Sir David A R Williams KNZM, KC

David A R Williams QC is a graduate of the University of Auckland (LLB, 1965) and of Harvard University (LLM, 1966). In 1969, he joined leading litigation firm, Russell McVeagh, where he was subsequently made partner. He later moved to the independent Bar, attaining the rank of Queen’s Counsel in 1987. Mr Williams served as a judge of the High Court of New Zealand from 1992 to 1994 before returning to practice as a barrister.

Mr Williams has developed a global international arbitration practice through which he has been involved, most often as President of the Tribunal, in over 150 international arbitrations. He serves part-time as the President of the Court of Appeal of the Cook Islands. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Auckland, where he teaches international arbitration. Together with Amokura Kawharu, Mr Williams is co-author of Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration, New Zealand’s first comprehensive treatise on domestic and international arbitration.  The Second Edition was published in 2017.  In the Preface to the Second Edition Hon Justice Stephen Kos, President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal said that:

Williams & Kawharu deservedly stands among the great New Zealand legal texts.  Its vivid scholarship is the direct product of profound knowledge and experience of the daily practice of arbitration not only in New Zealand but in other jurisdictions.  It is attuned also to public policy currents that disturb the surface of a subject many think of, wrongly, as engaging purely private law considerations.  It is acutely reflective of the history of its subject, but also gazes forward clear-sightedly to assist shape its future.  This new, second edition will be welcomed by judges and practitioners in New Zealand.  And so, too, in other jurisdictions.  The dimensions of this fine work transcend merely domestic boundaries.

Academic Qualifications

  • LLB, University of Auckland Law School, New Zealand, 1965
  • LLM, Harvard Law School, 1966
  • Visiting Scholar, University of Virginia Law School, USA, 1978
  • Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University, UK, 2002
  • Honorary Professor, University of Auckland Law School, 2010


Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Auckland, 2016

JF Northey Memorial Book Award (for Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration), 2011

Law Practice

  • Litigation partner, Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co, Auckland, 1969–1985
  • Barrister-at-Law, 1985–1991; named Queen’s Counsel in 1987 Barrister-at-Law and International Arbitrator, 1995

Judicial Experience

  • Justice of the High Court of New Zealand, 1991–1994

Part-time appointments

  • Justice of the High Court of the Cook Islands, 2000–2005
  • Chief Justice of the Cook Islands, 2005–2010
  • Justice of the Court of Appeal of the Cook Islands, 2010–2014
  • President of the Court of Appeal of the Cook Islands, 2014
  • Justice of the Court of the Dubai International Financial Centre, 2007–2013