Paul Key QC > Essex Court Chambers > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Essex Court Chambers
Essex Court Chambers
Paul Key photo


In private practice as a barrister since 1997, specialising in international and commercial law, and, in particular, international commercial arbitration and treaty arbitration. Regularly advises and appears as counsel before the English courts and international arbitrations in many countries. Also has extensive experience as an arbitrator in ad hoc and institutional international arbitration. Awarded ‘Chambers & Partners’ Junior Barrister of the Year in the field of international arbitration in 2012.


Called 1997 (England and Wales). Also called to New Zealand Bar; New York Bar; New South Wales Bar; Queensland Bar; and Victoria Bar. Visiting senior lecturer in arbitration law, King’s College, London.


American Society of International Law; Commercial Bar Association (COMBAR); International Law Association (UK representative on International Arbitration Committee); ILA; ICCA; LCIA; LCLBA.


Auckland University (LLB Hons); Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (PhD).

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Public international law

(Leading Silks) Ranked: Tier 3

Paul Key QCEssex Court ChambersHas a rare and considerable depth of knowledge of both public and private international law; his success in representing and working with government advisers and foreign counsel is in part due to his ability to apply international norms and English legal principles to matters of international investment and trade.

London Bar > Energy

(Leading Silks) Ranked: Tier 1

Paul Key QCEssex Court ChambersAn excellent advisor and strategist who communicates well with clients.

Essex Court Chambers is ‘at top of the tree with great strength in depth‘, remarks one client. A prominent set for international arbitration, it has several members who appear in large-scale energy litigation. Although David Foxton QC was appointed to the High Court Bench in early 2020 the set retains ‘many junior silks and senior juniors with real strength in this area‘. These include Siddharth Dhar, who acted for Karkey in an $845m dispute concerning the provision of Turkish electric power barges for the supply of electricity to the city of Karachi. Paul Key QC acted as lead counsel for National Iranian Gas Corporation in its on-going defence of a $5bn energy arbitration claim brought by Turkmenistan. One client notes that ‘you cannot fault the clerks room, which is efficient and friendly, and Joe Ferrigno is a fantastic senior clerk‘.

London Bar > International arbitration: counsel

(Leading Silks) Ranked: Tier 1

Paul Key QC – Essex Court Chambers ‘Combines high intellect with a sure eye for how a Tribunal thinks and always has beguilingly simple but effective answers to complex problems.

Essex Court Chambers is ‘top of the list for international arbitration‘ with a ‘deep bench of excellent barristers‘. The set has been a market leader for some time, but hasn’t rested on its laurels, with the arrivals of Alison Macdonald QC and Angeline Welsh from Matrix Chambers and Sean Aughey from 11KBW, which together is considered ‘quite a coup‘ by observers. Notable cases include VRG Linhas Aereas SA v MatlinPatterson Opportunities II LP in which Emily Wood is representing the private equity group MatlinPatterson in a challenged arbitral award. Paul Key QC is appearing in Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim A.S. v The Islamic Republic of Pakistan.