Zafar Ali KC > 23ES > London, England > Lawyer Profile

1 Gray\'s Inn Square


Zafar Ali QC is a highly experienced defence advocate, international arbitrator and mediator with a military background.

Recently instructed to defend the leader of a north London mosque charged with Murder and separately with possession of Explosives and Ammunition. Trials due to start early 2016. The cases have already attracted high-profile national media attention due to the defendant’s family connection with a celebrity pop star.

Described by the Legal 500 as a barrister who ‘stands out’, a ‘well-prepared and meticulous advocate’ who is a ‘flawless courtroom performer’.

He specialises in grave criminal allegations including: terrorism, homicide, international drugs conspiracies, money laundering and complex fraud including commercial tax fraud against HMRC.

He is regularly instructed in High Court and appellate work, including appeals against conviction, civil asset recovery and appeals on points of law e.g. developing the law on confiscation (R v Allpress et al).  He recently secured the rare intervention of the Court of Appeal (presided over by Hallett LJ the Vice-President of the Criminal Division), via substitution of a lower charge and early release of a young defendant who had wrongly pleaded to s.18 Wounding under the misapprehension he was pleading to s.20, further to former Counsel’s advice (R v McCarthy).

Zafar is on the list of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Court. He has also been selected as Lead Defence Counsel at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.

Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb) having completed the International Commercial Arbitration Course at the University of Oxford and a successful peer interview with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Lead Counsel in numerous international arbitrations across a multi-disciplinary range of commercial disputes.  Currently instructed as Lead Counsel in a mining dispute between a German and a Sierra-Leonian company, to be held at the London Court of International Arbitration

Zafar’s appointments include:

–          Appointed to the Special Controls Review Panel of the Legal Aid Agency

–          CIArB Diploma in International Arbitration

–          Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators

–          Member of the Bar of Northern Ireland

–          Accredited Mediator to International Standards (LSM)

–          Visiting Lecturer at Leiden University, the Hague

–          Rights of audience in the DIFC Courts, Dubai


Qualified 1994, Middle Temple; Silk 2012.


Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi.


Criminal Bar Association; the Bar of Northern Ireland.


Sutton Valence School, Kent; Pakistan Military Academy; University of Warwick (1990 BA (Hons) Politics with International Relations); City University (1993 Diploma in Law); Inns of Court School of Law (1994 Bar Vocational Course).


Keen cricketer and boxer.