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David Sawtell FCIArb


David specialises in construction, property and commercial disputes. 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 currently undertaking a part time PhD at the University of Cambridge, researching the taxonomic interface between construction law and property law.

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.

David has experience of advising in respect of, settling proceeds and appearing before the Dubai International Financial Centre courts. He has particular expertise in cases involving conflicts of law and contractual disputes in this jurisdiction. His recent experience includes a dispute arising out of an aircraft leasing agency agreement and for the return of sums held by a fiduciary.

He has considerable expertise in respect of a number of forms of alternative dispute resolution. He is regularly instructed in respect of construction adjudication disputes. He has successfully settled a number of claims at mediation. He is also instructed in respect of arbitrations arising from property and infrastructure disputes. He has also represented clients at joint settlement meetings. David is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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:

Gosvenor London Ltd v Aygun Aluminium UK Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2695 – led by Dr Tim Sampson for the Respondent in the Court of Appeal on the issue of adjudication enforcement, stays and allegations of fraud

Peacock and another v Imagine Property Developments Ltd [2018] EWHC 1113 (TCC) - 5-day trial in January 2018 in the TCC on the issue of option agreements and unjust enrichment / free acceptance

South v McGaan (QBD, March 2018) – appeal from TOLATA claim on the question of interest following week-long trial

Mulalley and Company Ltd v Regent Building Services Ltd [2017] EWHC 2962 (Ch) – setting aside a winding up petition in the context of an ongoing construction dispute and assignment of choses in action

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. Along with Richard Hayes, he is the author of ‘A Practical Guide to the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954: Commercial Tenancies’, published by Law Brief Publishing in 2017. David is the principal author of the two commercial litigation units for the Level 4 higher apprenticeships in legal services. He writes prolifically for leading practitioner journals. Some of his recent articles in the last few years include:

  • ‘Enrichment-based claims for a quantum meruit in construction disputes’, International Construction Law Review 2019, 36(1), 101-119 (comparison of how English, Australian, German and South African construction law approach a claim for a quantum meruit)
  • ‘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)
  • '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)

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 best performance in Module AL in MSc Construction Law
  • 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)


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
  • Property Bar Association
  • Chancery Bar Association
  • Society of Construction Law
  • Adjudication Society


Skiffing, rowing, and medieval and legal history.

News & Resources

Construction arbitration – a snapshot

Arbitration remains one of the most popular ways to resolve construction disputes, especially those arising out of transnational projects or where the participants come from different jurisdictions.

11th June 2019 Read more

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 FCIArb

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