David Young

Call: 1986

  • Email
  • Direct phone

An enormously experienced and extremely persuasive leading barrister. He is a joy to work with.

Chambers UK (2022)
David Young

Personal profile

David Young is a highly accomplished barrister, who has consistently defended in high profile complex International criminal trials. He provides strong representation to his clients, both internationally and nationally.

In 2020 he was appointed Lead Counsel for one of the four accused charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in the Hague, where he leads a team of international defence lawyers preparing for contested trial proceedings.

Previously he was 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 18th August 2020 judgment from the STL Trial Chamber the accused (Assad Sabra), whose interests he represented, was acquitted of all charges. Between 2018 to 2019 he was also appointed as Counsel in the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in the Hague, on another war crimes case.

He is the current Director of International Affairs for the Criminal Bar Association for England and Wales, having been appointed in 2020. David is co-chair of Red Lion Chambers’ International team of barristers.

In the UK he defends in, and advises upon, cases across the spectrum of criminal and regulatory matters.


An enormously experienced and extremely persuasive leading barrister. He is a joy to work with.

― Chambers UK (2022)

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)

International Criminal Law

Since 2011 David has practised in International Criminal Law in three of the Hague’s international courts and is at the forefront of developments in this rapidly growing area of the criminal law. The Kosovo and Lebanon cases in particular have attracted global attention from lawyers, academics and the media, where the court proceedings are streamed for broadcast. While his expertise and reputation is primarily as a robust trial lawyer, he is also consulted widely on international advisory matters, of a confidential nature; recently on matters concerning human rights violations, counter-terrorism, and on the International Court of Justice.

Featured cases

  • Prosecutor v Thaci and others (2020 to present date) – Appointed as lead counsel for Mr Rexhep Selimi who, along with the former President of Kosovo, Mr Hashim Thaci, and two other accused, is said to have been one of the most senior founding members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Mr Selimi is alleged to have held the roles of Head of the KLA’s Operational Directorate and KLA Inspector General. The indictment charges the accused with war crimes and crimes against humanity on the basis of both individual and superior criminal responsibility. Mr Selimi has pleaded not guilty to all charges on the indictment. David leads a defence team of international lawyers, which includes lawyers from Kosovo and Albania, and co-defends with Ben Emmerson QC, CBE, Gregory Kehoe and Rohini Alagendra. The prosecutors include Jack Smith and Alex Whiting.
  • Prosecutor v Ayyash and others (2011-2020) – Assigned as 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) by the use of several tonnes of 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 international lawyers, and was based in the Hague between 2012 to 2018. The STL prosecutor was Mr Norman Farrell. The prosecution team of trial counsel included two Queens Counsel from England, and over ten junior counsel. 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 16th January 2014 and on 21st September 2018 the Trial Chamber closed the trial proceedings and retired to begin deliberations on verdicts. The court worked in Arabic, French and English. On 18th August 2020 the Trial Chamber judges, in delivering their judgement, acquitted Assad Sabra of all charges on the indictment. In the case of Assad Sabra the prosecutors uniquely elected not to appeal against the acquittals.
  • (2018-2019) – Appointed as Amicus Curiae Counsel before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in the Hague on a war crimes case.
  • (2019 and in 2020) – Instructed to advise 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.
  • (30 May 2019) – Panellist at the televised Press Briefing on the death of Ms Alia Abdul Nour in custody in the UAE. 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) – Appointed to advise as a consultant member of an international defence team. The accused faced allegations of terrorism in relation to events in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

See our International Criminal Law team.


Featured cases

  • (2022) – Co-authored Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings, Bloomsbury, fifth edition. The work includes the first published chapter on abuse of process before the international criminal courts.
  • (2022 and 2021) – Panellist speaker and Co-Chair at the Bar Council/Criminal Bar Association joint events on opportunities to work in International Criminal Law.
  • (2020) – Panellist speaker on the ICC/STL’s webinar on prosecution disclosure issues.
  • (2020) – Panellist speaker at the UNODC counter-terrorism conference, on the use of virtual technology in terrorism cases.
    Panellist speaker at the Lugano Film Festival Conference on Covid-19’s impact upon the international courts.
  • (2019) – Presenting international advocacy training at the international criminal court for the International Criminal Court Bar Association.
  • (2019) – Chaired Red Lion Chambers’ International Seminar: The ISIL trials in Iraq – Legal and Practical Challenges.
  • (2019) – Speaker at a United Nations counter-terrorism workshop on Iraq for the UNODC, Vienna.
  • (2019) – Speaker at a United Nations counter-terrorism workshop on Iraq for the UNODC, The Hague.
  • (2018) – Re-elected to the Executive Council of The International Criminal Court Bar Association, The Hague.
  • (2017) – Speaker on the fundamentals of defence rights before international courts, The Siracusa International Institute, Sicily.
  • (2017) – Speaker at a Kosovan Bar Association, Pristina, training conference for lawyers on practice before the international courts.
  • (2016) – Speaker at the fourth meeting of International Defence Offices at the International Criminal Courts, Middle Temple.
  • (2016) – Elected to the Executive Council Committee for the new International Criminal Court Bar Association by the ICC list Counsel, The Hague.
  • (2015) – Third meeting of the International Defence Offices in Geneva, Geneva Bar and the University of Geneva.
  • (2015) – Lecturing with Emile Aoun at Universié 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) – Moderator at the second meeting of the International Defence Offices for the International Courts at the Peace Palace, The Hague.
  • (2013) – Speaker, with Maître Fraçois Roux, a CBA Seminar Special Tribunal for Lebanon – Challenges for the Defence’, Inner Temple.
  • (2013) – Speaker at the Annual Conference of the International Criminal Defence Lawyers of Germany in Berlin.
  • (2012) – Revolution in the Air panellist at Chatham House Conference on the Arab Spring.
  • (2010) – 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.
  • (2008-2010) – CBA representative to the Bar Council’s International Committee.
  • (2007) – Organised the first CBA Conference on the International Criminal Court.
  • (2006) – Co-organiser with German and French Embassies, DAAD, UCL, King’s College London, and L’Institut Francais of The State’s Reaction to Terrorism; a Tripartite Comparison.
  • (2006) – Working party member involved in providing the CBA response to the Home Office’s Draft Code of Practice for the Terrorism Act 2000.
  • (2005) – Member of UK’s team of barristers at The International Moot Court, The Hague.
  • (2003-2007) – Member of the Bar European Group Committee.
  • (2002) – Speaker on European Criminal Law at The Bar Conference, London.
  • (2001) – Speaker at ​​L’École nationale de la magistrature, Paris, for the Bar Council of England and Wales.

See our International team.

Serious & Organised Crime

  • R v B – Instructed to defend an 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 B – Instructed to defend kidnap, torture and firearms offences. The client was acquitted on identification arguments.
  • R v R – Instructed to defend 12 armed robberies and an armed hostage siege in central London. Successfully resisted substantial confiscation claim on technical POCA arguments.
  • R v B – Instructed to defend kidnap, torture and firearms offences. The client was acquitted on identification arguments.
  • R v E – Successfully defended a multiple rape and kidnap, relating to two complainants.
  • R v K – Instructed in the defence of the murder of an 18-year-old girl, who had been kidnapped and raped. Kholi was extradited to the UK from India.

See our Serious & Organised Crime team.


David also has considerable experience of defending in major Terrorist trials in the UK, which have involved International law issues.

Featured cases

  • Iqtidar Dara v Germany – Counsel in the 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. Report
  • R v L (2008-2009) – Successfully defended the first prosecution of Tamil Tiger related terrorism in the UK and first under s12 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 James (2009) – Successfully represented a SIAC case against the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The 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. Report
  • R v K (2008-2009) – Instructed to defend the principal defendant accused of organising and maintaining an Al Qaeda 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 Qaeda 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 and others (2003- 2005) – Instructed as led junior in the successful defence of a nine-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, KB (an alleged Al Qaeda member) was convicted of the murder of a police DC.
  • R v S and 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.

See our Terrorism team.

Murder & Manslaughter

Featured cases

  • R v D – Instructed to defend murder by shooting, involving witness anonymity.
  • R v K – Instructed to defend the murder of an 18-year-old girl, who had been kidnapped and raped. K was extradited to the UK from India.
  • R v A and others – Successfully defended a ‘no body’ murder case. The 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.

See our Murder & Manslaughter team.

Drugs Offences

Featured cases

  • R v A – Instructed to defend a conspiracy to supply several tonnes of cannabis. Acquitted.
  • R v R – Instructed to defend an Essex gangland conspiracy to supply ecstasy.
  • R v D and others – Instructed to defend a £64m importation of Columbian cocaine (then the largest seizure) landed by boat. Following a successful appeal, after a trial and retrial, the proceedings were successfully stayed as an abuse of process.

See our Drugs Offences team.

Regulatory & Professional Disciplinary

David has niche expertise advising companies and businesses on investments into the developing medicinal cannabis, cannabis derivatives, and psychedelic drugs sectors.

He is instructed to advise on a wide variety of related issues, including POCA concerns for the cannabis investment sector, private acquisitions and asset transactions, CBD regulation, life sciences, and clinical trials, and other investments in the fledgling psychedelic drugs sector.

David is a pro bono Advisor to Ms. Carly Barton, the medicinal cannabis campaigner behind Carly’s Amnesty and the Cancard initiatives, has written for the UK’s Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, and has assisted the All Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Reform.

Featured cases

  • Instructed to advise UK medicinal cannabis investment and CBD wellness companies, and their international corporate groups, on admissions to the NEX Exchange Growth Market, AIM and the main London Stock Exchange, advising on FCA requirements for admission.
  • Instructed to advise pharmaceutical companies on the UK medicinal cannabis sector.
  • Instructed to advise North American corporations, licensed in the 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 Carly’s Amnesty.

See our Regulatory & Professional Disciplinary team.


  • BA Hons, LLM, London University


  • David received Commendations for his Defence work at the Special Tribunal in the Hague in the 2019 Financial Times Europe Innovative Lawyers Awards, and also in the British Legal Awards 2019.

Professional appointments

  • Bar Human Rights Committee (2016)
  • ICC Bar Association Executive Council (2016)
  • Member of the Bar Council’s International Committee (2008- 2010)
  • CBA Committee (2007-2010)
  • The Bar European Committee (2003-2007)
  • ICC list of Defence Counsel, The Hague


  • CBA
  • International Criminal Court Bar Association


Abuse of Process in Criminal Proceedings, Bloomsbury Professional, 5th edition, 2022, co-author


  • English
  • French