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David Walbank

David Walbank

Call: 1987

According to the Legal 500, “David Walbank is outstanding in fraud matters.”

Having historically had conduct of many of the most serious and sensitive cases for the major fraud prosecution agencies (including as former Standing Counsel to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office and to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), his work is now almost exclusively for front-rank fraud defence firms. He is instructed as leading counsel for the defence in Operation Amazon, one of the highest profile prosecutions currently before the courts.

David is an outstanding technical lawyer. Twice in the past five years he has delivered the keynote lecture on recent developments in the law to the Annual Government Legal Service Prosecutors’ Conference, speaking alongside respectively the Director of the Serious Fraud Office and the Solicitor General. He has also lectured on the Fraud Act alongside Professor David Ormerod QC and on legal professional privilege to the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad. He has a particular expertise in complex disclosure issues. He wrote the chapter on prosecution disclosure in Butterworths’ Fraud: Law, Practice & Procedure and ‘The Walbank Protocol’ was cited in Gross LJ’s Review of Disclosure In Criminal Proceedings as a model for prosecution disclosure.

His technical legal knowledge is matched by his natural abilities as an advocate and his commitment to his clients. As a student, he was President of the Cambridge Union Society. The current edition of the Legal 500 describes him as a ‘brave, fierce and hard-working advocate … well known for cases involving fraud, money laundering and bribery’.

In his early years in practice, at the chambers of George Carman QC, David’s work was predominantly in the civil jurisdiction and he appeared regularly in the High Court. However, since the mid-1990s, he has specialised in the fields of financial fraud and its allied disciplines, including:

  • Serious Complex Fraud & Bribery and Corruption
  • Serious Organised Crime
  • Money Laundering, Confiscation and Restraint
  • Regulatory Offences
  • Civil fraud

Serious Complex Fraud, Bribery & CorruptionSerious Organised CrimeMoney Laundering, Confiscation & Restraint

David is briefed by a number of the top white collar fraud defence firms. Recent instructions have included the following:

  • R v MR (2016-2017) A tax-incentivised carbon credit investment scheme, where £110m revenue is alleged to have been put at risk, resulting in a 10-year investigation by HMRC and an 8-month trial before a High Court judge.
  • R v JR (2017) Successfully dismissed laundering charges on the grounds that the predicate tax offences had not yet crystallised, an early application of the Supreme Court’s decision in R v GH..
  • R v CH (2017) Obtained the dismissal of the charges on the ground that there had been no false representation under the Fraud Act 2006 where reverse proxy websites had been used to circumvent the effect of High Court injunctions obtained against UK internet service providers.
  • R v TD (2016) The jury were discharged following argument that the offence of cheating the revenue was not complete at the time of arrest: the defendant then received a suspended sentence following a Goodyear indication in relation to an amended indictment.
  • R v MR (2016) Apple iPhone fraud: the prosecution offered no evidence following submissions regarding the admissibility of the relevant bank records.
  • R v KS (2015) An allegedly fraudulent investment scheme, involving time share properties in the United States and in which the victims were senior police officers; following successful admissibility arguments, the prosecution offered no evidence.
  • R v RS (2015) Represented the lead defendant on money-laundering charges arising from a large-scale excise fraud.
  • R v RA (2014) Represented a solicitor, who was charged with money-laundering offences arising from a Solicitors Regulation Authority investigation:  the defendant was acquitted.
  • R v RP (2013) Leading the defence of a number of men charged with a complex Film Tax Credit fraud: the defendant was acquitted.
  • R v DW (2013) A massive land bank prosecution alleged by the prosecution to be worth £35m.
  • R v SY (2013) Represented a ‘reality TV star’ on charges of personal tax fraud: the defendant was acquitted.
  • R v WT (2012) Represented a World Bank Staff member accused of channelling millions of pounds of worth of corrupt payments from corporate bidders for World Health Projects to bank accounts in Switzerland.
  • R v HR (2012) A series of trials of alleged tax frauds, involving a number of high-profile individuals in Premiership football.
  • R v AV (2012) £200m conspiracy to defraud prosecution brought by the Federation Against Copyright Theft, alleging the deliberate facilitation of access to copyright material across the internet.

David’s expertise in organised crime cases is founded on many years immersed in the prosecution of the most sensitive of multi-handed intelligence-led prosecutions. He has in recent years developed an exclusively defence practice in this field. Recent instructions have included:

  • R v ZH (2016) & R v HK (2016) Leading counsel in two multi-handed immigration fraud trials relating to abuses of the student visa system and arising from a BBC Panorama undercover investigation.
  • R v MP (2013) Leading counsel in an eight-week multi-handed ‘sex-trafficking’ conspiracy in which it was alleged that large numbers of young women had been brought into the United Kingdom for the purposes of prostitution.
  • R v CM (2013) Leading counsel for the first of seven defendants in an international cocaine-trafficking and money-laundering prosecution conspiracy, which also involved ground-breaking rulings re the limits on charging offences based on a European Arrest Warrant.
  • R v BS (2012) Leading counsel in the trial of two Church of England vicars for officiating over more than 200 allegedly sham marriages.
  • R v CD (2011) Leading counsel in a ‘flagship’ drug-trafficking prosecution by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which subsequently featured on a BBC Crimewatch Special.
  • R v VB (2011) Leading counsel in the trial of a Church of England vicar, an immigration lawyer and a ‘fixer’ for an immigration scam involving more than 300 sham marriages.
  • R v DP (2010) Leading counsel in the trial of seventeen defendants in relation to a heroin-trafficking conspiracy involving more than 20 separate importations.

David has developed a particular expertise in confiscation proceedings and is equally at home with contested and complex factual issues or with the more arcane points of law and procedure. He acted as ‘moderator’ at several of the CBA’s training sessions for barristers on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and has over a period of many years delivered numerous lectures on both confiscation proceedings and restraint proceedings to both defence solicitors and prosecutors. His reported cases in this field have included:

  • R v Morgan; R v Bygrave [2008] EWCA Crim 1323 in relation to prosecutorial discretion and abuse of process.
  • R v James Edward Scott [2008] EWCA Crim 1751 (in relation to hidden assets and ex parte applications in confiscation proceedings)
  • R v Suchedina [2007] 1 CAR 306(23), R v Ramzan [2007] 1 CAR 150(10), R v Ali & Hussain [2008] EWCA Crim 1466 and R v El-Kurd Sakavickas Reichwald & Singh [2007] 1 WLR 3190: instructed by the Director of RCPO in these appeals against historic money-laundering conspiracies in the light of the House of Lords decision in R v Saik [2007] 1 AC 18.
  • R v Cottrell and Fletcher [2007] 1 WLR 3262 (described as a case of “constitutional significance” on the relationship between the Court of Appeal Criminal Division and the Criminal Cases Review Commission).
  • R v Soneji [2006] 1 AC 340 a House of Lords decision on the jurisdictional consequences of failing to follow the correct procedure in relation to the postponement of confiscation proceedings.

Professional Disciplinary & Regulatory

RegulatoryCivil Fraud

David regularly acts in regulatory proceedings. His particular expertise in this field was recognised by his appointment from 2013 to 2017 as Standing Counsel to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). As well as his work for BIS, he has acted in proceedings brought by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority and has in recent years been instructed in some of the highest profile prosecutions arising from environmental accidents, with a particular focus on breaches by the major utilities companies. Instructions have included:

  • R v TG (2016) Instructed by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in the prosecution of a former City trader accused of conducting ‘shadow trading’ on the markets in breach of his Bankruptcy Order.
  • R v SWS (2013) Appearing for the Environment Agency both in the Crown Court and the Court of Appeal Criminal Division in the prosecution of a major utilities company for operating a regulated facility otherwise than in accordance with the terms of the licence, where the breaches had resulted in multiple discharges over an extended period of untreated sewage effluent into protected bathing waters.
  • R v SWS (2012) Instructed in the prosecution of one of the major utilities companies for causing numerous sea-front residential properties to be flooded with untreated raw sewage.
  • R v EB (2011) Instructed in a prosecution for breaching director’s disqualification when managing deliberately loss-making ‘investment vehicles’.
  • R v DS (2011)  Instructed in the first ever criminal prosecution brought by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulation Agency under The Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004 (alleging the falsification of data in clinical trials on human guinea pigs).

Whilst the majority of his work in recent years has been in the criminal courts, he has also historically had significant experience in the conduct of civil fraud litigation both in this jurisdiction and abroad. He has conducted a number of substantial cases in the High Court. Examples of the range of work undertaken in this field between 1995-2017 include:

  • Companies Court, defending a petition issued by the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills for the winding up of a limited company and a Limited Liability Partnership in the public interest.
  • Companies Court, acting for a major multinational corporation in obtaining a freezing injunction in relation to secret profits made by a senior manager who had been summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.
  • Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, appearing on behalf of the victim of a real property fraud, seeking rectification of the Antigua Land Register and praying in aid the doctrine of part performance.
  • Queen’s Bench Division trial of a claim by an author for damages against a publishing house for non-publication of a commissioned work.
  • Queen’s Bench Division trial of a claim in liquidator’s negligence.
  • Chancery Division trial of a claim for specific performance of a commercial conveyancing transaction (against the Sultan of Brunei).


Publications, Lectures and Training


David’s recent lectures and seminars have included:

  • Pursuing Allegations of Fraud by way of Private Prosecution: Shepherd & Wedderburn Sherlock Holmes lecture (2015).
  • Proportionality in Confiscation?:  Environment Agency (2015).
  • Developments in the Law in 2014: Annual Conference of Government Legal Service Prosecutors (2014).
  • Rethinking Recompense from the Fraudulent Professional: Professional Negligence Lawyers’ Association (2014).
  • Chinks in the Draconian Armour and Breaking the Shackles (lectures on the conduct of respectively confiscation and restraint proceedings specifically from the perspective of the defence solicitor) to various white collar fraud defence firms (2013).
  • Developments in the Law in 2012: Annual Conference of Government Legal Service Prosecutors (2012).


  • A brave, fierce and hardworking advocate … well known for cases involving fraud, money laundering and bribery – Legal 500 2017
  • A highly experienced advocate … outstanding in fraud cases – Legal 500 2016
  • Known for his defence practice, which has an emphasis on white collar crime – Legal 500 2015


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MA Hons in Law, Queens’ College, Cambridge.


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Fraud Lawyers Association

Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers

Health and Safety Lawyers’ Association (HSLA)

Criminal Bar Association

South Eastern Circuit

Professional Appointments

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Standing Counsel to the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (2005 – 2010)

Standing Counsel to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2013 – 2017)

CPS Specialist Fraud Panel

CPS Organised Crime Panel

Serious Fraud Office List ‘A’

Regulatory List ‘A’ for the Health & Safety Executive, Office of Rail Regulation and Environment Agency