Professional information

  • 2017: Called to the Scottish Bar
  • 2016-2017: Lord Reid Scholar, Faculty of Advocates
    (Devilmasters: Euan Duthie QC; David Small; Frances Connor)
  • 2012-2016: Solicitor in Scotland; 2014-2016: Solicitor in England & Wales
  • 2009: LLB Scots Law (University of Glasgow):
    Reid Family Trust prize for best overall result for LLB; Robert Ross Prize for property, trusts and succession; Andrew J Cunninghame Prize for contract, delict and family law
  • 2006: MA (hons) Latin (University of Edinburgh)
Professional experience

David is a barrister in England & Wales as well as an advocate in Scotland. David specialises in commercial and public law with a focus on taxation and the use of trusts. Since calling to the bar, David has appeared in courts at all levels, including before a full bench of the UK Supreme Court and a full bench of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

David has a busy public law practice, including high-profile constitutional litigation. He appeared as junior counsel before a full bench of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Wightman v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union ([2019] Q.B. 199) and as junior counsel before a full bench of the United Kingdom Supreme Court in Cherry v Advocate General for Scotland [2019] UKSC 41.

David has particular experience with taxation (particularly personal taxation) and disputes involving trustees, executors and charity trustees. He is a full member of the Society of Trust and Estates Practitioners. David has provided advice on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters relating to private individuals, trusts, businesses and charities. He has experience of advising trustees and executors where the trust/ estate has cross-border or international elements, requiring consideration of private international law and double taxation treaties.

David is regularly instructed in a wide range of corporate and commercial matters, including company law petitions. David has significant experience of contractual disputes and professional liability (solicitors, tax advisers/ accountants) including disciplinary matters. David has also gained experience in the winding up of companies and disputes both during insolvency and between solvent parties, particularly in relation to property and clawback claims.

Notable cases

Commercial and Tax

  • DCM (Optical Holdings) v HMRC [2020] CSIH 60. Challenge against non-statutory ‘inhibits’ being used to prevent repayment of input tax to repayment traders as well as issues in relation to time bar for assessments.
  • McMahon v Grant Thornton [2020] CSOH 50. Defending accountancy firm accused of professional negligence for failing to provide advice about entrepreneurs’ relief from capital gains tax.
  • Glasgow City Council v VFS Financial Services Ltd [2020] CSOH 92; [2022] CSIH 1. Competition law claims by local authorities against various vehicle manufacturers following a determination of findings by European Commission.
  • Promontoria (Henrico) Limited v Friel [2019] CSOH 2; [2020] CSIH 1. Enforcement of a personal guarantee by assignee of bank loan book, including reclaiming motion in relation to requirements of proving the tenor, certification of documents and construction of an assignation.
  • Centric Community Projects Ltd v Aberdeen City Council [2019] CSOH 76. Challenge against refusal by local authority to grant mandatory charitable relief from non domestic rates.

Public and Administrative Law

  • Cherry v Advocate General [2019] UKSC 41. Challenge to the Prime Minister’s attempt to prorogue the UK Parliament in order to avoid political accountability. Heard by full bench of the UK Supreme Court.
  • Wightman v Advocate General [2019] QB 199. Challenge to determine whether the Article 50 “withdrawal notification” could be withdrawn by the UK once it had been notified to the European Commission. Heard by a full bench of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
  • Philip v Scottish Ministers [2021] CSOH 52. Challenge to the coronavirus regulations that required the closure of places of worship on the grounds of a disproportionate interference with a Convention right.
  • Sharp v Scottish Ministers [2020] CSOH 74. Challenge against Scottish Ministers’ relief package for retail, hospitality and retail sectors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Greenpeace Ltd v Advocate General [2021] SLT 1303. Challenges to the granting of oil drilling licences in the North Sea.
  • O’Leary v  Scottish Ministers [2020] CSOH 81/ Hutton v Parole Board for Scotland [2021] CSOH 34. Counsel for interested parties (the Risk Management Authority) in two disputes about the respective roles of various public authorities within the statutory framework governing orders for lifelong restriction.
  • Chambers UK Bar – Recommended as leading junior in Commercial Dispute Resolution (Up and Coming); Administrative and Public Law (Band 2); and Tax (Up and Coming)
  • Legal 500 – Recommended as leading junior in Commercial Disputes (Tier 2) and Administrative and Public Law (Tier 2)


Commercial and Taxation

  • David Welsh has a sophisticated taxation practice in which he tends to act for those challenging the decisions and powers of HMRC. David Welsh is an advocate with a rising profile and an impressive client following. He is frequently instructed in a variety of commercial matters, including contractual disputes and cases touching on competition law. “Easy to work with, and his advice demonstrated a very good grasp of the complexities of the Scottish tax system. Overall we found David to be technically excellent, commercial and responsive.” “A very experienced junior who is exceptionally well prepared for anything.” “Really bright and can be used for a broad range of cases.” (Chambers and Partners 2022)
  • “David’s skill is in distilling complex legal issues in such a way that they are accessible to both parties and the Court. In both consultations and appearances he is excellent at making clear and succinct points, while remaining mindful of the client’s objectives in the litigation.” (Legal 500 2022)

Administrative and Public Law

  • “Sought after by prominent solicitors to handle complex, high-profile challenges at an impressively early stage in his career. He acts for petitioners and respondents in judicial reviews involving questions of constitutional and commercial law, or the regulation of the professions.” “A standout at the Bar in relation to Scottish public law.” “The quality of his advice, his knowledge and his skills are way beyond his years.” (Chambers and Partners 2022)
  • Leading junior for administrative and public law: “He is exceptionally bright, so is able to specialise in very technical areas of work, such as tax litigation. His written work and oral advocacy illustrate this intelligence. He is very precise and thoughtful when approaching each new piece of work.” (Legal 500 2022)
Select publications
  • Reeves v HMRC: hold-over relief, literal interpretation and human rights BTR 2019 1 7-15
  • Reeves v HMRC: Is denial of hold-over relief a breach of human rights or EU law? 2017 BTR 3 285-290
  • The Scotland Bill and Scottish Income Tax 2015 JLSS 2015 60(7) 16-17
  • The EU Succession Regulation 2015 SPCLR 53 4 – 5
  • Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Bill 2014 SPCLR 46
  • R (Davies) v HMRC: How far can the taxpayer rely on HMRC guidance? 2011 BTR 6 643-652
  • Tuczka v HMRC: The end for ordinary residence? 2010 BTR 3 223-233