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 also takes on UK and international fraud cases, working with multi-disciplinary teams and is instructed in extradition cases.

She is a trained investigative interviewer able to handle sensitive witnesses and complex situations. Gillian also works as an accredited civil/commercial and workplace mediator. She also 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 and in recent years has held courses on mindfulness for barristers, solicitors and barristers’ clerks.

Background and Expertise

As an international lawyer with 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 reports about the Muslim Brotherhood for 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. She also lectures extensively and has provided consultancy services to organisations such as 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, who are being sued by the owners of FBME bank. The litigation concerns an alleged breach of a confidentiality agreement in providing 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 referencing: money laundering, Magnitsky money, terrorist accounts, fraud, sarin gas and extreme pornography.

Top Zinc Ltd v Hilton Hotels, Alix Partners et al, 2019

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. News Story here.

International cases

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, 2018

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, 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 Defence challenged the Prosecution case theory comprehensively and called Uhuru Kenyatta to give evidence in his own defence. The Defence evidence and submissions to the court clearly established the strong foundations of the defence case. Although the Pre-Trial Judges confirmed the charges, it was subsequently established that the Defence contentions at the hearing had been correct. Furthermore, an alternative case the Prosecution had tried to create against Uhuru Kenyatta after confirmation of charges was also successfully challenged. 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. 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.

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, 2007–11

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Represented 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, 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. Gillian was appointed 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 the extradition of a man to serve terms of imprisonment following his convictions for robbery and theft.

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

KHRP, 1998

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

OTHER ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTS

  • Conference speaker
  • Volunteer youth worker
  • Meditation teacher

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

"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

'She has a track record in heavyweight cases before international tribunals'

Legal 500, 2018

Year called

1997

Specialisms

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International

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International

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Financial and Corporate law

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Mediation

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 of Counsel at the International Criminal Court CBA Founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau Founder of ARC

Appointments

Workplace mediator, 2017

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

Accredited civil and commercial mediator, 2016

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

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

Recognition

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