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  • 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

    Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict

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    Sean Aughey and Rupert Paines appointed to Treasury panels

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Sean Aughey

Sean Aughey

Sean Aughey

Practice Overview

Sean specialises in public international law, international arbitration (particularly investor-State arbitration) and public law. Sean is recommended in the Legal Directories as a leading junior for both public international law and international arbitration. He is described as “one of the best public international law juniors at his level; possibly the best” with “one of the sharpest minds”, “unparalleled” knowledge and “excellent” skills. Sean was appointed Junior Counsel to the Crown (the Attorney General’s Public International Law C Panel) in 2017. 

Notable cases include: before the UK Supreme Court, Belhaj v. Straw concerning alleged HMG complicity in extraordinary rendition and torture, state immunity and foreign act of state (for HMG); Serdar Mohammed v. MOD concerning legality of detention of suspected militants by UK armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Crown act of state doctrine (for HMG); two cases before the International Court of Justice, including the Ukraine v. Russia case concerning alleged terrorism financing and racial discrimination (for Russia); before ICSID tribunals, Al Jazeera v. Egypt concerning interference with the operations of a media organisation and its journalists (for Al Jazeera); and before foreign courts, Minister of Justice v. SALC (South Africa Constitutional Court), the Al-Bashir head of State immunity case (for Amnesty International, amicus). 

He advises regularly on international law matters, including questions concerning treaty interpretation, State immunity, investment protection, sanctions, human rights, international humanitarian law and dispute settlement procedures. 

Sean is an Adjunct Professor in Public International Law at Pepperdine University School of Law. He previously held academic positions as a Visiting Scholar (EALS) at Harvard Law School and as a Bye Fellow and College Lecturer in Law at Downing College, Cambridge. 

He has experience of working in a leading boutique law firm, Government (as an FCO assistant legal advisor) and international organisations (European Court of Human Rights). Sean is comfortable working as a member of a counsel team, sole junior to a leader and as sole counsel. 

RECOMMENDATIONS 

One of the best public international law juniors at his level, possibly the best; his knowledge his unparalleled” - Legal 500 2016, Public International Law 

One of the sharpest minds at the junior end of the arbitration and public international law Bar” - Legal 500 2016, International Arbitration 

Quick to grasp the essential issues; he is destined for great things” - Legal 500 2015, Public International Law 

His skills are excellent; he is a very strong junior in the area of public international law” - Legal 500 2015, International Arbitration 

His submissions are “scholarly, well researched and cogent” - UKEAT/0192/11/DA 

SPECIALISMS

1.    International arbitration 

Sean is regularly instructed by various Governments and by claimants 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. Notable cases include: 

  • Al Jazeera v. Egypt, ICSID Case No. ARB/16/1, acting for the Claimant in a dispute under a BIT regarding interference with media organisation and journalists (led by Toby Landau QC) 
  • Alghanim v. Jordan, ICSID Case No. ARB/13/38, acting for Jordan in a dispute under a BIT regarding taxation of a telecoms investor (led by Sam Wordsworth QC) 
  • Singapore High Court: Kingdom of Lesotho v. Swissbourgh Diamond Mines HC/OS 492/2016. Acting for Lesotho before the Singapore courts with respect to proceedings challenging an arbitral award rendered by an investor-State tribunal concerning alleged expropriation of mining rights arising from Lesotho’s participation in the decision-making of an international organisation. 
  • Tethyan v. Pakistan, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/1, acting for Pakistan in a dispute under a BIT regarding refusal of a mining licence (led by Cherie Blair QC) 
  • Karmer v. Georgia, ICSID Case No. ARB/08/19, acting for the Claimant in a dispute under a BIT regarding interference with construction and hospitality projects (with Volterra Fietta) 
  • Investor v. State (for the Claimant), dispute under a BIT and the SCC Rules regarding treatment of a bank (led by Stephen Fietta, details not public) 
  • Investor v. State (ICSID), dispute under a BIT regarding expropriation of a mining concession. 
  • Tethyan v. Balochistan, ICC Case No. 18347/VRO/AGF, acting for the Respondent in a dispute under a joint venture contract regarding refusal of a mining licence (led by Cherie Blair QC and Graham Dunning QC) 
  • Kilic v. Turkmenistan (ICSID), dispute under a BIT regarding mistreatment of a construction investor. 
  • Annex VII UNCLOS arbitration: Mauritius v. United Kingdom (Marine Protected Area of the British Indian Ocean Territory), advising the UK 

Sean is a member of the team analysing the jurisdictional decisions of investor-State arbitration tribunals for InvestmentClaims.com (a leading OUP database), and an editor of the Young ICCA Blog. 

2.    Public international law  

Sean is instructed regularly by various Governments and has appeared as counsel before the International Court of Justice, the UK Supreme Court and investor-State arbitration tribunals. Notable cases include: 

  • ICJ: Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation), Provisional Measures (counsel for Russia) 
  • ICJ: details confidential 
  • ICSID: Al Jazeera Media Network v. Egypt, ICSID Case No. ARB/16/1. Acting for Al Jazeera in a dispute under a BIT regarding interference with the operations of a media organisation and its journalists. Led by Toby Landau QC. 
  • UKSC: Serdar Mohammed v. Ministry of Defence; Rahmatullah (No 2) v. Ministry of Defence [2017] UKSC 1. Successfully acted for the Government Appellants in striking out tort claims challenging legality of detention of suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq on the ground of the Crown act of state doctrine. Led by James Eadie QC, Karen Steyn QC and Sam Wordsworth QC. 
  • UKSC: Belhaj and anor v. Straw and Ors [2017] UKSC 3. Acted for the Government in its appeal on state immunity and foreign act of state. Concerned whether claims of complicity in unlawful detention and mistreatment overseas at the hands of foreign state officials are properly triable in the English courts. Sole junior led by Rory Philips QC, Sam Wordsworth QC and Karen Steyn QC. 
  • Singapore High Court: Kingdom of Lesotho v. Swissbourgh Diamond Mines HC/OS 492/2016. Acting for Lesotho before the Singapore courts with respect to proceedings challenging an arbitral award rendered by an investor-State tribunal concerning alleged expropriation of mining rights arising from Lesotho’s participation in the decision-making of an international organisation. 
  • South Africa Constitutional Court: Minister of Justice v. SALC. Acted for Amnesty International as amicus curiae in the Al Bashir head of state immunity case concerning South Africa’s failure to arrest President Al Bashir and surrender him to the ICC. Appeal withdrawn by South Africa following its withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC. Led by Sudhanshu Swaroop QC. 
  • Annex VII UNCLOS arbitration: Mauritius v. United Kingdom (Marine Protected Area of the British Indian Ocean Territory), advising the UK 
  • R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No. 3) [2013] EWHC 1502 (Admin) (inadmissibility of diplomatic documents), advising the UK FCO 
  • Advising the Albanian Compensation and Restitution Agency, a State entity, on the compatibility with the ECHR of Albania's proposed new draft law on redress for mass expropriation under the former Communist regime
  • R (Noor Khan) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2014] EWCA Civ 24 (alleged UK liability in relation to drone strikes; foreign act of state and non-justiciability), assisting Karen Steyn 
  • Haqim and others v Secretary of State for Defence (jurisdiction over and justiciability of habeas corpus applications and ECHR claims), assisting Karen Steyn 
  • ECtHR: Brough v. UK (right to strike and collective bargaining), assisting Daniel Stilitz QC 
  • ECtHR: Roffey v. UK (right to strike and collective bargaining), as a stagiaire at the ECtHR 
  • ICTY: Prosecutor v. Popovic et al (conspiracy to commit genocide), assisting counsel for the Seventh Defendant 

3.    Public law and human rights 

Sean has significant experience of public law and human rights, especially cases concerning the relationship between English law and the ECHR and public international law. He has been involved in some of the most significant cases involving national security, international relations, and the armed forces. Notable cases include: 

  • Serdar Mohammed v. Ministry of Defence; Rahmatullah (No 2) v. Ministry of Defence [2017] UKSC 1. Successfully acted for the Government Appellants in striking out tort claims challenging legality of detention of suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq on the ground of the Crown act of state doctrine. Led by James Eadie QC, Karen Steyn QC and Sam Wordsworth QC. 
  • Belhaj and anor v. Straw and Ors [2017] UKSC 3. Acted for the Government in its appeal on state immunity and foreign act of state. Concerned whether claims of complicity in unlawful detention and mistreatment overseas at the hands of foreign state officials are properly triable in the English courts. Sole junior led by Rory Philips QC, Sam Wordsworth QC and Karen Steyn QC. 
  • SACC: Minister of Justice v. SALC, South Africa Constitutional Court. Acted for Amnesty International as amicus curiae in the Al Bashir head of state immunity case concerning South Africa’s failure to arrest President Al Bashir and surrender him to the ICC. Appeal withdrawn by South Africa following its withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC. Led by Sudhanshu Swaroop QC. 
  • X and Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis v. Z (Children) [2015] EWCA Civ 34. Successfully acted for the MPS in the first case considering police handling of DNA data since Marper v UK (led by Anya Proops). 
  • R (Noor Khan) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2014] EWCA Civ 24 (alleged UK liability in relation to drone strikes; foreign act of state and non-justiciability), assisting Karen Steyn 
  • Haqim and others v Secretary of State for Defence (jurisdiction over and justiciability of habeas corpus applications and ECHR claims), assisting Karen Steyn 
  • ECtHR: Brough v. UK (right to strike and collective bargaining), assisting Daniel Stilitz QC 
  • ECtHR: Roffey v. UK (right to strike and collective bargaining), as a stagiaire at the ECtHR 
  • R (Governing Body of Uplands Junior School) v Leicester City Council [2013] EWHC 4128 (Admin); [2014] ELR 157, QBD. Successfully acted for the Council in the first case considering the exercise of school intervention powers (led by Clive Sheldon QC). 

He is a member of ALBA and previously volunteered with Liberty’s advice and information department.

4.    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). 

NEWS, ARTICLES AND PUBLICATIONS

  • ‘Armed Drones and Judicial Review’, PLP Judicial Review Conference, October 2016.
  • ‘When should there be a duty to investigate UK military action abroad’, Public Law Project conference on Inquiries, Investigations and the Law, 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.
  • Case note published in the European Procurement and Public Private Partnership Law Review (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.
  • Lecture on ‘International Boundary Law’, University of London, 2011.
  • ‘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. 

EDUCATION 

University of Cambridge, Downing College, LL.M 

University of Cambridge, Downing College, BA (Hons) 

The Hague Academy of International Law 

Harvard Law School, Visiting Scholar (EALS)

OTHER 

Scholarships and prizes

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

  • International Law Fund Scholarship, Lauterpacht Centre of International Law
  • Association Prize, Downing College
  • Harris Prize for Especial Distinction, Downing College
  • Buchanan Prize, Downing College
  • Graystone Prize, Downing College
  • Harris Scholar and Senior Harris Scholar, Downing College
  • Rebecca Flower Squire Scholarship, University of Cambridge
  • Lord Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Hardwicke Award, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Grant to undertake traineeship at the ECtHR in Strasbourg, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Grant to participate in the international rounds of the Jessup Moot Competition, Lincoln’s Inn

Professional Associations 

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

Regulatory Information

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Professional title: Barrister


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Sean Aughey


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