Steven Kay QC

Head of Chambers

INTRODUCTION

Steven is Head of Chambers at 9 Bedford Row. He has appeared as leading counsel in many significant English criminal trials – and also has a global reputation, having represented heads of state and leading figures at UN tribunals and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Steven also takes on UK and international fraud cases, working with multi-disciplinary teams.

BACKGROUND AND EXPERTISE

With his 40 years’ experience, Steven advises clients as they navigate complex and demanding cases, in the UK or internationally – setting out options, guiding responses, and preparing for litigation.

Read more about background and expertise

His strengths are his careful judgement; his effective systems for collecting and managing evidence; and his clear and persuasive presentation of a case in court or by written submissions.

As an international lawyer, Steven has been involved in cases that have helped establish modern international criminal law. In the case of President Kenyatta at the ICC, for example, Steven produced a result that changed the shape of African politics.

Steven has now advised governments and organisations on a range of global issues, many with a political aspect that have needed his presentational skills on the client’s behalf.

Steven is the co-founder of Oculus Financial Intelligence, a company that investigates cases of financial fraud – and for which 9 Bedford Row provides legal services. He leads multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional teams, deploying effective strategies to deal with complex situations.

International cases

Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons, 2016

International Bar Association, North America Office.

Inquiry into the kwanliso (political prisons) of North Korea, arranged by the IBA North American Office and heard by international judges.

See details of the brief submitted to the inquiry.

The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta, 2010–15

ICC
Proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, charged with crimes against humanity regarding allegations of a leading role in post-election violence of 2007–08.

See the International Law Bureau report on the work of the 9 Bedford Row defence team; and the video of Steven.

Read more International cases

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, 2007 – 2011

UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
General Cermak was one of three Croatian generals prosecuted in this case arising from conduct of military forces in 1995 – described as the most important case in the history of Croatia.

Co-counsel: Gillian Higgins.

See video of Steven.

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, 2010

Steven was instructed by the political organisation Jamaat E Islami to represent members prosecuted for alleged war crimes in the conflict to create the state of Bangladesh in 1971. Instructed with John Cammegh.

The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, 2001 – 2006

ICTY
Trial of the ex-President of Serbia, and first ever international trial of a head of state. Tribunal appointed Steven in 2001 as amicus curiae, with responsibility for defence issues; in 2004, he was appointed Court Assigned Defence Counsel, with Gillian Higgins of 9 Bedford Row.

View video footage.

The Prosecutor v Ivan Cermak, 2007 – 2011

UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
General Cermak was one of three Croatian generals prosecuted in this case arising from conduct of military forces in 1995 – described as the most important case in the history of Croatia. Co-counsel: Gillian Higgins.

See video of Steven.

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal, 2010

Steven was instructed by the political organisation Jamaat E Islami to represent members prosecuted for alleged war crimes in the conflict to create the state of Bangladesh in 1971.

Instructed with John Cammegh.

The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic, 2001 – 2006

ICTY

Trial of the ex-President of Serbia, and first ever international trial of a head of state. Tribunal appointed Steven in 2001 as amicus curiae, with responsibility for defence issues; in 2004, he was appointed Court Assigned Defence Counsel, with Gillian Higgins of 9 Bedford Row.

View video footage.

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema, 1998 – 2001

UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

First trial of a civilian, alleging command responsibility for genocide. Defence team included Gillian Higgins of 9 Bedford Row; they were the first UN defence counsel to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations in the field. These investigations produced important and critical evidence that had been overlooked by prosecution investigators.

The Prosecutor v Dusko Tadic, 1996 – 1997

ICTY.

First international war crimes trial since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of the 1940s – establishing the foundation for modern international criminal law.

MPS v Dariye

Civil and criminal proceedings against the Governor of Jos State, Nigeria, for corruption and money laundering. Proceedings took place in both Nigeria and England.

Application concerning international arrest warrant

International Court of Justice.

Application of the Republic of Liberia, concerning an international arrest warrant for President Charles Taylor, issued on 7 March 2003 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

International advice

Guantanamo Bay

Steven advised suspects held in US Army captivity on ways and means to exercise their human rights.

Kazakhstan, 2006

With John Traversi of 9 Bedford Row, Steven trained defence and prosecution counsel in Kazakhstan on how to deal with the introduction of jury trials into the criminal justice system in January 2007.

Read more International advice

Sudan, 2008 – 2009

Steven advised the government of Sudan regarding the UN Security Council’s referral of the Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court, and the arrest warrant issued for President Bashir.

Syria, 2005 – 2007

Steven advised the Syrian government and individuals concerning the investigation into the assassination of Lebanese ex-Premier, Rafik Hariri, and 14 related terrorist explosions that are the subject of the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Beslan victims’ ECHR complaint against Russia, 2011

Working pro bono, Steven and Eeva Heikkila undertook the case of the siege at the school in Beslan by Chechen terrorists in September 2004. In 2013, the ECHR gave notice that the case had been referred to the Russian government for observations.

Piracy at sea, 2012

With David Hammond formerly of 9 Bedford Row, Steven drafted the 100 Series Rules for the Use of Force (RUF) in cases of piracy or armed robbery at sea, for submission to the International Maritime Organization on behalf of the Marshall Islands. The 100 Series RUF has now received international recognition and international standard.

Bahrain, 2012 – 2013

Steven drafted a report for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) on the effectiveness of the defence in the criminal justice system of Bahrain, as part of a programme aimed at implementing justice reforms. He also devised a training programme manual to improve the quality of defence counsel.

Sri Lanka, 2014

On behalf of three Sri Lankan NGOs, Steven provided submissions to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) on the 30-year conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).

Democratic Republic of Congo, 2012

Pro bono project on behalf of Virunga National Park, to challenge a UK FTSE-200 company prospecting for oil and gas in the famous UNESCO Heritage Site, home to the last species of mountain gorillas.

Egypt, 2014

Leader of team that wrote significant reports for the Egyptian State Litigation Authority on the relationship of the state with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Reports were distributed internationally: see www.Egyptevidence.com

UK cases

Rawlinson & Hunter, Vincent Tchenguiz and others v Grant Thornton and others, 2015

Complex commercial fraud claim for damages amounting to £2.2bn.

Handcart v MCG, 2017

Expert witness on the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Criminal Code 1997 and the BVI Proceeds of Criminal Conduct Act 1997, in the international arbitration of a commercial fraud case arising from the BTA Bank (Kazakhstan) v Ablyazov litigation – that involved complex commercial transactions in the BVI, Russia, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and the UK.

Read more UK cases

Perry v LOPAG, Dieter Neupert, 2017

Embezzlement and fraud case involving a Liechtenstein trust for a high-value family fund –with litigation in Cayman Islands, US, Israel, Switzerland, UK and Liechtenstein.

R v Winzar

An allegation of murder by insulin injection.

R v Lomas

A European agricultural regulations fraud case referred to the EEC Court of Justice, Luxembourg.

R v Hannon

An international time share fraud case tried at the Old Bailey, involving the companies of John Palmer.

R v Clemente

An international money laundering case involving the US, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and Austria. It was the largest case of its type tried in the UK.

R v Dass

A revenue fraud case involving corruption of a customs officer.

R v Simmonds

The manufacture of pharmaceuticals in Hong Kong listed as controlled drugs in the UK, and their illegal import and export through the UK to the Middle East and Africa.

R v Amani

A murder within a prison.

R v Harrington

Money laundering through a police sting operation involving a fake bureau de change.

R v Munshi

Arson of a dwelling by a group of young people in which three children died.

R v Shakespeare

A case involving multiple sexual attacks by the use of a date rape drug.

OTHER ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTS

  • Lecturer on international law
  • Conference speaker and mediator
  • Media commentator

Contributor

  • Commentary on The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, OUP 2002
  • International Criminal Justice, Westlaw UK Insight
  • Cases That Changed Our Lives: The Nuremburg Trials And Their Enduring Legacy That Even Rulers Are Under God And The Law, Lexis Nexis

Professional commentary and attribution

"Pre-eminent silk who is highly regarded by market sources for being "very professional and thorough." He boasts a vast depth of experience of handling ICC proceedings, particularly those involving significant and high-profile political figures. Kay regularly defends those accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity."
"Strategically, there is no one better."
"He has a very deep knowledge and understanding of criminal law and private prosecution."
"Acted in a case concerning a claim for £2.2 billion damages against an Icelandic bank and its liquidators. The matter concerned charges of fraud and conspiracy to injure through the making of false allegations against clients to the SFO."

Chambers UK, 2018

"He is very able and hardworking, and has the ability to express his views in a calm and focused way."

Legal 500, 2017

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PROFILE: Steven Kay QC

"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

Year called

1977

Silk

1997

Specialisms

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Crime

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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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International

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International

Direct access

Yes

Contact

020 7489 2727

Education

Leeds University 1973-76

Inns of Court School of Law 1976-77

Memberships

IBA; CBA; IDCA ICC

Appointments

Recorder 1997

Chair, ABA Task Force International Criminal Justice Standards 2016 – Co-chair, IBA War Crimes Committee (WCC), 2012–16

Advisor, IBA WCC, 2017 – Secretary, CBA 1993–96

Member, Prime Minister’s Special Committee on Victims 1995–96

Recognition

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