Public international law in London Bar
Public international law (PIL) covers a wide variety of disciplines, but for the purpose of this section, the rankings are primarily identifying those barristers with a strong focus on state v state disputes, state immunity, sanctions, and investment treaty arbitrations. There is inevitably some overlap with other categories such as public law and international human rights law, but for a more exhaustive review of experts in those fields, please see the separate civil liberties and human rights and administrative and public law chapters.
Blackstone Chambers is an 'excellent set' for public international law thanks to its 'array of talent'. In addition to investment treaty and state v state disputes, many of the set's larger public international law cases cross over into related areas such as human rights and state immunity. Highlights in this regard include Certain Underwriters at Lloyds v Syria & Others where Timothy Otty QC and Naina Patel secured a $50m judgment against the Syrian Arab Republic following the terrorist destruction of aircraft.
Essex Court Chambers is a 'very eminent set' with an 'unparalleled range of talents' working across all areas of public international law. The set has a strong focus on state v state and investment treaty arbitrations, and has a strong blend of barristers with both academic and commercial expertise. Members regularly appear before the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. Major cases include Ukraine v Russia, in which Sam Wordsworth QC is leading Amy Sander. Alison Macdonald QC joined from Matrix Chambers in January 2020.
Matrix Chambers provides a 'smooth and professional' service, and when it comes to public international law it has some of 'the best barristers in the UK'. Members also have strong expertise in related areas of international criminal, humanitarian, and environmental law. The set has members involved in several disputes before the International Court of Justice, including the Mauritius v UK UNCLOS case, in which Philippe Sands QC is acting as counsel. Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh was also involved in in the high-profile naming dispute between North Macedonia (as that state is now known) and Greece.
Twenty Essex has a selection of top names at senior and junior level who have established incredibly strong track records in public international law. Two members were formerly principal legal advisers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including Sir Michael Wood KCMG who never took silk due to a historic quirk in the system, but is a QC in all but name and therefore sits in The Legal 500's 'Senior Counsel' table in recognition of his expertise. Members have been involved in several major cases, including Australia v Timor-Leste Conciliation, while Guglielmo Verdirame QC and Sudhanshu Swaroop QC faced each other on the Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt v Foreign & Commonwealth Office case.