Sir David Richards was called to the Bar in 1974 and took Silk in 1992. Whilst at the Bar, Sir David’s principal area of practice was company law and corporate insolvency, including takeovers and mergers, restructuring, acquisitions, joint ventures, shareholder disputes, directors’ duties and governance, corporate regulation, but it extended to general commercial disputes, auditing and accounting and insurance and banking business transfers. While his practice was centred in London, he also advised in connection with proceedings and issues out of the UK and he appeared in the courts of Hong Kong, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. He sat as an arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration concerning a four-party international joint venture and gave expert evidence in court proceedings in the United States and in a Swiss-based arbitration.
He was appointed a deputy High Court Judge in 2001, a High Court Judge (Chancery Division) in 2003, a chairman of the Competition Appeal Tribunal in 2004 and chairman of the Insolvency Rules Committee from 2005 to 2015. He was the Chancery Supervising Judge for the Northern and North Eastern Circuits and Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster from 2008 to 2011. He was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal and made a Privy Counsellor in 2015. He retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in June 2021, and joined One Essex Court in November 2021 to practise as an arbitrator and legal expert.
Sir David continues to sit in the Court of Appeal as a retired Judge (part time appointment). He was elected a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in 2000 and Treasurer of the Inn for 2020-21. He served as Chairman of the Lincoln’s Inn Finance and General Purposes Committee from 2014 to 2019. He was a director of the International Insolvency Institute from 2015 to 2019 and co-chair of its Judicial Committee from 2012 to 2019.
In the Court of Appeal, Sir David gave the leading judgments, alone or with others, in a wide range of commercial and corporate cases, including international arbitration (Sabbagh v Khoury, Adactive Media v Ingrouille), jurisdictional challenges (Privatbank v Kolomoisky, Easy Rent A Car v Easy Group), international law (Law Debenture v Ukraine), company law (BTI 2014 v Sequana, Rossendale BC v Hurstwood Properties), lawful act duress (Times Travel v Pakistan International Airlines), rights under dematerialised bonds (Secure Capital v Credit Suisse), insurance business transfers (Prudential Assurance) and insolvency (Debenhams Retail).
As a High Court Judge, Sir David was the assigned judge for the administrations of T&N/Federal Mogul, Lehman Brothers and MF Global, giving many reported judgments in each. Other cases included shareholder disputes (Re Coroin: McKillen v Misland), schemes of arrangement (Telewest Communications, Cape plc, Vietnam Shipbuilding Co, Magyar Telecom BV), derivative contracts (Fondazione Enasarco v Lehman Brothers SA), Argentinian Government bonds (Knighthead Master Fund v BNY Mellon) and insolvency (HMRC v Football League).