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‘An innovative and progressive set that continues to be instructed in high-profile and often law-defining cases.’Chambers and Partners 2014
Prof Philippe Sands QC

Contact: Practice Manager:

Professor Sands is an academic member of Matrix.

Over recent years, Philippe Sands QC has developed a practice in general international law, covering a wide range of subjects.

Areas in which he currently advises and litigates include:

  • maritime boundary disputes in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans;
  • international claims relating to natural resources, pollution and environmental assessment;
  • international trade disputes, including agricultural preferences and genetically modified organisms;
  • issues relating to the immunity of serving and former heads of state from the jurisdiction of national and international courts;
  • international claims relating to the use of force and allegations of torture and genocide and other violations of fundamental human rights;
  • cases relating to individual violations of international criminal laws.

He has appeared before many international courts, including the European Court of Justice; the International Court of Justice; the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement organs; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; the International Criminal Court; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has appeared in arbitrations under the rules of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Chamber of Commerce; the World Bank Inspection Panel; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone). Philippe also appears before the English courts.

More recently Philippe has accepted appointments as an arbitrator in several cases under ICSID and UNCITRAL rules. He is on the list of arbitrators in the field of natural resources and the environment maintained by the Secretary General to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and is a designated Member of the Panel of Arbitrators established by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Having accepted an appointment as ICSID arbitrator, since July 2007 he has not accepted new instructions to act as counsel in investment treaty arbitrations. In June 2011, he was appointed to the panel of arbitrators of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), and has been appointed as arbitrator in several cases since September 2011.

His academic publications include Bowett’s Law of International Institutions (Sweet & Maxwell, 6th edition, 2009), From Nuremberg to The Hague (CUP, 2003), Principles of International Environmental Law (CUP, 3rd edition, 2012, with Jacqueline Peel), and The Manual of International Courts and Tribunals (2nd ed., 2010, OUP, co-editor).

His other writings include Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free (Penguin/Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and Lawless World (Penguin, 2005).

Philippe co-directs the Project on International Courts and Tribunals (PICT) at London University and New York University. He has served as Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. In 2011 he was appointed by the UK government as a member of the Commission on a Bill of Rights.

For details of Philippe Sands’ case law practice and arbitrations, please see his expertise page on our UK website.

Philippe accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.

Should you wish to instruct Philippe, his Senior Practice Manager Paul Venables would be delighted to discuss your requirements. Paul can be reached on e-mail at, or by telephone on +44 (0)20 7611 9405.

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