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Public International Law

At the forefront of public international law for 70 years, Members of 20 Essex Street Chambers advise and represent States, governments, corporations, individuals and NGOs across the full spectrum of public international law.

Members have outstanding reputations and experience as advocates, regularly appearing before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS Annex VII tribunals and Annex V commissions, ad hoc inter-State arbitral tribunals, the Iran-US Claims Tribunal, the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter- American Court of Human Rights, investor- State treaty tribunals and ICSID annulment panels, EU courts, WTO Appellate Body and panels and other international and regional forums. They are equally at home in domestic court proceedings involving questions of public international law.

As well as providing unsurpassed legal expertise and advocacy on substantive issues, Members provide expert practical advice on all aspects of procedure and case management, including selection of judges, arbitrators and experts, procedural rules, interlocutory matters, interim relief and the organisation of hearings. They work alongside lay and professional clients at every stage of the case, drafting pleadings, rules of procedure and other documents. 

The issues covered in Members’ recent cases show their breadth of expertise:

  • maritime delimitation
  • territorial sovereignty
  • land and river boundaries and use rights
  • environmental law / marine protected areas
  • freedom of navigation
  • State responsibility
  • investment disputes
  • diplomatic and State immunity
  • jurisdiction of the ICJ
  • territorial application of treaties
  • human rights
  • extraterritorial prescriptive jurisdiction
  • legal personality of rule of law missions

Members’ transactional and advice work is equally wide-ranging and practical in its application. Legal issues covered by recent advices include:

  • attaching State property to enforce arbitral awards
  • wildlife and trade law
  • underwater cultural heritage
  • sanctions
  • UNCLOS Part XV & sovereignty disputes
  • applications to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf
  • international aviation law
  • judicial review remedies
  • regulatory aspects in the energy sector (business and human rights)

Members of the Set also serve as judges, arbitrators and commissioners in inter-State disputes and investor-State disputes. As each Member of Chambers is an independent, self-employed practitioner, it is not uncommon for a Member to be involved in a matter in which another Member has been instructed on the other side or has been appointed as arbitrator.

The Set includes former members and officials of foreign ministries, international organisations and international courts and tribunals. Members maintain strong links with the academy, holding professorial chairs and teaching public international law at leading universities around the world. They regularly publish on the field and are frequently invited to speak at major conferences.

The Set has chambers in both London and Singapore. Members are qualified in multiple jurisdictions and have both common law and civil law backgrounds. Working language skills include French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin.

The Set has a proud legacy and reputation for effective handling of challenging, complex and sensitive public international law mandates. It continues to be home to leaders in the field, building on the foundations laid by luminaries such as Lord (Arnold) McNair, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht and Sir Arthur Watts.

Further information on Members’ capabilities in public international law and international investment arbitration are available through the links.