Steven Kay KC
Head of Chambers
BACKGROUND AND EXPERTISE
Steven Kay KC is the Head of 9BR Chambers, a leading set of barrister’s Chambers established in London over 70 years ago. He is a leading international criminal lawyer with a global reputation who has been in the landmark cases that have established modern international criminal law including: the first UN trial at the Yugoslavia Tribunal (Dusko Tadic); the first trial of a former Head of State (ex-President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic); the first trial at the ICC of an incumbent Head of State (President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya).
Steven is engaged by governments and organisations to challenge on their behalf prevailing international narratives and set out their case upon matters of international concern. Below are some examples - the 30 years conflict in Sri Lanka between the Tamils and the State; Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood; Montenegro Corruption and Conflicts of Interest - see Report; Human rights abuse alert Algeria; IBA report on Political Prisons in North Korea - available here; Armenia – Azerbaijan conflict https://armenia-azerbaijan-conflict.com A Report on the Lundin Case commissioned by the Board of Directors for Lundin Energy. The causes of the 2013 and 2016 conflicts in South Sudan that discredited the narratives of the UN and AU - http://southsudanreports.com/
Steven’s international fraud and corruption practice focuses upon the criminal issues arising in complex international commercial cases and transactions where he works with multi-national and multi-disciplinary teams. Steven is now engaged by clients to oversee complex national and international litigation and provide his experience and expertise to review and assist in the development of their cases. These cases include jurisdictions such as Georgia, UAE, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, BVI, Cayman Islands etc. In August 2020, in response to demands from clients for advice upon the impact of the UK Bribery Act, Steven with Richard Paton-Philip set up a 9BR Chambers UK Bribery Act International Advisory Service. View a TV interview with Steven regarding Corruption in Montenegro. In 2022 he was lead counsel in the direct access private prosecution at Southwark Crown Court of solicitor Stephen Jones who in breach of his fiduciary duty fraudulently misappropriated funds of $16,000,000 intended for the purchase of a Scottish castle. See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11493253/Judge-slams-Scotland-Yard-failing-probe-legal-eagle-defrauded-billionaire-millions.html ; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lawyer-jailed-for-12-years-over-missing-millions-in-castle-deal-x88h7qt0q?shareToken=3aa9074b6a177a214ba6598771c7edef
Other international areas of practice include Sanctions and Interpol Red Notices. The latter arising from the increasing number of politically or financially motivated cases brought by governments. In April 2022 he presented a review of UK sanctions laws to the All Party Parliamentary Corporate Governance Group in the Houses of Parliament.
Steven is experienced in advising clients at the crisis stage of an international situation by setting out their options and guiding their responses, whilst also making the preparations necessary for future litigation. His cases demonstrate the depth of experience and the quality of the work for which he has been hired. 9BR’s other international lawyers have been involved in most of these cases with him and they have developed an impressive team to meet the unique challenges these cases present in whatever part of the world they may arise. Some international cases upon which he has been asked to advise are necessarily confidential.
Steven is registered to accept instructions under Direct Public Access and is licensed to litigate in the courts of England and Wales.
International Criminal Law
Steven Kay KC leads a team working with the Libyan Asset Recovery Management Office in Tripoli for the phased repatriation for the benefit of the Libyan people of assets that have been stolen, corruptly obtained or frozen under UN sanctions. It is estimated that value of the internationally held frozen assets is over $50bn and that of the stolen assets over $150bn.
Provision of international legal services to cover advice upon international legal issues, conflict, the Revitalised Peace Agreement and sanctions. A key report Pushing the Reset Button for South Sudan was drafted on the conflicts of 2013 and 2016 that challenged the narratives of the AU and EU - http://southsudanreports.com/ Important speech in 2023 at the Transitional Justice Conference in Juba - https://southsudanreports.com/files/SK-KC-May.pdf . In September 2023 a second report Setting The Record Straight was released http://southsudanreports.com/
UK OFSI licence to represent designated persons to challenge listing for sanctions by UK. Further sanctions challenges submitted to EU, OFAC and UN.
Advice upon conducting business in a war zone.
Report on business activities and companies of X accused of bribery and corruption by Wall Street Journal. Findings that the article by the WSJ was based upon unreliable and inaccurate hearsay provided by a UK intelligence company that had not conducted any corroborative research for its report.
Claim against former Prime Minister of Egypt Hazem El Beblawi alleging responsibility for torture arising from the arrest in Rabaa Square in 2013 of the Plaintiff. Mr El Beblawi was the IMF Ambassador for 11 Middle Eastern countries and had diplomatic immunity rights granted by the US. The claim was challenged by US lawyers Bartko, Zankel, Bunzel & Miller appointed by Steven Kay and with Josh Kern of 9BR, acted as international consultants. The DCC dismissed the claim, recognising the immunity from suit of Mr El Bablawi. Report here
Advice upon the impact of UK Bribery Act, FCPA and US State law for a global company with UK and US subsidiaries to ensure compliance as a result of sponsorship of political causes.
Consultant to Lundin Energy upon investigations in Sweden for a criminal prosecution under universal jurisdiction laws alleging war crimes committed in Sudan 1997-2003 by the company, its Chairman and CEO. Issued a report commissioned by the Board of Directors challenging the basis for the investigations - See A Report on the Lundin Case
International Criminal Court proceedings commenced in December 2010 against President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, and son of the first President of the nation, Jomo Kenyatta, alleging a leading role in the post-election violence of 2007 - 2008 for which he was charged with crimes against humanity. At the confirmation of charges hearing the prosecution case theory was challenged comprehensively. This included calling Uhuru Kenyatta to give evidence. The defence evidence and submissions to the court clearly established the strong foundations of the defence case. In January 2015 the charges were finally withdrawn by the prosecution, having admitted there was an insufficiency of evidence upon which to proceed to trial. The result achieved by the 9BR team in this case has changed the course of African politics. Read the defence report of the trial at the ICC.
Acquittal of General Cermak at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in trial of three Croatian Generals arising from Operation Storm in August 1995 that resulted in the liberation of territory from the RSK. Gillian Higgins of 9BRi was co-counsel in this case, described as the most important trial in the history of Croatia. The prosecution evidence was largely based upon UN witnesses.
Steven was instructed by Jamaat E Islami to lead a 9BRi team to represent their members prosecuted at the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal for war crimes alleged to have taken place in 1971in the conflict to create the state of Bangladesh. Steven, in Dakhar in October 2010 at a conference attended by leading politicians and lawyers publicly exposed the flaws of the ICTA 1973 and started the Defence campaign. The 9BRi team worked with local lawyers to challenge the prosecution’s evidence.
U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia appointed Steven in September 2001 as amicus curiae with responsibility for defence issues in the trial of the ex-President of Serbia. In September 2004, he was appointed the Court Assigned Defence Counsel for Slobodan Milosevic. Gillian Higgins of 9BRi was co-counsel in this historic case. The trial was upon 3 joined indictments concerning the wars of the 1990s waged in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia by the Serbian forces and was the largest international criminal trial in its scope. This trial involved political, historical and factual issues of a highly complex nature and legal argument that has been referred to ever since.
U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This was the first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide. The defence team included Gillian Higgins of 9BRi. They were the first U.N. Defence counsel to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations. The investigations produced important and critical evidence for the case overlooked by prosecution investigators in the field.
U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This was the first United Nations international war crimes trial and the first since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. This landmark trial established the foundation for modern international criminal law. Tadic was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case set the foundations for the future conduct of international trials.
Advised suspects held in US Army captivity on ways and means to exercise their human rights.
Advisory opinion for Channel Isles company upon the effect of US sanctions on a contract involving Iranian airport security.
With John Traversi of 9 BRi training Defence and Prosecution counsel in Kazakhstan how to deal with the introduction of jury trials into the criminal justice system in January 2007.
Advisor to the government of Sudan re: referral by UN Security Council of Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court and the arrest warrant issued for President Bashir.
Advisor to the Syrian Government and individuals concerning the UN investigation into the assassination of Lebanese ex-Premier, Rafik Hariri and 14 related terrorist explosions that is the subject of the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The cases against the Syrians investigated by the IIIC were discontinued.
Steven Kay QC and Eeva Heikkila pro bono case for family victims of the siege at the school in Beslan held hostage by Chechen terrorists in September 2004 and in 2013. Drafted petition to the European Court of Human Rights that was referred to the Russian Government for observations. The case before the Court is that the deaths of the 334 hostages were as a result of the excessive and indiscriminate use of lethal force by the Russian security forces.
Drafted with David Hammond the 100 Series Rules for the Use of Force by a Flag State for submission to the IMO. Advising upon the liabilities of security companies, insurers, charterers and individuals in the use of force to protect a vessel and all aboard from piracy or armed robbery at sea. The 100 Series RUF has now received international recognition.
Drafting a report for the ABA ROLI on the effectiveness of the Defence in the criminal justice system of the Kingdom of Bahrain as part of the programme aimed at implementing internal justice reforms. Devising an 8-stage training programme manual to improve the quality of the Defence counsel that was followed by delivery of the training programme to lawyers and trainers in 2013.
Providing submissions to the OISL of the UNHCHR on behalf of 3 Sri Lankan NGO’s upon the 30 years conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) that resulted in the final defeat of the LTTE in 2009. The 9BR reports challenged the narrative issued by the NGOs and UNHCHR. To read one of the reports - click here
Commissioned by the State Lawsuit (Litigation) Authority of Egypt to provide a series of reports upon the Muslim Brotherhood, the first of which “The History of the Muslim Brotherhood” was released on 2 April 2015. The further reports are: The Egyptian Experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in power 2012-2013; The Egyptian Revolution Against the Muslim Brotherhood 2013; and The Current Situation in Egypt. Ongoing international legal advice to the government of Egypt.
Pro-bono project to challenge on behalf of the Virunga National Park in DRC a UK FTSE 200 company, prospecting for oil and gas in the famous UNESCO heritage site and home to the last species of mountain gorillas. This matter involved international environment law, the national laws of DRC and national laws of the company. Steven’s team at 9BR were determined to protect the local people and wildlife under threat from the commercial activities of the company.
In Washington DC took part with Kirsty Sutherland of 9BR, Federica D’Alessandra and Greg Kehoe in the Inquiry into the Kwanliso (political prisons) arranged by the IBA North American Office and heard by International Judges.
Report available here
International Fraud and Corruption
A successful direct access private prosecution at Southwark Crown Court of solicitor Stephen Jones who fraudulently misappropriated funds of $16,000,000 intended for the purchase of a Scottish castle. See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11493253/Judge-slams-Scotland-Yard-failing-probe-legal-eagle-defrauded-billionaire-millions.html ; https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lawyer-jailed-for-12-years-over-missing-millions-in-castle-deal-x88h7qt0q?shareToken=3aa9074b6a177a214ba6598771c7edef
Representing founders of TBC bank Georgia (listed on UK Stock Exchange) in their defence to allegations of money laundering under the Criminal Code of Georgia through a series of transactions in 2007-2008.
Overseeing for client various cases in Liechtenstein, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Gibraltar concerning embezzlement by trustees from a Foundation, release of assets from trustees.
UK Commercial Court, two ex-Metropolitan police officers sued by owners of FBME bank for breach of confidentiality agreement in providing information to Central Bank of Cyprus and US FINCEN of serious criminal conduct and regulatory breaches. Story here.
Al Jibouri Multi-jurisdictional case of corruption in the global oil industry linked to UNAOIL investigation. See here for full story
A Ponzi scheme fraud by a Swiss registered company using the Hong Kong branch of the Singapore based bank DBS.
Philippa Seilern asset tracing case for the deceased’s family members against a Liechtenstein Foundation. See here for full story.
A portfolio of Hilton hotels bought by Vincent Tchenguiz, leased back to Hilton and eventually put into administration upon default of a loan scheme hedged by Bayerische Landesbank in circumstances where the value of assets were believed to be undersold. Story here
Advised in claims in the BVI and London against Grant Thornton (UK) and Kaupthing bank (Iceland).
Expert witness on BVI Proceeds of Criminal Conduct law in the Ablyazov litigation, an international commercial fraud involving the BVI, Russia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and the UK.
Embezzlement and fraud involving a Liechtenstein trust of high value with litigation in Cayman Islands, US, Israel, Switzerland, UK, Liechtenstein. See Mark Hollingsworth, Independent, Thursday 8 March 2018 Liechtenstein: The mysterious tax heaven that's losing the trust of the super-rich.
- Secretary of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales 1993-1996
- Prime Minister’s Special Committee on Victims in the Criminal Justice System 1995
- Founder Member of the European Criminal Bar Association 1997
- Founder member of the International Criminal Law Bureau 2008
- Chair IBA War Crimes Committee 2012-2016
- Co-Vice Chair IBA Judges Forum 2023-
- The Role of the Defence – Commentary on The Rome Statute of the
- International Criminal Court ed. Casese, Gaeta, Jones OUP 2002
- International Criminal Justice – Westlaw online
- Cases that Changed our Lives – The First Nuremburg Trial And Its Enduring Legacy “Even Rulers Are Under God And The Law
Professional commentary and attribution
"A father figure for international law, who has gravitas and client rapport that is second to none." Chambers UK, 2024)
"A stalwart of international criminal law." Chambers UK, 2024)
"A pillar of the ICL British Bar."
"He has blazed a trail in this area for years now and is at the top of the field." (Chambers UK, 2023)
"He provides great oversight of a case and wades in on tricky matters of the law." (Chambers UK, 2021)
"Outstanding team leader for difficult international cases, with excellent strategic understanding as well as a persuasive advocate." (Legal 500, 2021)
“He has a stellar international criminal law practice and he is great in court.” (Legal 500, 2020)
"He's extremely eloquent and displays a great level of wit and expertise in international criminal law." "He is a very senior practitioner who understands the complexities of acting in very sensitive and difficult cases extremely well." (Chambers UK, 2020)
"A very impressive operator." (Legal 500, 2020)
"He has the reassuring ability to distil the most complex factual cases and express clear thought." (Legal 500, 2018)
"Has significant experience before the International Criminal Court in matters involving crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is also sought after to counsel governments, corporations and membership organisations on best practice and compliance matters." (Chambers UK, 2016)
“Leading silk with a vast depth of experience of handling ICC proceedings, particularly those involving significant and high-profile political figures."
PROFILE: Steven Kay KC
Fraud, Bribery & Corruption
Human rights law
Fraud, Bribery & Corruption
Human rights law
Financial and Corporate law
020 7489 2727
Leeds University 1973-76
Inns of Court School of Law 1976-77
Called to the Bar of the Inner Temple 1977
Recorder of the Crown Court 1997
Master of the Bench of Inner Temple 2008
Co-Chair IBA War Crimes Committee 2012-16
Special Advisor IBA War Crimes Committee 2017
Co-Chair ABA International Criminal Justice Standards Working Group 2017
IBA Co-Vice Chair Judges Forum 2023