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 Courts 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.

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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

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 recently appeared as counsel alongside Steven Kay QC 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.

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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.
The Prosecutor v Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 2012-2015, International Criminal Court
Kirsty was a member of the team defending the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, in the proceedings against him at the International Criminal Court. Mr Kenyatta faced charges of crimes against humanity in connection with Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence. Following consistent admissions as to the failure of its case, the Prosecution withdrew the charges against Mr Kenyatta in December 2014. The proceedings were terminated on 13 March 2015. Kirsty regularly drafted arguments pertaining to complex and novel points of law and intricate evidentiary issues, especially concerning the Prosecution’s handling of its investigation. In 2012, she spent several months working closely with the Defence’s investigation team in Kenya, during which she conducted her own interviews with both dangerous and extremely vulnerable witnesses. The conditions were unpredictable and often hostile, requiring sensitivity, alertness and pragmatism.
Other international experience
Before commencing her pupillage at 9 Bedford Row, Kirsty worked as an intern with the defence at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and with the Defence for Assad Sabra at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Prior to that, she undertook a wide range of work focusing on Burma, including researching alleged violations of international criminal and humanitarian law and drafting submissions to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. While studying, Kirsty worked for Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and retains strong links with both these organisations.

Other activities and interests

  • Lecturer on international law


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

PROFILE: Kirsty Sutherland

Year called



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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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020 7489 2727


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


Young Bar Committee, 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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