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Essex Court Chambers

Living Wage
Work 020 7813 8000
Fax 020 7813 8080
London, Singapore

Paul Key QC

Work 020 7813 8000
Essex Court Chambers (Essex Court Chambers)


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).

London Bar


Within: Leading Silks

Paul Key QC - Essex Court Chambers ‘ Quick, responsive, highly effective, intelligent and user-friendly, he thinks outside of the box. ’

Within: Energy

Essex Court Chambers is 'a "go-to" set in London for complex matters' and has 'excellent strength in depth'.  In 2017 and 2018, the set was instructed in energy cases with a combined value in excess of $80bn related to oil, gas, coal and renewable energy. Graham Dunning QC was lead counsel for the Kurdistan Regional Government in a $35bn LCIA arbitration relating to an oil and gas project in Northern Iraq and potential pipelines to serve Europe. Paul Key QC successfully represented Nigeria in its defence of a $9bn arbitration award. David Mildon QC represented the applicant in Kufpec UK Limited v Enquest Heather Limited, which centred on issues under a Farm-In Agreement for various North Sea license blocks. Among the juniors, Siddharth Dhar acted as sole lead advocate for the defendant in Hydro & Ors v Republic of Albania, a $1.5bn ICSID claim arising from alleged investments in the hydroelectric sector. According to one client: 'The clerks are uniformly excellent – responsive and helpful'.

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International arbitration: counsel

Within: Leading Silks

Paul Key QC - Essex Court Chambers ‘ Has great judgement from a tactical point of view and is very up to speed in the law. ’

Within: International arbitration: counsel

Essex Court Chambers a 'go-to set for any general commercial or arbitration-related matters'. The chambers is praised for being 'commercial and strategic in approach' and 'typically team-oriented and user-friendly, including for non-UK clients'. The barristers are 'the cream of the crop' and few will quibble with the set's overall market-leading status. Members are well-versed in arbitrations across a range of jurisdictions, sectors, and disciplines, including insurance, infrastructure, BIT claims, and general commercial disputes. The set's barristers have been involved in several high-profile disputes, including Turkmenistan v National Iranian Gas Corporation in which Paul Key QC was lead counsel for the National Iranian Gas Corporation. Another highlight was Progas Energy Limited, Progas Holding Limited, and Sheffield Engineering Company Ltd v Republic of Pakistan, in which Dan Sarooshi QC faced David Foxton QC and Iain Quirk.

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Public international law

Within: Leading Silks

Paul Key QC - Essex Court Chambers ‘ A top-drawer mind matched with powerful advocacy skills and the ability to read a tribunal. ’

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