journal: July/August 2017
  • ‘Let me know before you go’ (2017) 71 Co LJ 11-13 (use of notification injunctions in commercial litigation)
  • ‘Planning the Use it Yourself’, Estates Gazette, 21 January 2017, 69 (co-authored with Alice Lane) (LTA 1954, section 30(1)(g) and planning issues)
  • ‘Partitions and vacant possession’, Solicitors Journal S.J. (2016) Vol.160 No.40 with Erol Topal
  • ‘A binary breakthrough’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2016) No.69 September/October 6-7 (use of predictive coding to assist e-disclosure)
  • ‘An air of finality’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2016) No.68 July/August 3-5 (attempts to bypass settlement disputes)
  • McDonald: settling unanswered questions’, Solicitors Journal S.J. (2016) Vol.160 No.27 Page 32 with Erol Topal
  • 'Injunctions: holding the balance', Procurement & Outsourcing Journal, May/June 2016 (recent trends in commercial interim injunctions)
  • 'Clear Skies? Comparing Arnold v Britton Rainy Sky SA v Koomin Bank'  Procurement & Outsourcing Journal, November/December 2015, 5-7 (interpretation of contracts)
  • 'Budget cuts', Commercial Litigation Journal, November/December 2015, 12-13 (costs budgeting)
  • ‘Take the money and don’t run’, Procurement and Outsourcing Journal (2015) Jul/Aug (application of good faith to the affirmation of a contract following a repudiatory breach)
  • 'Humble offerings' Commercial Litigation Journal (2015) No 61 May / June 2015 pages 3-5
  • ‘Budget cuts’, Commercial Litigation Journal Co. L.J. (2015) No.64 November/December Pages 12-13 (cost management and budgeting)
  • ‘Wrapped up in cotton?’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2015) No.63 September/October Pages 22-24 (good faith and affirming contracts after repudiatory breach)
  • ‘Humble offerings’, Commercial Litigation Journal Co. L.J. (2015) No.61 May/June Pages 3-5 (Part 36 offers)
  • ‘A Right Royal Dispute’ Commercial Litigation Journal (2015) No.60 March/April Pages 7-9
  • ‘Funding a losing battle’ Commercial Litigation Journal Co. L.J. (2014) No.58 November/December Pages 22-24 (the liability of off shore litigation funders for an order for non party orders for costs)
  • ‘Hot cross bun(ny)’ Commercial Litigation Journal Co. L.J. (2013) No.52 November/December (test for summary judgment applications)
  • ‘If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try again?’ Commercial Litigation Journal (2013) No.51 September/October (res judicata: issue and cause of action estoppel)
  • ‘Keeping the faith’ Commercial Litigation Journal (2013) No 51 September/October (contractual terms of good faith)
  • ‘Park Life’ Commercial Litigation Journal (2013) No 48 March/April (Wrotham Park damages)
  • ‘The Devil Is in the Detail: Pleading and Proving Allegations of Fraud’, PI Brief Update Law Journal, 16 February 2013
  • ‘Hold the cynicism’, New Law Journal, 11 January 2013, vol 163 No 7543 (evidential issues in fraudulent claims)
  • ‘An Unexpected Bill to Pay: Non-Party Costs Orders and Claims Management Companies’, PI Brief Update Law Journal, 16 November 2012
  • ‘Whose responsibility is it anyway? Duty to warn non-employees of criminal threats’, PI Brief Update Law Journal, 10 October 2012
  • ‘Lucky strike’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2012) No 44 July/August (Fairclough Homes v Summers [2012] UKSC 26 and striking out for abuse of process)
  • ‘Passing the buck’, Procurement and Outsourcing Journal (2012) No 6 May / June 2012 (non-delegable duties of care)
  • ‘Paying the price for leasehold disputes’, Solicitors Journal Vol 156 No 16 (24 April 2012)
  • ‘Look before you leap’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2011) No 40 November / December 2011 (on the law of the assumption of risk)
  • ‘Playing with Fire: meeting suspicious claims head-on’, Commercial Litigation Journal (2011) No 38 July / August 2011
  • ‘Telling a tall story’, Butterworths Civil Costs Newsletter, June 2011, p5 (costs implications of fraudulent claims)
  • ‘My big fat fraudulent claim’, New Law Journal, 29 April 2011, vol 161 No 7463, pp573-4

Further information

Public access

David is willing to undertake work on a public access basis.


  • 2017 MSc Construction Law and Dispute Resolution, King’s College London (Distinction)
  • 2005 Called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn)
  • 2004-5 Inns of Court School of Law, Bar Vocational Course (very competent)
  • 2003-4 City University, Post-graduate diploma in law (commendation)
  • 2002-3 Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, MPhil in Medieval History (distinguished performance)
  • 1999-02 Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, MA (Hons) in History (Part I: First, Part II: 2:1)


  • 2017: Society of Construction Law prize for best overall graduate MSc Construction Law; Society of Construction Law prize for best dissertation; Kings College Construction Law Association prize for best performance in the second-year exams
  • 2016: Bickerdike Allen award for the best performance in Module AL first-year examination in the King’s College, London MSc in Construction Law and Dispute Resolution
  • 2005: Sunley Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • 2004: Lord Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • 2002: AHRB scholarship in full for MPhil
  • 2001: Edward Lord North Scholarship (Peterhouse)


  • King’s College Construction Law Association 
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Society of Construction Law
  • Adjudication Society


Skiffing, rowing, and medieval and legal history.

News & Resources

The Court of Appeal blows the whistle on fresh evidence on appeal in a Part II LTA 1954 case: Clear Call Ltd v Central London Investments Limited [2016] EWCA Civ 1231

When a court is considering a tenant’s application for a grant of a new tenancy or a landlord’s opposition to the grant of such a tenancy under the provisions of Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, it is often deciding what terms will govern the future rather than considering what has happened in the past.

8th December 2016 Read more

More cranes on the London skyline, but for how long?

The Deloitte Office Crane Survey for Winter 2016 makes for some very interesting post-Brexit reading. Construction momentum in London has slowed, with 40 new schemes starting over the past six months, compared with 51 in the previous survey.

21st November 2016 Read more

Using computer technology to assist e-disclosure…

Using computer technology to assist with e-disclosure has always promised to reduce time and cost. For some years, computer software has been available to assist with the review process and now finally it is making an appearance in the UK.

4th October 2016 Read more
David Sawtell

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Year of Call 2005



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