Public International Law

"McNair has unrivalled experience and expertise in advising and representing States on highly sensitive and complex matters." (Senior Government official, Asian State)

In this most specialised of areas, we have advised and represented on complex commercial and international law matters involving more than 60 States, including the USA, UK, India, Kenya and Argentina.

We have been involved in cutting edge cases before the national courts relating to State and Diplomatic Immunity, and have extensively advised States as well as commercial parties on the impact of UN/EU/US/UK sanctions.  Our practitioners have frequently appeared before the International Court of Justice.  We regularly advise on the drafting and negotiation of high value commercial agreements engaging State and diplomatic immunity issues.

Our Head was legal adviser to Bosnia of the Dayton Peace Talks in 1995, participatied in the negotiation and drafting of the ICC Statute in 1998, and regularly advises States on UN and inter-State treaty matters.

Our practitioners have taught public international law at leading universities worldwide, and have also written widely on matters of international law, having authored Advisory Opinions of the International Court of Justice (Wildys, 2018) and Public International Law Before the English Courts (Wildys, 2016), as well as having published and contributed to academic and legal journals regularly on state immunity, diplomatic immunity, the right to consular access and sanctions.

Examples of our engagements are set out below. For more details of our experience in specific sectors or jurisdictions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Acted for the claimant on a judicial review arising out of the British Government’s publicly-admitted intention to act in breach of international law in the context of the UK Internal Market Bill

  • Advising a sovereign State on sovereign and diplomatic immunity issues in respect of a former Head of State

  • High Commissioner of Pakistan v Natwest & Ors – advised and represented the Claimant in respect of claim to funds held by the Defendant since 1948, involving issues of waiver of State immunity and Act of State

  • Advised a major State on issues relating to diplomatic immunity in respect of judicial review and potential criminal proceedings in England

  • Advising on issues arising out of the European Patent Convention

  • Advising on public international law issues concerning the development of an environmental law treaty

  • Acted as sole advocate for Pakistan in proceedings brought by India in the International Court of Justice (India v Pakistan (The Jadhav Case))

  • Successfully defeating a claim to State Immunity against enforcement of an arbitral award against a State’s assets

  • Advising and representing a State on issues concerning an inter-state treaty

  • Advising and representing a State on issues concerning property rights subsequent to independence and Inter-State Bilateral Treaty issues

  • Advising on the enforcement of a judgment against a State subject to UN/EU Sanctions

  • Advising an International Organisation upon its Immunity from Jurisdiction (Headquarters agreement) and international constitutional issues

  • Advising a State on an ad-hoc arbitration agreement entered into with another State in respect of sensitive political issues

  • Campaign Against the Arms Trade v. FCO and MOD – Khawar Qureshi QC appointed as the first ever Special Advocate in an appeal before the Information Tribunal relating to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents evidencing sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia since 1969. Cross-examined various witnesses in closed sessions.

  • Re: X – advising and representing State authorities in respect of a challenge to extradition of an individual allegedly implicated in an attempted coup

  • Advising a leading EU Bank in respect of US Sanctions enforcement

  • Re: Evans v. MOD/FCO – Special Advocate in Judicial Review proceedings concerning alleged mistreatment of prisoners returned to Afghan authorities by UK forces

  • Revision of the Judgment of 23 May 2008 in the case concerning Sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore) – represented the Malaysian Government in seeking to review an earlier decision of the International Court of Justice conferring sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh to Singapore. The case was withdrawn before the hearing

  • Timor-Leste and Australia – advised the Government of the Republic of Timor-Leste in relation to a dispute over the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea between Timor-Leste and Australia

  • Advocate to the English High Court in Kensington International v Congo concerning specific performance, injunctive relief and service of proceedings against a State arising out of a debt obligation

  • Junior Counsel to the Attorney General of England & Wales in the first ever prosecution and trial for the crime of torture – the Zardad case (3 month trial at the Old Bailey, London)

  • Counsel for the US Government before the House of Lords in the challenge to the extradition of individuals implicated in the bombing of the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998

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