David is a leading independent arbitrator, having previously been a partner at B. Cremades y Asociados in Madrid, Spain.
He has been acting for many years as sole, chair or party-appointed arbitrator under the rules of ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC, AAA, LCIA, WIPO, Madrid Court of Arbitration, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a variety of seats including London, Madrid, New York, Paris, Washington DC, Miami and Geneva.
His expertise includes Investor state, construction & infrastructure projects and commercial disputes as well as intellectual property, mergers & acquisitions and joint venture disputes.
He is an accredited UK mediator and a former member of the ICSID Panel of Conciliators.
David has been based in Madrid for over 20 years and has a particular focus on disputes in Spain and Latin America.
He is fluent in Spanish and English and is a national of New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
David J.A. Cairns acts as arbitrator in investor-state disputes arising from bilateral investment treaties or investment agreements. His work has covered, amongst other issues, treaty interpretation, the definition of ‘investment’, standards of treatment in international investment law (expropriation, fair and equitable treatment, legitimate expectations), illegality in investment, denial of justice, the protection of intellectual property in international law, disputes between state entities and joint venture parties, the interface of investor rights and the power to regulate, international trusts, the relationship between contractual and treaty rights, compensation, annulment, and procedural questions relating to the interpretation and application of the ICSID Convention and Arbitration Rules.
David has been appointed as the presiding arbitrator in two ICSID arbitrations arising from infrastructure projects in Peru (Metro de Lima Línea 2 S.A. v. Republic of Peru (ICSID Case No. ARB/17/3; Desarrollo Vial de los Andes S.A.C.v. Republic of Peru (ICSID Case No ARB/20/18)), as well as in an investor-State arbitration pursuant to the Kuwait-Turkey BIT administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration pursuant to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
He has also been appointed as a member of the tribunal in a NAFTA arbitration pursuant to the ICSID Additional Facility Rules (Lion Mexico Consolidated L.P. v. United Mexican States (ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/15/2)) and in another PCA-administered arbitration pursuant to the Switzerland-Bolivia BIT. He has previously acted as an arbitrator in an investment arbitration pursuant to the Spain-Cuba BIT.
Earlier in this career he acted as counsel in an ICSID arbitration arising from an infrastructure project in Honduras (Elsamex SA c. Republic of Honduras ICSID Case No. ARB/09/4), and in ICSID annulment proceedings in relation to concession contracts in Argentina (Compañía de Aguas del Aconquija SA y Vivendi Universal c. Republic of Argentina, ICSID Case No. ARB/97/3) and Venezuela (Blue Bank International & Trust (Barbados) Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (ICSID Case No. ARB/12/20)).
David was a member of the ICSID Panel of Conciliators from 2011 to 2017.
Construction & Infrastructure Projects
During his extensive career, David has represented clients and acted as an arbitrator in a wide range of construction and engineering disputes, particularly in road, rail and telecommunications infrastructure projects, heavy plant construction, and electricity generation. He has acted in dispute board proceedings under the FIDIC forms. He is accustomed to disputes involving substantial and complex expert evidence on issues such as delay or damages.
His experience covers all the typical issues involved in construction and engineering disputes, such as ground conditions, design, defective construction, delay, variations, cost overruns, project management, non-payment, and termination. It also includes the broader contractual issues that arise in the construction context, such as joint venture, procurement or subcontracting disputes, or calls on bonds and guarantees. He has examined concession contracts from both the construction and investment protection perspectives.
His experience includes major infrastructure projects, particularly in his specialist region of Latin America where his cases have included State parties and raised issues such as the implications of the funding model (for example, PPP or disaster relief) for the obligations of the parties, or the concurrent application of contractual rights and local administrative law. He is fluent in Spanish and English, and in both the common law and continental legal traditions.
International Commercial Arbitration
David’s commercial experience has covered all types of contractual disputes, including construction and infrastructure projects, corporate acquisitions, joint ventures, international sale of goods, licensing and distribution, and intellectual property.
He has received appointments as an arbitrator in commercial disputes under a wide range of institutional rules, including the rules of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the international division of the American Arbitration Association (ICDR-AAA), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Court of Arbitration of Madrid, the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He has also issued three expert determinations pursuant to ICANN’s new gTLD program.
- President of an ICSID Tribunal appointed by the Parties in an investment arbitration arising from a DFBOT (design-finance-build-operate-transfer) concession contract for a major transport infrastructure project in Lima (Metro de Lima Linea 2 S.A. v Republic of Peru (ICSID Case No. Arb/17/3).
- President of an ICSID tribunal in an arbitration relating to a highway concession in Peru (Desarrollo Vial de los Andes S.A.C. v. Republic of Peru (ICSID Case No. ARB/20/18));
- President of an Investor-State tribunal Established pursuant to the Kuwait-Turkey BIT and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.
- President of ICC Tribunal in an arbitration arising from the acquisition of a Spanish banking entity, with the seat at Madrid and subject to Spanish law.
- President of ICC Tribunal in an arbitration arising from a joint venture in the technology sector with the seat at New York and subject to the laws of the State of Delaware.
- President of an ICC Arbitration Tribunal in a dispute between Mexican and North American parties under New York law arising from a real estate joint venture in Mexico.
- President of an ICDR-AAA Tribunal in a licensing and distribution dispute subject to New York law between US and Chilean parties and relating to the telecommunications sectors in various Latin American jurisdictions.
- President of an Arbitral Tribunal established pursuant to the rules of the Arbitration Foundation of South Africa (AFSA), subject to English Law and with a seat at Johannesburg.
- President of an ICC Arbitration Tribunal in a dispute between Mexican and Italian parties arising from a joint venture in the manufacturing sector in Mexico.
- President of an Arbitral Tribunal pursuant to the Rules of the Court of Arbitration of Madrid in a construction arbitration relating to biomass plant in Huelva.
- President of an ICC Tribunal in a dispute arising from a pharmaceuticals joint venture under Spanish law.
- President of an ICC Tribunal in a dispute arising from an acquisition transaction in the insurance sector under Spanish law.
- President of an ICC Tribunal in an arbitration arising from a warranty insurance policy in relation to the acquisition of a Spanish corporation by a Dutch investor.
- President of an Arbitral Tribunal under the rules of the Court of Arbitration of Madrid in an arbitration relating to the termination of a distribution contract in the consumer healthcare sector under Spanish law.
- Arbitrator appointed in an LCIA Arbitration arising from the sale and purchase of a nickel mining company in the Dominican Republic, subject to English law but also raising complex issues of local law.
- Arbitrator appointed pursuant to the Switzerland-Bolivia BIT and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules (PCA Case No. 2021-05 – Zurich Insurance Company Ltd & Zurich South America Invest AB v. Plurinational State of Bolivia).
- Arbitrator appointed pursuant to the ICSID Additional Facility Rules in relation to NAFTA claims arising from real estate developments in Mexico (Lion Mexico Consolidated L.P. v United Mexican States (ICSID Case No. ARB (AF)/15/2).
- Arbitrator in an ICC arbitration arising from the modernization of a refinery in Peru, subject to Spanish law and with the seat in Miami.
- Arbitrator in an investment arbitration pursuant to the Spain-Cuba BIT arising from a joint venture between an investor and a state entity.
- Sole arbitrator in two ICC arbitrations involving financial derivatives under Spanish law.
- Arbitrator in two LCIA arbitrations relation to long-term supply contracts in the renewable energy sector under English law.
- Sole arbitrator in an LCIA arbitration in a dispute arising from a Chinese investment in a Canadian technology corporation subject to the law of British Columbia.
- Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration relating to a joint venture contract governed by Spanish law for the participation in a public works contract in Qatar.
- Sole arbitrator in an ICC arbitration involving an International carriage of goods contract between German and Spanish companies.
- Sole arbitrator in an arbitration arising from a management buy-out contract between Swedish and Spanish parties pursuant to the Rules of the Corte de Arbitraje de Madrid.
- Sole arbitrator in a dispute arising from the acquisition by an Italian investor of a Spanish corporation in the Pharmaceutical sector.
- Sole arbitrator in a dispute under Spanish law between a foreign investor and a prior-owner of mining rights in relation to the re-opening of a major Spanish mine.
- Sole arbitrator in an arbitration relating to the termination of a real estate joint venture in Cape Verde subject to Spanish law.
- Arbitrator appointed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in ten CAS arbitrations, particularly relating to football disputes involving transfer agreements, agents remuneration, training compensation, and football club insolvency.
- Sole arbitrator in four arbitrations relating to domain name rights pursuant to the WIPO.
- Fellow and Chartered Arbitrator, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London
- Member, London Court of International Arbitration
- Madrid International Arbitration Centre (MIAC)
- Panel of Arbitrators of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre
- ICC National Committees, New Zealand & United Kingdom
- Member of the ICDR Panel of International Arbitrators
- List of Arbitrators of the American Chamber of Commerce of Peru
- Society for Construction Law, London
- Club Español del Arbitraje, Madrid
- Australia-Spain Business Association, Madrid
- Universidad Carlos III de Madrid: Masters in International Advocacy programme
Advocacy and the Making of the Adversarial Criminal Trial, Oxford University Press, 1998.
Articles/Book Chapters Spanish Arbitral Law and Practice
National Report-Spain in The ICCA International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration (Kluwer Law International) Supplement No. 112, October 2020;
Spain’s Consolidated Arbitration Law (2012) Spain Arbitration Review, No. 13, 49-73 (translation of Ley 60/2003 de 23 de diciembre with 2009 and 2011 legislative amendments; previously published as Spain’s New Arbitration Act  7 International Arbitration Law Review 39-48; (2004) ASA Bulletin 695-721;
The Spanish Application of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (2006) 22 Arbitration International 573-595.
The Brave New World of Global Arbitration (2002) 3 The Journal of World Investment 173-210 (also published in Spanish as El Arbitraje en la Encrucijada entre la Globalizacion y sus Detractores);
Supreme Decree No. 28701: President nationalises all aspects of production and sale of hydrocarbons in Bolivia  9 International Arbitration L. R. N37-N42;
Introductory Note to Salini Costruttori S.p.A v The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Decision on Jurisdiction 44 ILM 569-572 (2005);
Confidentiality and State Party Arbitrations (2002) New Zealand Law Journal 125.
International Commercial Arbitration
Corruption, International Public Policy and the Duties of Arbitrators Dispute Resolution Journal, November 2003, 100-107;
Transnational Public Policy in International Arbitral Decision-Making: The Cases of Bribery, Money laundering, and Fraud in Kristine Karsten And Andrew Berkeley (Ed) Arbitration: Moneylaundering, Corruption and Fraud (ICC Publication 651, 2003) at 65-91 (also published in Spanish as Orden Público Transnacional en el Arbitraje Internacional (Cohecho, Blanqueo de Capitales y Fraude Contable);
Introductory Note to European Court of Justice: Allianz SpA v West Tankers Inc 48 ILM 485 (2009).
Arbitral Practice & Advocacy
Expertise in International Arbitration TDM 4 (2013), www.transnational-disputemanagement.com;
Advocacy and the Functions of Lawyers in International Arbitration in M. Á. Fernández-Ballesteros & David Arias Liber Amicorum Bernardo Cremades (Wolters Kluwer España, 2010) pp. 291-307;
Oral Advocacy and Time Control in International Arbitration in A. J. Van den Berg ed. Arbitration Advocacy in Changing Times (ICCA Congress Series No. 15, Kluwer Law International, The Netherlands, 2011) pp. 181-201;
Preparation for Cross-Examination Revista de Arbitragem e Mediacão, Vol. 34, 2012, pp.337-349.
Cross-Examination in International Arbitration: Is it Worthwhile? in Lawrence W. Newman & Ben H. Sheppard Jr. eds. Take the Witness: Cross-Examination in International Arbitration (Juris, 2010) pp. 223-242;
England’s Procedural Revolution and Procedures Under Woolf (2000) New Zealand Law Journal 323 and 395.