Lord Neill has been involved as counsel in a large number of disputes which have ended in court or arbitration proceedings; in others his role has been limited to the giving of advice. The bulk of the cases have involved aspects of commercial law; others have involved public law. He has also appeared in specialised fields such as patent and copyright cases. Patrick Neill has had long experience in arbitration. He has acted as counsel in numerous arbitrations and has frequently sat as an arbitrator (sole or more usually in a panel of three) in domestic and international commercial arbitrations. Such arbitrations have commonly been under the auspices of the ICC, LCIA, ICDR, or other appointing institution; some have been ad hoc arbitrations. Typical areas covered by such arbitrations include international commercial contracts (and their validity, interpretation, and remedies for breach), joint ventures, insurance and reinsurance, fraud and misrepresentation, and patent licensing. He has written on Confidentiality in Arbitration (Arbitration International Vol 12 1996 287).
References are given below to some of his reported cases over the last decade or so. Earlier seminal cases included Anisminic (vitiating effect of error of law on administrative decisions (HL), Tai Hing (customer's duties to bank (PC), General Tire v Firestone (damages awardable for infringement of intellectual property rights (HL), and Mahon v Air New Zealand (natural justice in its application to inquiry reports (PC)).
Patrick Neill brings to the practice of the law wide hands-on experience in a variety of relevant fields. As regards ethics and enforceable standards, he was Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life - appointed by the Prime Minister - from 1997-2000; in the regulation of the securities market and the disciplining of practitioners he was Chairman of the Council for the Securities Industry - appointed by the Governor of the Bank of England - and a member of the Takeover Panel 1978-1985; in connection with the conduct of the media he was Chairman of the Press Council from 1978 to 1983 and subsequently an Independent National Non-executive Director of Times Newspapers Ltd.
As regards the problems of higher education, he was head of an Oxford College (All Souls) for 18 years, four of which he served as Vice Chancellor of the University; judicially, he has had the benefit of 17 years service as Judge of Appeal on the Courts of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey; he has conducted inquiries - at the behest of the Government (DTI) into the regulation of Lloyd's of London; for Lloyd's itself, into the collapse of the Feltrim Syndicate; and for a report commissioned by EMAG and submitted to the European Parliament in 2007 he investigated the performance of the Financial Services Ombudsman in handling the grievances of certain policyholders of Equitable Life Assurance Society.
Neill served his own profession as a member of the Bar Council for some years and then for one year as Chairman of the Bar and Chairman of the Senate of the Inns of Court.
He was knighted in 1983 and created a Life Peer in 1997. He is an honorary Doctor of Law of Buckingham, Hull and Oxford universities and an honorary Fellow of two Oxford Colleges.