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Sir Daniel Bethlehem KCMG QC

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Clerks' direct contact:
+44 (0)20 7842 1200
Clerks [at] 20essexst [dot] com

Areas of expertise

Daniel Bethlehem specialises in public international law. He also advises on aspects of UK national security law.  He accepts instructions as counsel and adviser as well as arbitration, inquiry and expert witness appointments. From May 2006 to May 2011, he was the principal Legal Adviser of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the first external appointee to this position.

Daniel has extensive advisory, litigation and arbitration experience, having practised from chambers from 1990 until his appointment to the FCO in 2006 and following the completion of his FCO appointment in 2011.  He has acted for States, international and non-governmental organisations, corporations and individuals on issues across the full breadth of public international law, including WTO law, as well as on aspects of European Union law and international and European human rights law.  In this capacity, Daniel has appeared frequently before a wide range of international courts and tribunals, from the International Court of Justice to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, WTO and regional trade panels, ad hoc international arbitration panels, and other international dispute settlement mechanisms.  He has similarly appeared before all levels of English courts and tribunals, from Employment Tribunals through to the High Court, Court of Appeal and House of Lords / Supreme Court.  He has also appeared before the EU courts in Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.  In these roles, he has acted both as counsel and as agent, overseeing and guiding the strategic formulation of litigation and dispute settlement policy.  He also advises on issues concerning the application of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, including cases before the UK National Contact Point under those guidelines.  Given his on-going investor-State arbitral appointments (described below), Daniel is not at present accepting instructions as counsel in investor-State arbitration proceedings.

Complementing this experience, Daniel has advised and represented States, international and non-governmental organisations, corporations and individuals in respect of high legal content policy and political matters, ranging from international peace negotiations to arms limitation talks and political representation in such fora as the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the European Union and the Council of Europe.

Distinct from his counsel work, Daniel has extensive experience as arbitrator (both presiding and party- appointed) in a range of investor-State arbitrations under the framework of the PCA, ICSID, NAFTA, ECT and DRCAFTA.  His current appointments are broadly divided between presiding arbitrator, party-appointed arbitrator by the claimant and party-appointed by the respondent.  Daniel also has experience as arbitrator in non-investment cases engaging issues of international law.  He is a panellist on the WTO indicative list of panellists maintained pursuant to Article 8.4 of the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding and has previously participated in both NAFTA and ad hoc Canada/U.S. trade panel proceedings.  He was a member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the period prior to May 2006 and, in this capacity, sat as arbitrator in various CAS proceedings.

From 2003 to 2006, Daniel was the Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge and before that, from 1998 to 2003, its Deputy Director.  He was, throughout this period, a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.  Prior to his move to Cambridge in 1998, he was a lecturer in international law at the London School of Economics from 1992 to 1998.  In both Cambridge and at the LSE, Daniel taught Masters-level courses ranging from a general course in public international law to courses on United Nations law, WTO law, International Humanitarian Law, and others.

From 1990 to 1992, Daniel practised European Community law in Brussels as counsel associated with the law firm Forrester Norall & Sutton.  Before commencing practice at the Bar in 1990, Daniel worked for a number of years in investment banking at Barclays de Zoete Wedd and Nikko Securities in the fields of European equity strategy and corporate finance, observing first hand both the “Big Bang” deregulation of the London financial markets of 1986 and the stock market crash of 1987.

In parallel with his Bar practice, Daniel is also actively engaged in the foreign policy advisory field as Director of Legal Policy International Ltd (LPI).  He is a member of the Advisory Council of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the Advisory Committee of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, and a Counsellor of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.  He has previously been a member of the Council of the British Branch of the International Law Association and of the Advisory Council the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.

Daniel is a Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and also has a long-standing affiliation with Columbia Law School in New York where he has been a regular Visiting Professor of Law.  He was a Consulting Senior Fellow for Law and Strategy at The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in the period 2011 – 2016.

In November 2013, Daniel joined the Board of Palantir Technologies UK Ltd.

Daniel has published and lectured widely on topics across the range of public international law from the use of force and economic sanctions, to GATT/WTO law, human rights and refugee law, and the place and role of law in international dispute settlement.

Daniel is a Bencher of Middle Temple.  He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in June 2010.

Key public appointments:

  • Visiting Professor, Department of War Studies, King’s College London (from September 2015)
  • Joined the Board of Palantir Technologies UK Ltd. (from November 2013)
  • Member of the Advisory Council, Restatement Fourth of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (from October 2012)
  • Member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law (from May 2012)
  • Member of the UK Foreign Secretary’s “Locarno Group” of external advisers on UK foreign policy issues (from November 2011)
  • Member of the Search Committee (representing WEOG States) for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2011)

Personal and Academic Background

Born in London in 1960, Daniel grew up in South Africa, studying Political Science and International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, obtaining a BA degree in 1981.  Returning to the UK thereafter, he studied law at Bristol University (LLB, 1985) and in Cambridge (Queens' College, LLM, 1990).  He is an experienced Master scuba diver and has trekked to Everest base camp, climbed Kilimanjaro and scaled glaciers in Patagonia.

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DB - Cases and Publications (to Sept 2011).pdf123.99 KB
Bethlehem - cases, appointments and publications since September 2011 (7 November 2016).pdf139.8 KB