Provided by Gillian Higgins
Gillian is a senior international criminal lawyer and Head of the International Practice Group at 9BR Chambers with extensive experience at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN international tribunals.
International Trials: Gillian has been instructed in some of the leading cases in international criminal law including the first trial of a former Head of State (former President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic) and the first case at the ICC of an incumbent Head of State (President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya). Before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, she represented Ivan Cermak in a case that has been described as the most important trial in the history of Croatia. Before the Rwanda Tribunal (ICTR), she acted for the defence in the trials of Alfred Musema (the first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide) and Ferdinand Nahimana (a trial concerning the responsibility of the media for genocide in Rwanda in 1994).
More recently, Gillian was instructed as a consultant to the Defence in criminal proceedings brought against the Swedish Oil Company Lundin Oil for war crimes in Sudan between 1999 and 2003 brought under laws of universal jurisdiction in Sweden.
International Advisory and Reports: Gillian’s advisory practice involves assisting states to investigate allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, capacity building, advising on transitional justice, sanctions, improving relations between governmental institutions and assisting states to fulfil their human rights obligations. Her recent work includes the following reports:
• South Sudan: (i) An investigation and report on the causes of the 2013 and 2016 conflicts in South Sudan, entitled Pushing the Reset Button and (ii) Setting the Record Straight – a report focusing on the challenges faced by South Sudan, many of which have their roots in international politics.
• Sudan: Preparation of a report on the Lundin case concerning universal jurisdiction proceedings in Sweden alleging war crimes committed in Sudan from 1999-2003 against Lundin Oil company, its chairman and its CEO. This report was commissioned by the Board of Directors for Lundin Energy.
• Algeria: A Human Rights Abuse Alert report on Algeria, July 2019. This alert was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
• Egypt: Reports on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt commissioned by the State Lawsuit (Litigation) Authority of Egypt, 2015.
• Sri Lanka: Submissions to the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) relating to the 30-year conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).
Gillian is currently senior advisor to the Government of South Sudan on international legal issues. She has also provided advice and legal services to a range of organisations including the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Kurdish Human Rights Project. She has also conducted fact-finding missions and trial observations.
International Fraud and Corruption
In FBME, Saab and Saab v Dangate, Brown and Leighton, 2019, Gillian appeared as defence counsel in litigation in the Commercial Court concerning two ex-Metropolitan police officers, sued by the owners of FBME bank. The litigation concerned an alleged breach of a confidentiality agreement in relation to the provision of information to the 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.
In Top Zinc Ltd v Hilton Hotels, Alix Partners et al, 2018, Gillian was instructed to advise in respect of legal action by Vincent Tchenguiz concerning 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 was believed to be undersold.
Cultural Heritage: In 2023, Gillian launched the Cultural Heritage Desk at 9BR Chambers. She provides legal services and lends her mediation and negotiation skills to resolving issues arising in this field including cultural restitution. She also reviews publications in this field for Oxford University Press.
Interpol: In 2019, Gillian and Steven Kay KC established the Interpol Red Notice Desk at 9BR Chambers to deal with an increasing number of international arrest warrants subject to challenge as either politically or financially motivated.
Mediation: As an accredited civil and commercial mediator, Gillian uses this skillset to assist clients with ‘difficult conversations’, broker agreements and empower institutions and government agencies to facilitate better communication. She is also a faculty member of the London School of Meditation.
Wellbeing: In addition to her legal practice, Gillian is a recognised pioneer of wellbeing at the Bar as an accredited mindfulness teacher. For the past 7 years, she has designed and developed presentations, workshops, and courses for a broad range of legal institutions and bodies including The International Criminal Court, Gray’s Inn, Women in Criminal Law, The Criminal Bar Association, The South-Eastern Circuit, civil and commercial chambers, Barclays Bank and JPM Chase. Gillian is the author of Mindfulness at Work and Home and is a Champion of LawCare.
• Called to the Bar 1997, Gray’s Inn
• Founder of the International Criminal Law Bureau, 2008
• Independent Commissioner to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, 2019-2021
• Accredited civil and commercial mediator
• Investigative interviewer (accredited by Intersol Global)
List Counsel at the International Criminal Court, Criminal Bar Association, Founding member of the International Criminal Law Bureau
• Oxford University Press Book Review: International Cultural Heritage Law by Janet Blake, 2023; Counsel Magazine, “How to Tame Your Inner Critic”, September 2019; Mindfulness at Work and Home, 2019; Blog editor and publisher for the International Criminal Law Bureau; OUP Book review of Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by Daniel H Joyner, 2012; Examination-in-Chief and Cross-Examination, chapter in Transferring War Crimes Cases From the ICTY, UNICRI 2011; The Development of the Right to Self-Representation before the International Criminal Tribunals, chapter in Judicial Creativity at the International Criminal Tribunals, OUP, 2011; 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; Entries on The Prosecutor v Slobodan Milosevic and The Prosecutor v Ferdinand Nahimana in the Oxford Companion to International Criminal Law, OUP 2009; Fair and Expeditious Pre-Trial Proceedings: The Future of International Criminal Trials, Journal of International Criminal Justice 2007; The Impact of the Size, Scope and Scale of the Milosevic Trial, special edition, Criminal Law Forum 2006; Life Beyond the Crown Court Grind, The Times 11 October 2005; The Intoxication Defence and Theories of Criminal Liability: A Praxeological Approach by Martin Shain and Gillian Higgins, Contemporary Drug Problems, Volume 24, Issue 4, pages 731-736, 1999.
Educated at Exeter University (LLB, 1st Class); LLM in Law, Trinity Hall, Cambridge University
Fluent in French