Joe Holmes


Joe is an international lawyer who operates in diverse national and international jurisdictions, including fragile and conflict-affected regions.

He is dual-qualified before the Bars of England and Wales and New York. He speaks Spanish and some French.

Background and expertise

Joe offers expertise in international criminal law, public international law, international humanitarian law, strategic litigation, counter-terrorism and human rights law. He is a recognised subject matter expert in rule of law capacity-building, deployable to conflict-affected countries.

His clients have included the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Egyptian government, the African Centre for Rights and Governance, the former chief of Serbian state security, the former commanding officer of the Bosnian Serb Army and the former préfet of Butare, Rwanda.

Joe has represented high-profile individuals in international criminal law for more than 10 years – appearing before courts and tribunals for Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and  Sierra Leone, along with the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), arguing long and complex cases at trial and appellate levels.

He recently prepared the appeal in Nyiramasuhuku et al, believed to be the longest criminal case in history. He is also engaged by teams defending the interests of General Ratko Mladic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Jovica Stanisic at the MICT.

Joe is currently advising the FCO on reform to the Somaliland criminal justice system. In that role he is responsible for cabinet-level engagement and designing new court management systems, engaging with local stakeholders at cabinet level.

International Cases

Prosecutor v Jovica Stanisic

MICT-15-96 Advising the former head of Serbian state security, alleged to be President Milosevic’s right-hand man, in his retrial before the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.

Prosecutor v Ratko Mladic

ICTY; IT-09-92-T Acting for the former colonel general and commanding officer of the Army of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia–Herzegovina.

Read more International Cases

Other Activities and Interests

  • Panellist on ‘Peace v Justice, the Jus Post Bellum Dilemma’ at the International Bar Association War Crimes Committee Annual Conference, 2017
  • Trainer for the Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (ADC-ICT)
  • Designs and delivers bespoke training programmes for judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers in Hargeisa, Somaliland


  • Co-author of Call to Arms, International Bar Association North American Forum Regional Newsletter, 2013
  • International Criminal Justice?, Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 2012
  • The Third International Defense Conference - International Criminal Justice: Justice for Whom?, Criminal Bar Quarterly, 2012
  • Assisted Suicide – the Case for Reform, Criminal Law and Justice Weekly, 2012
  • Co-author of Weighing up the Evidence, Counsel, 2010

Professional Commentary and Attribution

"He cuts to the heart of complex cases" (Legal 500, 2020)
'His ability to spot legal problems and work around or through them is second to none' (Legal 500, 2018)
"He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of international criminal law and his advocacy is very persuasive." (Legal 500, 2017)
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PROFILE: Joe Holmes

"Absolutely wonderful. He has a fantastic legal mind and an encyclopaedic knowledge of international criminal law and procedure. His written advocacy is second to none."

Chambers UK, 2020

Year called




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Inquests / public inquiries


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Human rights law

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International Terrorism


020 7489 2727


BVC, College of Law

LPC, Nottingham Law School

BA Law with European Law, University of Nottingham

Diploma en Derecho Espanol, Universitat de Valencia


IBA, CBA, New York State Bar Association, JUSTICE


State of New York, Attorney – passed bar exams in 2007. Licensed to practise in New York State and federal jurisdictions in the US.

Senior Justice Reform Advisor, Axiom International

Legal Consultant, Global Rights Compliance (GRC)


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