Timothy Otty QC
Year of call: 1990
Appointed to silk: 2006
Degree: MA, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1989
Tim’s practice spans the full range of Chambers’ work. He is widely recognised as a leading practitioner in public international law, sanctions law, public law and civil liberties and human rights law and, having practiced principally in commercial law as a junior barrister, has extensive experience of commercial disputes particularly with an international dimension. In addition to his work at the Bar he is currently the UK’s representative on the Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law, the Venice Commission. He has also been a visiting fellow or lecturer at the London School of Economics and Oxford University and in 2017 he was made a Visiting Professor at Kings College London. In 2018 he was appointed to the UK's Steering Board relating to the OECD guidelines governing business, human rights and anti-corruption measures. He took silk in 2006 as the youngest in his year, and has, since then enjoyed wide experience as Leading Counsel at all levels of United Kingdom courts, other Commonwealth domestic courts, and a range of international courts and tribunals. He has appeared in more than 40 cases before the European Court of Human Rights and acted in an advisory capacity to United Nations office holders. Among his most significant cases are successful challenges to the death penalty in Turkey, to the denial of habeas corpus rights for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and to the criminalisation of consensual homosexual conduct in the Commonwealth. In 2017 he appeared before the Supreme Court for the successful parties in two leading cases concerning state immunity and diplomatic immunity and human trafficking. He is currently involved as Counsel in a number of multi-billion dollar State arbitrations raising issues of public international law. He also sits as an arbitrator in international arbitrations.
Tim has been cited in the independent legal directories as a leader in Public International Law, Civil Liberties & Human Rights Law, Public and Administrative law and Sanctions law for a number of years and is one of only 15 UK silks at the Bar ranked in Chambers Global 2019 in Public International Law. He has also been called to the Bar of Belize, the Bar of the British Virgin Islands, the Bar of Gibraltar (ad hoc) and the Bar of Ireland.
Public International Law
In recent years Tim’s public international law work has had a particular focus on economic sanctions and all aspects of state immunity. As a result of his commercial law experience he is also able to act in ICSID, NAFTA and ad hoc investor-State disputes. He is currently acting as Counsel in a number of multi-billion dollar State arbitration claims relating to the energy and mining sectors and is sitting as an arbitrator in a multimillion dollar dispute relating to a hydroelectric power plant. He also has particular and long established expertise in state and diplomatic immunity human rights, humanitarian law and constitutional law.
Between 2013 and 2018 Tim has acted in sanctions disputes relating to Egypt, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Zimbabwe (as well as the Al Qaeda sanctions regimes) before both the domestic and European Courts, and in the same period he has appeared in cases raising issues of state and diplomatic immunity concerning Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey.
In recent years he has also acted as an adviser to a number of overseas territories and state entities in the Caribbean and the Middle East as well as to United Nations office holders. In 2013 and 2014 he was involved in major constitutional challenges in Belize and Singapore and in 2008 and 2009 he was Counsel to the Tribunal in Constitutional Tribunals of Inquiry held in both Gibraltar and the Cayman Islands.
Since 1996 Tim has appeared in more than 40 cases before the European Court of Human Rights and three cases before the US Supreme Court. He has particular experience of cases concerned with internal conflict and claims to secession having acted in cases concerned with the Kurdish conflict in South East Turkey, the Chechen conflict in the Russian Federation, and the Russian incursion into South Ossetia.
Tim is an acknowledged expert in the law of armed conflict and between 2006 and 2014 taught at the London School of Economics on the highly acclaimed post-graduate course “Law, War and Human Rights”. He has also provided judicial training in international law for the International Bar Association and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Croatia, Hungary, the Palestine territories, Turkey and Serbia and has taught at the Georgetown University human rights law summer school. Tim was a visiting fellow at Oxford University in the year 2009/2010 and has taught on the BCL course there. He is currently a Visiting Professor at Kings’ College London.
Between 2014 and 2016 Tim acted as an international trial observer in proceedings in Serbia and Georgia. Previous trial observation / human rights fact – finding work has embraced Northern Ireland, Greece and Turkey.
Tim is ranked in Chambers Global 2017 in Public International Law.
Civil Liberties & Human Rights
Tim has appeared before domestic and international courts in some of the most high profile civil liberties and human rights cases of recent times.
Between 2004 and 2008 he acted for amicus curiae in three cases relating to the Guantanamo Bay detentions before the United States Supreme Court.
Between 2005 and 2009 he appeared before the House of Lords in a series of cases relating to admissibility of evidence obtained by torture and the impact of Article 6 of the European Convention on anti-terrorist legislation.
Since 1996 he has appeared in over forty cases before the European Court of Human Rights and in 2009 and 2010 he appeared before the Privy Council in two cases relating to judicial misconduct in Gibraltar and in the Cayman Islands.
In 2008 and 2010 he appeared for the Government of the Russian Federation in major extradition proceedings relating to financial fraud.
Between 2008 and the settlement of the claims in 2010 he acted as Leading Counsel in damages claims brought by former Guantanamo detainees against the United Kingdom’s Security Services for complicity in torture. Between 2010 and 2015 he acted in further proceedings seeking to secure the release of the remaining former UK resident detainee, Shaker Aamer until his release in 2015.
In 2012 Tim appeared in the first case concerning the replacement for control orders, TPIMs. In 2013 he acted in a series of cases in the European Court of Human Rights and between 2013 and 2016 he acted as an international trial observer in proceedings in Serbia and Georgia.
Between 2014 and 2017 he acted for domestic employees of foreign embassies based in the United Kingdom in successful challenges to the State Immunity Act based on the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Over the same period he has been involved in further challenges to diplomatic immunity in the context of human trafficking. The Supreme Court handed down judgment in both sets of proceedings in October 2017.
In 2013 and 2014 he acted in constitutional challenges to the criminalisation of consensual homosexual conduct in the High Court of Belize and the High Court of Singapore.
Since 2010 Tim has been involved in a series of challenges to economic sanctions at both the domestic and European level. He has acted in cases arising out of each of the Al Qaeda, Egypt, Iran, Russia, Syria and Zimbabwe regimes and appeared for the Claimant in the first decisions to recognise the jurisdiction of the English Courts to review the UK's conduct in proposing individuals for sanctions at the European level and United Nations level. He has also acted in an advisory capacity in relation to commercial transactions potentially impacted by sanctions regimes. He is currently instructed by private individuals and financial institutions in a series of separate judicial reviews relating to UN, UK or EU asset freezing regimes as well as in proceedings
before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. He is also providing advice as to the impact of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 and United States sanctions regimes. Much of Tim’s work in this area remains confidential but his most prominent cases include, Youssef v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Divisional Court & Court of Appeal) (2012 & 2013) (Supreme Court 2016), Bank Mellat v Her Majesty’s Treasury (Court of Appeal, Administrative Court, and Commercial Court (2014-2018), and John Bredenkamp v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2012-2015) (Administrative Court) which are all detailed below.
Tim has substantial experience of major commercial litigation before both the Commercial Court and domestic and international arbitral tribunals. In recent times his commercial work has involved a particular focus on cases involving issues of private international law and public international law and he is currently sitting as an arbitrator in a number of substantial international arbitrations. He has been involved in a series of cases involving allegations of large scale fraud both in this jurisdiction and internationally and spanning the insurance and reinsurance industry, commodities transactions and oil supply contracts. He has acted for major accountancy firms in claims relating to allegedly negligent share valuations and has a particular expertise in private international law and all aspects of media related commercial litigation including ownership disputes over valuable paintings and manuscripts, contractual distributorship and licensing disputes, and the pursuit of injunctive relief relating to Article 8 privacy rights. His experience of international human rights law has also led to his involvement in asset freezing cases relating to UN Security Council resolutions and European Union Regulations.
Tim is currently instructed by a number of multi-national companies facing trans-national tort and proprietary claims raising important jurisdictional questions and the foreign act of state principle and issues of proper law. These claims also involve consideration of the significance for private law claims of the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights - the Ruggie Principles.
Public & Regulatory
Tim has extensive experience of regulatory disputes across a wide range of professional disciplines. He was Leading Counsel to the Levers Inquiry in the Cayman Islands and Leading Counsel to the Schofield Inquiry in Gibraltar, and appeared in both cases before the Privy Council. Both decisions are now among the leading authorities on questions of judicial misconduct and apparent bias. He has acted for the Financial Conduct Authority in the Upper Tribunal, and the Court of Appeal, as well as in an advisory capacity in a range of matters raising public law and human rights issues. He has acted in an advisory capacity for HM Inspectorate of the Constabulary, and for a number of United Nations agencies and office holders. He is an accredited RICS Expert and in 2016 acted as Chair in a dispute concerning RICS Governing Council conduct and membership. He has appeared as Counsel for the Nursing and Midwifery Council before the Court of Appeal. He has also acted as both arbitrator and Counsel in sports related matters.
Rule of Law
Tim has over 25 years’ experience of rule of law work dating back to his time at the European Commission of Human Rights. Between 2010 and 2015 he served on the Human Rights Advisory Council of the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon William Hague. In 2017 he was appointed a Professor at Kings College London and in 2018 he was appointed to the Steering Board of the United Kingdom’s National Contact Point relating to the OECD’s Business and Good Governance Guidelines. He has acted as an advisor to United Nations office holders and has acted as Counsel or advisor to a range of sovereign States. He has acted as Counsel to Inquiries relating to judicial misconduct in two separate overseas territories. He has also conducted judicial training programmes for the International Bar Association, the Council of Europe and others in a number of different jurisdictions. His experience as an advocate or advisor has embraced work in relation to the constitutional and legal systems of Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Gibraltar, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Macedonia, Mozambique, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Syria, Zimbabwe, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He has also acted as an international trial observer in cases raising due process and human rights issues in Brazil, Georgia, Greece, Northern Ireland, Serbia and Turkey and has represented individuals seeking to challenge Interpol's maintenance of Red Notices and data before the Interpol Commission for the Control of Files.
- Appointed as UK representative to Council of Europe Commission for Democracy through Law, the Venice Commission (2019)
- Appointed to the Advisory Board of Clooney Foundation TrialWatch (2019)
- Call to the Bar of Belize (2018)
- Call to the Bar of Gibraltar (Ad hoc) (2018)
- Appointed to UK Steering Board for National Contact Point relating to OECD Guidelines (2018-)
- Call to the Bar of the Republic of Ireland (2017) Visiting Professor Kings College London (2017-)
- Arbitrator member London Chamber of Arbitration (2017-) Accredited Appointments Expert, RICS (2016-)
- Associate Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (2016-)
- Visiting Fellow specialising in Public International law, Kings College London (2016-)
- Barrister of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Territory of the British Virgin Islands (2014-)
- Trustee British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2011-2013) Appointed to the Sports Advocacy Section of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Pro Bono Legal Advice and Representation Service
- Founder and Chair of Trustees Human Dignity Trust (2011-2016)
- Member of the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Group (2010-2015) Member UNHCR Pro Bono Panel (2010-)
- Appointed Queen's Counsel
- Visiting Fellow Mansfield College Oxford (2009-2010) Editorial Board European Human Rights Law Review (2009-)
- Executive Committee Human Rights Lawyers Association (2009-2016) Treasury Counsel ''A Panel'' (2003-2006)
- Vice Chair Bar of England and Wales Human Rights Committee (2006-2010)
- Council and Executive Committee Member Commonwealth Lawyers Association (2004-2012, 2017-)
- Stagiaire European Commission of Human Rights (1993) Call to the Bar of England and Wales
Public International Law
- Al Ribiai v Government of Kuwait (2010) (QBD) Tribunal of Inquiry re Madam Justice Levers (2009) Tribunal of Inquiry re Chief Justice of Gibraltar (2008)
- Boumediene and Others v George W Bush and Others (US Supreme Court) (2008)
- Hamdan v Rumsfeld (US Supreme Court) (2006) - application of Geneva
- Conventions to Guantanamo Bay detentions
- Ocalan v Turkey (2005) - death penalty held to have no place in modern democratic society and to breach Articles 3 and 6 of European Convention.
- Rasul v Bush (US Supreme Court) (2004) - availability of statutory right to habeas corpus at Guantanamo Bay.
Civil Liberties & Human Rights
- Secretary of State for the Home Department v CC and CF (2011) (Admin Court) CC v Commissioner of Police (2011) (Admin Court)
- R (Evans) v The Lord Chancellor & Anor (2011) Divisional Court M1 v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2011)
- (SIAC) JI v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2011) SIAC
- XY v International Paralympic Committee (Court of Arbitration for Sport) (2011) Re Madam Justice Levers (Privy Council) (2010)
- Dudko v Government of the Russian Federation (Divisional Court) (2010)
- Carson and Others v UK (Grand Chamber European Court of Human Rights) (2010)
- Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF & AE (Admin Court and Court of Appeal) (2010)
- Secretary of State for the Home Department v Al Saadi (Admin Court) (2009) Al Rawi and Others v Security Services and Others (QBD) (2009)
- Re Chief Justice of Gibraltar (Privy Council) (2009)
- Secretary of State for the Home Department v AF (House of Lords) (2009)
- Shering v Halcyon Galleries and Others (QBD - 2000) ownership dispute relating to Sir William Russell Flint painting
Complete version of the cv