Kirsty Sutherland


Kirsty specialises in international criminal law and military law. She is particularly interested in international humanitarian law and continues to develop her academic expertise and practical experience, both in the international criminal tribunals and before UK Court Martial. Kirsty is frequently instructed to provide advice on highly sensitive and strictly classified matters of public international law.

Background and expertise

Comfortable dealing with the most complex issues, Kirsty is adept at drafting incisive arguments and working with the vast volumes of evidence that are typical of international and cross-border cases. Kirsty is also experienced in conducting in-country investigations in hostile conditions, and can be relied on to produce work of the highest standard under the most difficult circumstances.

Away from work, Kirsty can often be found roaming with history books in hand, and maintains a keen interest in modern art, literature and poetry. Her academic background is in Philosophy, during which she particularly focused on philosophical logic and the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and she holds a Masters in Social Anthropology, in which she concentrated on the plausibility of a universal ethic. Her current academic interest is in modern conflict dynamics.

International Cases

The Prosecutor v. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud. ICC.

Associate Counsel for Mr Al Hassan. Mr Al Hassan stands accused of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Timbuktu by AQIM and ancillary groups, including against cultural property. The case is currently at trial.

Case 004, February 2015 to March 2016, April 2017 to date, ECCC

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, commonly known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, was established to bring to trial senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime and ‘those most responsible’ for alleged serious violations of international criminal law and Cambodian penal law during its 1975-1979 rule. Its nature as a hybrid domestic and international court makes the ECCC a complex and fascinating tribunal. Kirsty works as Senior Legal Consultant for the Defence for Yim Tith in the politically contentious Case 004, which is currently under judicial investigation. Kirsty’s work in Cambodia is extremely demanding and requires fluency in both adversarial and inquisitorial law and procedure.

DPRK, December 2016

IBA Kirsty appeared as counsel alongside Steven Kay KC before the International Bar Association’s Inquiry into Crimes against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons. The judicial panel comprised Navi Pillay, Thomas Buergenthal, and Mark Harmon. This innovative mechanism presents a new model for seeking accountability for the gravest crimes, even in situations of international political deadlock. The Bar Council generously awarded Kirsty a financial grant to enable her to participate in these proceedings pro bono.

R v T, May 2017, Court Martial

Junior counsel in the successful defence of a Senior British Officer accused of the rape of an United States officer in Africa. The case was the first Court Martial to be heard on both sides of the Atlantic, while evidence was taken from almost every continent. Described as an ‘exceptionally complex global investigation,’ the case involved the FBI, the RMP and other law enforcement agencies, and required understanding of foreign legal systems as well as that of the United Nations.

Read more International Cases


"When she speaks in court, the judges listen carefully to what she says. She brings something that is more academic than is traditional and that makes for very powerful submissions."(Chambers UK, 2024)
"Kirsty is an accomplished advocate at the international level who can easily digest complex information and present it in a way that benefits the client."
"She is extremely reliable, diligent and a pleasure to work with." (Chambers UK, 2023)

Other activities and interests

  • Lecturer on international law
  • Visiting Fellow of Practice with the University of Oxford’s Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict.


  • Legal Aspects of Detention in Military Detention, Encyclopaedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2nd Edition, Elsevier (2015)

PROFILE: Kirsty Sutherland

Legal 500, 2024 Chambers UK, 2024

Year called




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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption


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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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Human rights law

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020 7489 2727


University of Oxford - Master of Public Policy - Distinction

Buchanan Prize for Outstanding Achievement on the BVC

Lincoln’s Inn Lord Denning Scholarship

BVC, College of Law, 2010 (Outstanding)

GDL, College of Law, 2009 (Commendation)

MSc Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh 2007 (Distinction)

BA (Hons) Philosophy, University College London 2006


ICC List of Counsel, Criminal Bar Association, Human Rights Lawyers Association, Association of Military Court Advocates, Peace and Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch London Network, ECCC List of Legal Consultants


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