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David Young

David Young

Call: 1986

T: 0207 520 6000    E: chambers@18rlc.co.uk

David is a highly accomplished barrister, who has consistently defended in high profile complex criminal trials. He provides strong representation to his clients, both internationally and nationally. He is the only UK counsel instructed to lead for the defence in the Hariri assassination case before The Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Hague [2011-2020]. In the 18 August 2020 judgment from the Trial Chamber the accused whose interests he represented (Assad Sabra), was acquitted of all charges. Between 2018 to 2019 he was also instructed, in the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in the Hague, on a War Crimes case.

In 2020 he was appointed the ‘Director of International Affairs’ for the Criminal Bar Association for England and Wales. David is also Co-Chair of Red Lion Chambers International Practice Group.

In the UK he defends in, and advises on, cases across the whole spectrum of criminal matters. His criminal defence work includes murder, terrorism and organised crime. He also advises and defends in serious fraud and regulatory cases.

International Representation
International Criminal LawExtraditionAssociated International Legal Work

In 2010 David was instructed as a legal consultant by the Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for the Lebanon for the purposes of a mission to Beirut. From 2012 to date he has been lead Defence Counsel before The Special Tribunal for Lebanon based in The Hague. In 2018 he was appointed as Counsel in a second case in the Hague, which is currently before another of the International courts. David is the Co-Chair of Red Lion Chambers’ International Practice Group.

  • Prosecutor v Ayyash and others (2011-2020) Assigned lead counsel for Assad Sabra, one of five alleged Hezbollah supporters accused of involvement in the assassination of Rafic Hariri (the former Prime Minister of Lebanon) with high explosives. Sabra was also charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, the pre-meditated intentional homicide of 22 persons, and the attempted homicide of 231 others. David led a multi-lingual defence team of respected international lawyers, and was based in the Hague between 2012 to 2018. The proceedings possessed many features which were unique to international criminal law. In addition to being the first In Absentia proceedings since Nuremberg,The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is the first tribunal of its kind, of international character, to prosecute terrorist crimes. The trial started on 16 January 2014, and on 21 September 2018 the Trial Chamber closed the trial proceedings, and retired to begin deliberations on verdicts. The court works in Arabic, French and English.
  • Appointed as Amicus Curiae Counsel before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in the Hague on a War Crimes case (2018-2019)
  • Advising a United Nations Counter-Terrorism agency (the UNODC) on the presentation and use of digital evidence before the International courts, and on the use of virtual technology in the international courts (2019, and in 2020)
  • Spoke at the televised Press Briefing on the death of Ms. Alia Abdul Nour in custody in the UAE (30 May 2019). Ms Nour had been serving a sentence of ten years imprisonment for terrorism offences. United Nations Rapporteurs found her to have been tortured in custody, and deprived of basic human rights.
  • Prosecutor v Ali Adorus (2014-2015) Advised as a consultant member of an international defence team. The accused faced allegations of terrorism in relation to events in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

David also has considerable experience of defending major terrorist trials in the UK, which have involved international law issues. See below:

  • R v L (2008-2009) Successfully defended first prosecution of Tamil Tiger related terrorism in the UK and first under s.12 Terrorism Act 2000.The defence made a successful pre-trial interlocutory appeal and the prosecution elected not to proceed. The decision is a guideline judgement on the timing of AG’s consents to prosecute: [2009] EWCA Crim 700.
  • Secretary of State v JK (2009) Successfully represented a SIAC case against the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Client was one of a number of young Pakistani nationals in Manchester and Liverpool arrested in Operation Pathway relating to the Terrorism Act 2000. Proceedings against him on grounds of national security were discharged and he was released from custody.
  • R v Khan (2008-2009) Defended the principal defendant accused of organising and maintaining an Al Qaida website and seeking to recruit terrorists for Pakistan terror training camps and suicide missions. He had originally been linked to a 16 strong alleged Al Qaida group operating in North America, who were initially accused of plotting to assassinate the Canadian Prime Minister. He was said to have possessed the largest electronic collection of terrorist materials ever found by the UK’s anti-terrorist squad.
  • R v SF & others (2003- 2005) Led junior in successful defence of 9 month conspiracy to murder as part of an Algerian terrorist cell. The defendant’s premises had allegedly been used to prepare and produce Ricin poison. The case was said to be the first in the UK’s ‘war on terror’, in part because the principal defendant, Kamel Bourgass (an alleged Al Qaida member) was convicted of the murder of DC Steven Oakes.
  • R v Safi & others (2000-2002) Defended an Afghan hijacker in both Old Bailey trials (junior acting alone in the second trial). The armed hijackers were members of an underground Afghani pro-democracy group during the Taliban rule, and had diverted the plane from Afghanistan to England via Russia, culminating in the longest ever hostage siege (at Stansted Airport). The client’s defence was duress of circumstance. He successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the jury were misdirected on the law of duress of circumstance.

  • Iqtidar Dara v Germany (2009) Junior counsel in High Court extradition appeal of an appellant wanted under a European Arrest Warrant for allegedly exporting the component parts of a nuclear weapon to Pakistan.

  • Panellist Speaker on the ICC/STL’s Webinar on Prosecution Disclosure issues, 2020
  • Panellist Speaker on the UNODC Counter-terrorism Conference on the use of virtual technology in terrorism cases, 2020;
  • Panellist Speaker on the Lugano Film Festival Conference on Covid-19’s impact upon the International Courts;
  • Presenting international advocacy training at the international criminal court for the International criminal court bar association, Speaker 2019
  • Chaired the Chambers International Seminar on “The ISIL trials in Iraq- Legal and Practical Challenges”, 2019
  • United Nations Counter-Terrorism workshop on Iraq for the UNODC, Vienna, Speaker, 2019
  • United Nations Counter-Terrorism workshop on Iraq for the UNODC, Hague, Speaker, 2019
  • Re-elected to the Executive Council of The International Criminal Court Bar Association, Hague: 2018
  • Fundamentals on Defence Rights before International Courts, The Siracusa International Institute, Sicily, Speaker 2017
  • Kosovan Bar Association, Pristina: training conference for lawyers on practice before the international courts: Speaker 2017
  • 4th Meeting of Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts, Middle Temple: Speaker, 2016
  • Elected to the Executive Council Committee for the new International Criminal Court Bar Association by the ICC list Counsel, Hague: 2016
  • 3rd Meeting of the International Defence Offices in Geneva: Geneva Bar and the University of Geneva: 2015
  • Lecturing with Emile Aoun at Universite de Paris 2, Pantheon-Assas, on the practice of ICL, before the ICL masters students of Professor Olivier de Frouville, Professor of International Law at Paris 2: 2015
  • 2015- Second Meeting of the Defence Offices for the International Courts at the Peace Palace, Moderator, The Hague
  • Abuse of Process in criminal proceedings (Bloomsbury) 4th ed. (2014) co-author (The work includes the first published chapter on abuse of process before the International criminal courts.)
  • Special Tribunal for Lebanon- Challenges for the Defence’: CBA Seminar, Inner Temple 2013 Speaker with Maitre Francois Roux
  • Speaker at the Annual Conference of the International Criminal Defence Lawyers of Germany in Berlin: 2013
  • “Revolution in the air” Panellist at Chatham House Conference on the Arab Spring, 2012
  • Speaker at the Beirut Bar Association, Beirut, on behalf of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s Defence Office: 2010
  • Speaker at the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers Conference on International Criminal Law: 2010
  • CBA representative to the Bar Council’s International Committee: 2008-2010
  • Organised the first CBA Conference on the International Criminal Court: 2007
  • The State’s Reaction to Terrorism; A Tripartite Comparison: 2006 co-organiser with German and French Embassies, DAAD, UCL, Kings College London, and L’Institut Francais
  • CBA Response to the Home Office’s Draft Code of Practice for the Terrorism Act 2000: 2006:CBA working party member
  • 2005- Member of UK’s Team of Barristers at The International Moot Court in The Hague;
  • 2003-2007 Member Bar European Group Committee ;
  • 2002- Speaker at The Bar Conference on ‘European Criminal Law’, London;
  • 2001- Speaker at ‘L’Ecole Nationale de la Magistrature’, Paris, for the Bar Council of England and Wales;


Serious and Organised CrimeFraud and RegulatoryAdvisory work in the Cannabis sector

  • R v Davis Defence of murder by shooting involving witness anonymity.
  • R v D and others Defended £64m importation of Columbian cocaine (then the largest seizure) landed by boat. Following a successful appeal, after a trial and re-trial, the proceedings were successfully stayed as an abuse of process.
  • R v Kholi Defence of the murder of an 18 year old girl, who had been kidnapped and raped. Kholi was extradited to the UK from India.
  • R.v Jetmir Bucpapa Defended appeal against sentence for involvement in £53m Securitas Depot armed robbery in Kent, the UK’s largest armed robbery. Appeal allowed in part.
  • R v A and others. Successfully defended a ‘no body’ murder case. Client had been accused of luring the victim to a house where he was tortured, killed, and dismembered: only the victim’s thumb was found.
  • R v E. Successfully defended a multiple rape and kidnap relating to two complainants.
  • R v A Defended a conspiracy to supply several tonnes of cannabis. Acquitted.
  • R.v. R Defended an Essex gangland conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
  • R.v. B Defended kidnap, torture and firearms offences. Client acquitted on identification arguments.
  • R v Ramezanzadeh. Defended 12 armed robberies and an armed hostage siege in central London. Successfully resisted substantial confiscation claim on technical POCA arguments.

  • R v Donnan Leading defence junior in a £35m MTIC/money laundering fraud. Contested £12m POCA proceedings.
  • R v A Successfully defended as Leading Junior an accountant indicted for an alleged £14m conspiracy to defraud in a Ponzi case.
  • R v BSucessfully defended a company director on a major VAT fraud.
  • R v Suresh Kumar Leading junior defending a politician on corruption charges following a fake sheikh undercover sting operation[ acquitted on part of indictment]
  • NCA investigation. Advising former DS John Davidson, who was the main subject of a 4 year NCA corruption investigation into alleged police corruption in the Stephen Lawrence investigation, who was cleared of any involvement in corruption or misconduct. [PRESS REPORT [The London Economic]]
  • SFO investigation Advised international law firm on defence issues relating to a SFO investigation.
  • British Boxing Board of Control v B & others. Representing Boxing promoters, managers and boxers in disciplinary proceedings.
  • R v A. Successfully defending in mortgage fraud proceedings.
  • RSW v S Successfully defending an Environmental law prosecution against a Company Director.

  • Advising UK medicinal cannabis investment companies, and their international corporate groups, on admissions to the NEX Exchange Growth Market, advising the first companies successfully admitted to the NEX;
  • Advising a UK Pharmaceutical Company on the UK medicinal cannabis sector.
  • Advising a Canadian Corporation, licensed in the Canadian cannabis industry, in relation to major investments in UK businesses.
  • Advising on and drafting Suspicious activity reports in relation to Proceeds of Crime Act circumstances
  • Advising City law firms on the UK’s legal control measures applicable to cannabis, and cannabinoids.
  • Pro Bono Advisor to Ms. Carly Barton, the medicinal cannabis campaigner behind “Carlys Amnesty”.

What the Directories Say

“A very competent, experienced and professional barrister. He is a measured and thoughtful lawyer who is well respected by the Judges and opposing Counsel.” Legal 500 2021

“He has an eye for detail in preparing the case and a persuasive manner in court.” Chambers UK 2021

“Good on his feet, very clear and cautious in a good way when handling very technical cases. He is a good case manager of large teams and deals with volumes of material well.” Chambers UK 2020

“He is a very good team manager who is extremely well prepared at all times, and is a very persuasive advocate”. Chambers UK 2019

“He has significant experience of handling international criminal matters” Chambers UK 2019

“He is an excellent barrister and a good team manager who always knows his cases inside out.” Chambers UK 2018

“Handles defence investigations in a skillful, persuasive and tenacious manner” Chambers UK 2018

“Highly skilled advocate” who attracts praise for his “very appealing way with judges” Chambers UK 2018

“He takes great pride in being the most prepared person in the courtroom” Legal 500 2017


Financial Times Europe Innovative Lawyers Awards 2019 (for his Defence work at The Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Hague).

British Legal Awards 2019 (for his Defence work at The Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Hague).

Publications, Lectures and Training

Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings, Bloomsbury Professional, 4th edition (2014) co-author


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BA Hons, LLM London University


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Scottish by birth, married with four children. Lives in London and in the Hague.

Professional Appointments

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The Bar European Committee (2003-2007)

Bar Council’s International Committee (2008- 2010)

Bar Human Rights Committee (2016)

International Criminal Court Bar Association Executive Council (2016-2017)Criminal Bar Association Committee (2007-2010)

Member of the Bar Council’s International Committee (2008- 2010)

Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (2016)

International Criminal Court Bar Association Executive Council (2016)

International Criminal Court list of Defence Counsel, The Hague


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English and French