Gillian Higgins

Head of the International Practice

Introduction

Gillian is Head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row. As an international barrister, she has represented leading political figures before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and UN international tribunals. Gillian's practice areas include UK and International fraud, international criminal law, extradition and Interpol Red Notice removal work. In July 2019, Gillian and Steven Kay QC established the Interpol Red Notice Desk at 9 Bedford Row. Gillian also undertakes witness familiarisation work as an accredited Bond Solon trainer.

She is a trained investigative interviewer able to handle sensitive witnesses and complex situations. Gillian also works as an accredited civil and commercial mediator and has a particular interest in the use of mediation to resolve international conflict situations. Gillian teaches civil and commercial  mediation as a member of the faculty of the London School of Mediation. She is also actively involved in promoting wellbeing at the Bar in her role as a mindfulness meditation teacher. In recent years, she has designed and delivered courses on mindfulness for members of the legal profession.

Background and Expertise

As an international lawyer with over 20 years' experience, Gillian has been involved in some of the leading cases in international criminal law. She is adept at providing advice, developing case strategy, and representing clients in the most complex cases. In recent years, Gillian has also been instructed and developed an expertise in UK and international fraud cases.

Her recent international advisory work includes providing submissions to the UN investigation into the conflict in Sri Lanka and a series of reports to the Egypt State Litigation Authority. She has led sensitive investigations into alleged financial misconduct, and advised government-level clients on the potential impact of international criminal proceedings.

In 2011 she founded ARC, which monitors the work of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Tanzania. In 2016, she served as a member of the steering committee for Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty programme. Gillian lectures extensively and has provided consultancy services to organisations including the Kurdish Human Rights Project, the State Court of BiH in Sarajevo, the Mike Campbell Foundation in South Africa, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

International Fraud and Corruption

FBME, Saab and Saab v Dangate, Brown and Leighton, 2019

Litigation in the Commercial Court concerning two ex-Metropolitan police officers, sued by the owners of FBME bank. The litigation concerns an alleged breach of a confidentiality agreement in relation to the provision of information to Central Bank of Cyprus and US FINCEN of serious criminal conduct and regulatory breaches revealed within the accounts held by the Cyprus branch of the bank referencing: money laundering, Magnitsky money, terrorist accounts, fraud, sarin gas and extreme pornography. News story here.

Top Zinc Ltd v Hilton Hotels, Alix Partners et al, 2018

Instruction concerning legal action by Vincent Tchenguiz in relation to a portfolio of Hilton hotels bought by Mr 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.

International cases

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, 2018 to date

United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Instructed as Review Counsel with Steven Kay QC with an additional mandate to represent Mr. Alfred Musema in relation to his application for early release.

The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta, 2010–15

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. The case alleged that President Kenyatta had 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 Defence challenged the prosecution's case theory comprehensively and called Uhuru Kenyatta to give evidence in his own defence. Although the Pre-Trial Judges confirmed the charges, it was subsequently established that the defence contentions at the confirmation hearing had been correct. 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. To read a report on the case go to ICLB here

Gillian Higgins Presents Evidence at the Confirmation Hearing in the Trial of Uhuru Kenyatta (Part 1)

Gillian Higgins Presents Evidence at the Confirmation Hearing in the Trial of Uhuru Kenyatta (Part 2)

Gillian Higgins Presents Evidence at the Confirmation Hearing in the Trial of Uhuru Kenyatta (Part 3)

Sri Lanka, 2014–15

Submissions to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), on behalf of three Sri Lankan NGOs, relating to the 30-year conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). 9 Bedford Row submitted detailed reports on aspects of the conflict, supported by evidence from open sources.

Egypt 2015 - date

Part of the 9BR team from the international practice group at 9 Bedford Row 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.

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, 2007–11

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Instructed to represent Ivan Cermak, who was acquitted of all charges in 2011. This case has been described as the most important trial in the history of Croatia and concerned the prosecution of Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac in respect of the military action that resulted in the liberation of the Croatian territories from the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).

See also

Gillian Higgins argues before the ICTY in The Hague regarding the issue of admissibility of evidence in Cermak et al.

Gillian Higgins examines the Prosecution’s final brief in the closing argument for Ivan Cermak at the ICTY

The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, 2001–05

Trial of Slobodan Milosevic on 66 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Appointed as court-assigned defence counsel with Steven Kay QC from 2004, having previously been appointed amica curiae (in 2003) and instructed as a legal consultant to the amici curiae (2001).

Osmanoglu v Turkey, 2008

European Court of Human Rights Gillian was instructed as counsel by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP), in case concerning alleged multiple breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicant was a Turkish national of Kurdish origin who alleged that his son was taken into police custody and subsequently disappeared.

The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana, 2000–02

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Gillian was engaged as a member of the defence team in a trial concerning the responsibility of the media for genocide in Rwanda in 1994 – which came to be known as the “media trial”. Nahimana, who had acted as Director of the Rwandan Office of Information in 1990–92, was one of three people charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity.

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, 1999-2000

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda The first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide. Gillian was engaged as a member of this defence team, the first to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations.

Extradition

Bulgaria v Grigorov, 2019

Instructed to represent Bulgaria in a case involving a challenge to extradition in a conviction warrant case concerning offences of robbery and theft.

Mediation

Gillian Higgins is an accredited civil and commercial mediator. She is a member of the faculty of the London School of Mediation and teaches civil and commercial mediation every month.


Gillian is skilled at navigating complicated factual and legal situations and is innovative in helping those involved to find creative solutions to difficult situations.


She is adept at employing her communication skills to get to the heart of the matter in a calm and professional manner, and is able to put those participating quickly at ease.


Gillian is extremely adaptable in her approach and is known for her strong work ethic. For further information, see Mediation of Conflict


'Having seen Gillian mediate, I have no hesitation in recommending Gillian for any type of mediation. Her calm professional approach combined with her background and exemplary communication skills means she is perfectly placed to mediate the most complex of disputes'.

Tessa Herman
Director of LSM


“Gillian is an excellent active listener who is able to earn trust and develop a rapport with people from different backgrounds and standpoints.  Her background as a leading international criminal barrister also means that she is able to quickly understand the issues underpinning complex disputes.  Friendly, even handed and approachable, I would have no hesitation recommending Gillian or indeed referring a matter to her where I am the instructed Dispute Resolution solicitor”

Mike Davidson

Monro Wright & Wasbrough LLP, Solicitors


“Gillian combines her sharp, analytical legal mind with a caring and practical approach to dispute resolution. She has a very firm understanding of the mediation process, mediator skills and techniques and is able to use these to excellent effect in encouraging parties to generate creative and lasting solutions. She has excellent communication skills and real empathy and sensitivity in emotional situations.”

Judith Kelbie
Director 
London School of Mediation

Associated work

Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia, 2007

Legal consultant for the defence support section

KHRP and European Parliament, 2007

Member of a fact-finding mission investigating the increase of suicides among Kurdish women in Turkey

Office of Defence Counsel (OKO) in Sarajevo, 2006

Legal consultant

Kurdish Human Rights Project, 1998

Legal advisor. Trial observation work in relation to the HADEP trial in Ankara, Turkey

OTHER ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTS

  • Conference speaker
  • Meditation teacher and author of Mindfulness at Work and Home

PUBLICATIONS

  • Co-author of The Intoxication Defence and Theories of Criminal Liability, The Addiction Research Foundation (ADR) 1999
  • Life Beyond the Crown Court Grind, The Times 11 October 2005
  • The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial, special edition, Criminal Law Forum 2006
  • Fair and Expeditious Pre-Trial Proceedings: The Future of International Criminal Trials, Journal of International Criminal Justice 2007
  • Entries on The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic and The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana in the Oxford Companion to International Criminal Law, Oxford University Press (OUP) 2009
  • The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial and the development of Rule 73bis before the ICTY, Northwestern University Law Review 2009
  • The Development of the Right to Self-Representation before the International Criminal Tribunals, chapter in Judicial Creativity at the International Criminal Tribunals, OUP 2011
  • Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination, chapter in Transferring War Crimes Cases From the ICTY, UNICRI 2011
  • Book review of Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by Daniel H Joyner, International Criminal Law Blog 2012
  • Blog editor and publisher for the International Criminal Law Bureau, to date
  • Blog editor and publisher for ARC, to date

Professional commentary and attribution

“She is hard-working, collegiate and very effective” Chambers UK, 2020
"A well-respected, seasoned lawyer in this field" who is "a very shrewd and effective advocate." Chambers UK, 2019
'She has a track record in heavyweight cases before international tribunals' Legal 500, 2018
"An experienced junior who is held to be a "very committed advocate," she is particularly adept at defending those charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. She maintains a particularly strong affiliation with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights."
"She has a reputation as a very canny operator. Strategically, she is second to none in terms of her approach to cases."
"Acting as Counsel for Alfred Musema in review proceedings at the United Nations Mechanism For International Criminal Tribunals." Chambers UK, 2018
"Noted by sources for her strong work ethic and knowledge of international criminal law ... she maintains a particularly strong affiliation with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights ...utterly fantastic." (Chambers UK, 2017)
"A veteran of International Criminal Court prosecutions." (Legal 500, 2017)

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PROFILE: Gillian Higgins

“Well known for her expertise in complex international criminal cases”

Legal 500, 2020

Year called

1997

Specialisms

Crime

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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

Disciplinary

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Mediation

International

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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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Mediation

Extradition

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Extradition

Direct access

Yes

Contact

020 7489 2727

Education

LLB, Exeter University, 2001–04

LLM, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, 2004–05

Inns of Court School of Law, 2006–07

Memberships

Grays’ Inn

List Counsel at the International Criminal Court

Criminal Bar Association

Founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau

Founder of ARC

List Counsel at the United Nation's International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

Appointments

CPS Extradition List

Accredited civil and commercial mediator

Member of the steering committee for Oxfam’s Lawyers Against Poverty programme, 2015–16

Member of the Faculty of the London School of Mediation, 2016–date

Investigative Interviewer – Accredited Course Part 1, Intersol Global, 2016

Recognition

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