Sir Daniel Bethlehem KC > Twenty Essex > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Twenty Essex

Work Department

  • Public international law


Daniel Bethlehem is a barrister practising in the field of public international law from Twenty Essex chambers in London, in which role he acts both as arbitrator and as counsel / adviser. From May 2006 to May 2011, he was the principal Legal Adviser of the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Prior to this, he was in practice at the Bar from 1990 until 2006. In parallel with his Bar practice, he was Director of the Lauterpacht Centre of International Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge. In addition to his legal practice, Daniel is the founder and director of Legal Policy International, a discreet strategic consultancy advising on high legal content international policy and political issues. He was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours’ List in June 2010.

As arbitrator, Daniel has been appointed in both investor-State and non-investment cases, with notable experience in both PCA and ICSID-administered arbitrations. While he sits frequently as presiding arbitrator, he has also been appointed by both claimants and respondents. Daniel is a member of the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, designated by the United Kingdom pursuant to Article 13(1) of the ICSID Convention, and a panellist, designated by the United Kingdom, on the WTO Indicative List of Panellists maintained by the WTO Secretariat in accordance with Article 8.4 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding. He is also a member of the Chairpersons Arbitration Panel designated jointly by the United Kingdom and the European Union pursuant to Article 171 of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. Given the extent of his investor-State arbitral practice as arbitrator, Daniel does not as a general matter accept instructions as counsel in investor-State cases.

As counsel, Daniel has appeared in every major international forum, including the ICJ, ITLOS, UNCLOS VII tribunals and the so far sole UNCLOS Annex V conciliation commission, WTO panels, the Iran – U.S. Claims Tribunal, European Court of Human Rights, and others. He is frequently asked to put together and lead specialist strategic advisory and litigation teams dealing with complex and multi-faceted disputes. He is experienced in both behind-the-scenes advisory and upfront litigation roles. On high legal content policy matters, he has been consulted on issues ranging from peace negotiations to third-party conciliation processes and engagement in multilateral and regional diplomatic fora. He has extensive experience of engagement with and at the United Nations, various of its Specialised Agencies, and other inter-governmental and supra-national organisations.

In parallel with his legal and advisory practice, Daniel is Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and has an affiliation with the Department of Law at Columbia University in New York, where he has previously been a visiting professor. He remains a Senior Fellow at the Human Rights Institute of Columbia Law School. Daniel’s previous academic appointments include the London School of Economics and Cambridge University, at which he taught graduate courses in United Nations law, GATT/WTO and international trade law, and advanced general courses in public international law, including the use of force, the law of armed conflict / international humanitarian law, the law on State responsibility, immunities, and more.

Amongst other appointments and affiliations, Daniel is a member of the Board of Palantir Technologies UK Ltd, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Lauterpacht Centre of International Law at the University of Cambridge, and a Member of the Advisory Committee on International Law of the U.S. Department of State.

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Public international law

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Sir Daniel Bethlehem KCMG KCTwenty Essex ‘Incredible strategic vision combined with a forensic approach make Daniel a Grand Master in his field.’

Offering ‘perfect service‘ and ‘great breadth and depthTwenty Essex is an ‘outstanding chambers‘ that is ‘first choice for sensitive government matters and public international law‘. The set has an extremely broad selection of silks and juniors from a wide range of backgrounds, including former Legal Advisers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office such as Sir Michael Wood KCMG and Sir Daniel Bethlehem KC. Sudhanshu Swaroop KC and Penelope Nevill are currently representing the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office in Duarte Agostinho v Portugal & Ors, a claim before the ECHR brought by six Portuguese children against the Portuguese government and 32 other states including the UK over their failure to meet climate change commitments. Philippa Webb  is also representing a Filipino former domestic worker in the Saudi Arabian embassy in London in Wong v Basfar, a dispute before the Supreme Court concerning diplomatic immunity to cases of human trafficking and modern slavery.