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  • Sean Aughey
    Areas of Practice

  • Commercial
  • Commercial - Business Protection
  • Commercial - Commercial Contract
  • Commercial Judicial Review
  • Education
  • Employment
  • European Union
  • Human Rights
  • Information
  • Media Law
  • Mediation / Arbitration
  • Pensions
  • Procurement and State Aid
  • Professional Discipline and Regulatory Law
  • Public
  • Public International Law
  • Activity from
    Sean Aughey

  • Recent cases

    Karen Steyn QC, Julian Blake and Sean Aughey in 3 Supreme Court cases

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    X and Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis v. Z (Children)

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  • Article

    Targeting and Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict: Serdar Mohammed and the Limits of Human Rights Convergence

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  • News

    Sean Aughey and Rupert Paines appointed to Treasury panels

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    Sean Aughey spoke at the Public Law Project judicial review conference.

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Sean Aughey

Sean Aughey

Sean Aughey

Practice Overview

Sean Aughey is recognised as a leading junior in international arbitration and public international law. Legal 500 2015 says Sean is “quick to grasp the essential issues” and that “his skills are excellent”. The independent directory adds that he is “a very strong junior in the field of public international law” and that he is “destined for great things”. One judgment described Sean’s written and oral submissions as “well researched and cogent” (UKEAT/0192/11/DA).

Sean has experience of working in private practice, government and international organisations. In 2015, Sean became the first self-employed barrister to complete a secondment as a legal adviser to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Prior to joining 11KBW, Sean worked at a leading boutique public international law firm and completed a traineeship at the European Court of Human Rights.

Sean holds a BA in Law, an LL.M (2nd in year) and numerous academic scholarships and prizes from Downing College, Cambridge. He is an Adjunct Professor in Public International Law at Pepperdine University School of Law. Sean previously held positions as a Visiting Scholar (EALS) at Harvard Law School and a Bye Fellow and College Lecturer in Law at Downing. He has published widely in his fields of expertise.

Sean is registered for Public Access, which means he can be directly instructed without the need to go through a solicitor.

International arbitration

Sean is regularly instructed by claimants and respondents in international arbitration. He has particular experience of investment treaty arbitration, including under the ICSID, UNCITRAL and SCC Rules, and frequently works closely with law firms as part of a team of counsel.

Highlights of Sean’s current and recent work include:

  • Acting for the Respondent in Alghanim v. Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, ICSID Case No. ARB/13/38, a dispute under a bilateral investment treaty in relation to allegations of breach arising out of taxation in the telecommunications sector.
  • Acting for the Claimant in an investor-State dispute, in the banking sector, under a bilateral investment treaty and the SCC rules (details not public) (led by Stephen Fietta).
  • Acting for the Respondent in Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v Islamic Republic of Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1, a significant dispute under a bilateral investment treaty in relation to the refusal of a mining licence over copper and gold deposits at Reko Diq, in Pakistan (led by Cherie Blair QC).
  • Acting for the Respondent in Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited v Province of Balochistan, ICC Case No. 18347/VRO/AGF, a significant dispute under a joint venture contract, conducted in parallel to the above investment treaty dispute (led by Cherie Blair QC and Graham Dunning QC).
  • Acting for the Claimant in Karmer v Georgia, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/19, a dispute under a bilateral investment treaty in relation to wrongful State conduct in the construction and hospitality sectors (with Volterra Fietta).
  • Acting for the Claimant in Kilic v Turkmenistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/10/1, a dispute under a bilateral investment treaty in relation to interference with construction projects (with Volterra Fietta).
  • Advising a claimant in relation to an ICSID arbitration under a bilateral investment treaty in relation to expropriation of a mining concession (cannot be named for confidentiality reasons).
  • Advising a Cypriot company in an LCIA arbitration governed by English law (cannot be named for confidentiality reasons).

Sean is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is also a member of the team analysing jurisdictional decisions in investment arbitration for InvestmentClaims.com (a leading OUP database), and an editor of the Young ICCA Blog.

Public international law

Sean has advised and represented sovereign States, State entities and corporations in relation to a wide range of international law issues. These include: State immunity, international human rights, law of armed conflict, EU and UN sanctions, treaty interpretation, treaty negotiation, land and maritime boundaries and investment protection. He has experience of litigation involving matters of international law, both before domestic and international courts and tribunals.

Highlights of Sean’s current and recent work include:

  • Serdar Mohammed v Ministry of Defence (pending before the Supreme Court) (claim alleging that UK Armed Forces had no power to detain insurgents in Afghanistan; preliminary issue of Crown act of state) (led by James Eadie QC, Karen Steyn QC and Sam Wordsworth QC).
  • Belhaj v Rt Hon Jack Straw and Ors (pending before the Supreme Court) (alleged complicity in unlawful rendition and torture; preliminary issues of State immunity and foreign act of state): instructed by the Defendants (sole junior led by Rory Philips QC, Sam Wordsworth QC and Karen Steyn QC).
  • Advising the Albanian Compensation and Restitution Agency, a State entity, on Albania's proposed new draft law on redress for mass expropriation under the former Communist regime.
  • Advising the UK FCO in Mauritius v United Kingdom, Annex VII arbitration under Law of the Sea Convention in relation to a dispute over the Marine Protected Area of the British Indian Ocean Territory (‘the Chagos Islands’ case).
  • Advising the UK FCO in R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No. 3) [2013] EWHC 1502 (Admin) in relation to the inadmissibility of diplomatic documents.  
  • Serdar Mohammed v Secretary of State for Defence [2013] 2 All ER 778 (assisting Karen Steyn) - Claim alleging that UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan have no power to detain insurgents, raising questions of domestic act of state, international humanitarian law and Afghan law. Judgment reserved.
  • R (Noor Khan) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2014] EWCA Civ 24 (assisting Karen Steyn) - Claims alleging UK liability in relation to drone strikes. The Court of Appeal dismissed the claim on foreign act of state/non-justiciability grounds.
  • Haqim and others v Secretary of State for Defence (assisting Karen Steyn) - Jurisdiction over and justiciability of habeas corpus applications and ECHR claims. Claims withdrawn following voluntary transfer.
  • Advising States, corporations and individuals on the application of various EU and UN sanctions regimes.
  • Advising an Asian State on land and maritime boundary delimitation issues.
  • Assisting counsel for the Seventh Defendant in Prosecutor v Popovic et al, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
  • Preparing for the Foreign Office of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a comprehensive training program covering all aspects of public international law.

Sean regularly speaks on matters of public international law (details below).

Public law and human rights

Sean has experience of all areas of public law including local government, human rights, education, procurement and information. He is a member of ALBA and previously volunteered with Liberty’s advice and information department. Recent cases include:

  • X and Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis v. Z (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 34 (led by Anya Proops) – Successfully acted for the MPS in the first case considering police handling of DNA data since Marper v UK.
  • R (Governing Body of Uplands Junior School) v Leicester City Council [2013] EWHC 4128 (Admin); [2014] ELR 157, QBD (led by Clive Sheldon QC) – Successfully acted for the Council in the first case considering the exercise of school intervention powers.
  • Several important cases on the right to strike and collective bargaining under Article 11 ECHR including Roffey v United Kingdom (as a Stagiaire) and Brough v United Kingdom (assisting Daniel Stilitz QC).

Employment law

Sean has particular experience of employment disputes which raise questions of private international law, human rights and International Labour Organization standards. He writes the chapter on ‘Foreign Employees’ in Tolley’s Employment Law Handbook (2015).

Academic scholarships, awards and prizes

Highest examination results in the LL.M in International Dispute Settlement, International Commercial Litigation and International Human Rights.

Downing College / University of Cambridge  

  • Association Prize
  • Harris Prize for Especial Distinction
  • Buchanan Prize
  • Graystone Prize
  • Harris Scholar and Senior Harris Scholar
  • Rebecca Flower Squire Scholarship  

Lincoln’s Inn  

  • Lord Denning Scholarship
  • Hardwicke Award
  • Grant to undertake traineeship at the ECtHR in Strasbourg
  • Grant to participate in the international rounds of the Jessup Moot Competition  


  • International Law Fund Scholarship
  • Ranked within 100 best oralists worldwide in the 2011 Jessup International Law Moot Competition

Publications and Presentations

  • ‘When should there be a duty to investigate UK military action abroad’, invited speaker, Public Law Project conference on Inquiries, Investigations and the Law, forthcoming 21 April 2016.
  • ‘Uses and Abuses of Unincorporated Treaties’, Administrative Law Bar Association, 2 February 2016.
  • ‘Recent Developments: International Law in the UK Courts’, Government Legal Service International Law Conference, 14 October 2015.
  • ‘International Law in Domestic Courts’, lecture presented to the Government Legal Service’s inaugural International Law Course, 9 June 2015.
  • ‘Targeting and Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict: Serdar Mohammed and the Limits of Human Rights Convergence’, 91 International Law Studies (2015) 60-118 (with A. Sari).
  • Several short pieces on EJIL:Talk!, the Blog of the European Journal of International Law (2015).
  • Several case comments and analysis for International Law in Domestic Courts, an online database run by Oxford University Press.
  • Chapter on ‘Foreign Employees’ in Tolley’s Employment Handbook 2015 (29th ed).
  • ‘Foundations and Futures of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law’, paper presented at the 2014 ILA British Branch Spring Conference, 24 May 2014.
  • ‘Asian Attitudes towards International Law and Democracy’, panel moderator, Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations, 2012 Asia Conference (24-28 August 2012, Taipei).
  • ‘Chinese Attitudes towards Sovereignty and Non-Intervention in International Law’, Harvard Law School, EALS Seminar, May 2012.
  • ‘International Boundary Law’, University of London, 2011 (with Robert Volterra).
  • ‘Continuity and Change: Obama on Human Rights’, The World Today, January 2011.
  • ‘Transatlantic Dialogues on International Law: International Law and Human Rights’, summary of a joint Chatham House and Atlantic Council of the United States workshop held on 10-11 November 2010.
  • Case note published in the European Procurement and Public Private Partnership Law Review (2014).

Professional Associations

  • International arbitration: MCIArb, ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, LCIA Young International Arbitrators Group, Young ICSID, Young ICCA, ICDR Young & International.
  • International law: ESIL, ILA (British Branch).
  • Public law: Human Rights Lawyers Association, Administrative Law Bar Association.

Regulatory Information

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales):
Sean Aughey

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