Mr Nicholas Johnson KC > Exchange Chambers > Leeds, England > Barrister Profile

Exchange Chambers

Work Department



Nick Johnson KC provides expert representation for corporates, individuals and specialist agencies in the fields of financial crime, associated regulatory work and other serious and organised crime, often with an international dimension. He has been ranked as a Leading Silk for many years for Crime (General and Fraud), Business and Regulatory Crime in the Legal 500 and has a Tier 1 Silk ranking for Financial Crime in Chambers & Partners. In 2024 a leading legal directory described him as “a superstar: a superb advocate who meticulously prepares his cases, and has exceptional legal knowledge. He adapts beautifully to any circumstances and always finds the perfect tone.” He is Deputy Head of Crime at Exchange Chambers.

Nick has appeared as leading counsel in some of the largest financial crime jury trials in the UK. He specialises in bribery and corruption cases, including cross-border investigations and trials. He is frequently retained to provide pre-charge and wider strategic advice. Nick also has experience of corporate fraud investigations brought by the DOJ and SEC in the United States and similar investigations and litigation in Europe, Russia/CIS and the Middle East.

In addition, Nick has extensive experience of civil fraud/recovery, economic sanctions, corporate compliance, production and freezing orders, asylum and extradition proceedings, regulatory and professional misconduct proceedings, health & safety enforcement, and inquests, acting for professionals, company officers and businesses. These proceedings often cross-over into his financial crime practice.

Notable examples of his financial crime work include representing a chartered accountant and a senior bank executive in one of the largest money laundering investigations in English legal history, where £266m cash was allegedly laundered through the NatWest bank and Dubai gold trades, giving rise to multiple ongoing prosecutions, including by the FCA. He acted for a former VP Finance in UK, US and Greek investigations into alleged corporate bribery of surgeons in a worldwide medical devices fraud. He appeared in the first ever UK jury trial of a company charged with a s.7 corporate failure to prevent bribery offence. He is currently instructed to lead for the prosecution in an alleged Ministry of Defence procurement fraud. Nick is appointed to the SFO KC Panel.

Nick continues to prosecute and defend in high-profile serious and organised crime cases. For many years he has been instructed in gangland murder cases, including defending the “Iceman Assassin” alleged to have executed prominent figures Paul Massey and John Kinsella. He has extensive experience in cases of alleged baby murder including those involving NAHI/AHT. He has defended multiple cases involving EncroChat and other encrypted devices. He prosecuted a doctor for non-consensual surgical assaults in Saint Helena. He defended a teenage girl in the killing of 7-year-old Katie Rough, a case concerning schizotypal and persecutory delusional disorders.

Complementing his work as UK barrister, Nick has worked alongside US, Russian, Greek Swiss and UAE lawyers in foreign jurisdictions. He is a contributing author of “Lissack & Horlick on Bribery and Corruption” (Lexis Nexis 3rd ed. 2020). He is the Silk Representative of the North-Eastern Circuit on the Bar Council. Nick speaks conversational Japanese and undertakes advocacy training at the University of York and in local schools. He is Direct Access accredited and, in appropriate circumstances, is happy to accept instructions on this basis.

Further details are available in his CV, which can be downloaded on



Called 1994; QC 2016; Attorney General’s Unified List of Advocates (2006); Category 4 Prosecutor – Specialist Lists for Complex Crime Unit and Fraud Unit (2008)


  • Criminal Bar Association
  • International Bar Association
  • Fraud Lawyers Association


  • B.A. (Ebor) English (1st Class)
  • Dip. Law B.V.C. (London)


  • Japanese Speaker
  • Interested in Photography, Live Music, Walking, and Skiing
  • Advocacy Lecturer/Board Member at University of York Law Department

Lawyer Rankings

Regional Bar > North Eastern Circuit > Business and regulatory crime (including health and safety)

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Nicholas Johnson KCExchange ChambersNicholas is a superstar: a superb advocate who meticulously prepares his cases, and has exceptional legal knowledge. He adapts beautifully to any circumstances and always finds the perfect tone.’

Regional Bar > North Eastern Circuit > Crime (general and fraud)

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Nicholas Johnson KCExchange ChambersA leader in this field. He is extremely knowledgeable, his judgement is sharp and he is a pleasure to instruct.’

At Exchange Chambers‘ Leeds office, the team of ‘formidable advocates‘ continues to act in high-profile cases of murder, serious violence, large-scale drugs conspiracies, serious sexual offences and high-value fraud. Nicholas Johnson KC is ‘an excellent speech-maker‘, and successfully prosecuted a man who was convicted of the sexual assault and murder of a vulnerable woman. Turning to the junior end of chambers, Eddison Flint defended a man charged with criminal damage to the York Minster after he scaled the building with the intention of taking his own life; he received a suspended sentence. The junior end of the team was bolstered by the arrival of Ayesha Smart.