Ben Emmerson QC.jpg

Ben Emmerson CBE KC (Advisory Council Member) Guernica 37

Ben Emmerson CBE C is a specialist leading counsel in public international law and international corporate risk management.  He is a partner at leading firm, King & Spalding, where he is also serves as the Global Head of Public International Law.

Emmerson is an accomplished courtroom advocate with 35 years’ experience representing sovereign States, as well as individual and corporate clients before international courts and tribunals, including more than 20 cases in the UK Supreme Court and its predecessor the House of Lords, and more than 30 cases at the European Court of Human Rights. Emmerson was previously a member at Doughty Street Chambers before founding Matrix Chambers in 2000, the same year he was awarded Queen’s Counsel (QC) status. He was most recently at Monckton Chambers. A versatile litigator, he has appeared at the highest appellate levels, in numerous leading cases, across a range of disciplines within public international law and international criminal law, including territorial disputes, the law of armed conflict, national security, international criminal law, sanctions law, international criminal cartel and bribery investigations, and international human rights law.

Emmerson was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last month for services to international law. He previously served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and as a judge of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. He has also served as a Deputy High Court Judge. He is a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple, a Visiting Professor of International Law and Security at the University of Oxford, and an Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford. He also holds an honorary PhD from the University of Bristol. Emmerson is highly-ranked in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500.



Public International Law

Represented claimants in the landmark case Osman v United Kingdom, (2000)

Represented Smith and Grady v United Kingdom, (2000) 29 EHRR 493, in a challenge to the UK government's ban on homosexuals serving in the British armed forces

Represented McGonnell v UK (2000) 30 EHRR 289 which eventually led to the creation of the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court

Representing Fogarty v United Kingdom (2002) 24 EHRR 12, concerning a claim by a former employee of the US Embassy in London who had been prevented from pursuing an employment law dispute with the Embassy, when the US Government asserted both diplomatic and State immunity

Represented the British Government in two cases where he defended the Government against a claim alleging that the United Kingdom’s broad protection of Parliamentary privilege is a violation of the right of access to court under Article 6 of the European Convention

Representing the successful legal challenge to the counter-terrorism measures enacted by the Government of Prime Minister Tony Blair following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States

Represented successfully in the House of Lords that the detention of terrorist suspects could not be justified by reference to evidence obtained by acts of torture committed abroad by the agents of a foreign state

Represented the Government at the European Court of Human Rights in the national security context concerning a terrorist murder in which a number of innocent people were killed or injured and acted as lead counsel concerning the procedure for determining allegations of criminal contempt of court

Appeared as lead counsel in many of the major cases in the European Court of Human Rights challenging public order and counter-terrorism measures introduced by the British Government

Represented Ramush Haradinaj, the former Prime Minister of Kosovo, on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, concerning the conflict of 1998 and 1999

Represented Croatia in its inter-State case against Serbia at the International Court of Justice under the 1948 Genocide Convention

Represented Mohamed Nasheed – the first democratically elected President of the Maldives, who was deposed and then imprisoned by the regime of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, leading to his appointment as international envoy for the Maldives opposition in a dialogue initiative at the United Nations

Represented Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, arguing that the Government of Spain had violated his right to participate in political life through a "repressive" legal crackdown, following an independence referendum in Catalonia in October 2017

Represented Georgia in an inter-State case against the Russian Federation, alleging that Russian forces and their proxies in the separatist movements in South Ossetia and Abkhazia committed war crimes during the invasion of Georgia in 2008, and the subsequent occupation of Georgian territory

Represented the Government of Ukraine in a series of inter-State case against Russia arising out of the 2014 occupation and purported annexation of Crimea; the promotion of territorial dispute and armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) and the downing to Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014

International Corporate Defense and Risk Management

Represented “Guinness Four”, in seeking to overturn their convictions for market manipulation offences, allegedly committed through the adoption of a share support scheme, aimed at artificially inflating the share price of Guinness PLC prior to a take-over of Distillers

Represented Shailesh Vithlani the intermediary agent allegedly used by BAE systems to pay £12 million in bribes to officials in Tanzania in order to secure contracts for the supply of sophisticated Air Traffic Control equipment to the Government of Tanzania

Represented four British Airways executives in the first criminal cartel prosecution in the United Kingdom, brought by the Office of Fair Trading arising out of an alleged price-fixing agreement between Virgin and British Airways in connection with the “passenger fuel surcharge” on translantic flights

Devised the legal strategy that secured the collapse of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the business affairs of property tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz

Representing Low Taek Jho, the Malaysian financier alleged to be responsible for widescale fraud at 1MDB, an investment vehicle used by Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund

Representing a number of internationally high-profile investors who have been the subject of bogus fraud allegations made by the Russian Federation for political reasons, and pursued internationally through Interpol

Representing companies on their liabilities arising out of international, regional and unilateral sanctions

Business and Human Rights Law

Representing Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind, developing a framework for the application of international law, and particularly international human rights law, to the development of AI technology

Representing Facebook on its obligations under international human rights law and international criminal law, in connection with the misuse of its platform for spreading hate speech and inciting ethnic violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar

Representing Swedish oil company Lundin in connection with an ongoing prosecution in Sweden for aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sudan, arising from the company’s continuing operations during the civil war in the country

Acting in connection with the French prosecution of cement company Lafarge for paying protection money to ISIS in Syria. The company is charged with financing terrorism and aiding and abetting crimes against humanity

National Security

Represented numerous terrorism cases in the United Kingdom and elsewhere

Representing governments and companies on national security questions