Conor McCarthy

Call 2010 || 2016 (Northern Ireland)
Education
University of Cambridge, PhD (international law, remedies) Harvard University, HKS, (Kennedy Scholar) University of Cambridge, LLM in International Law: 1st Class Hons. Queen’s Belfast: LLB: 1st Class Hons.
Contact

+44 (0)20 7405 7211

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“An excellent drafter and an excellent advocate” with a “very impressive background” – Chambers UK 2019

“Very impressive”, “quick, efficient and helpful” – Chambers UK 2018

“Very thorough and compelling” – Chambers UK, 2018

Conor’s practice encompasses public law, civil claims and international law. He is regularly instructed in complex disputes, both public and commercial, across chambers’ core areas of work. His public law practice focuses on issues of international law or civil liberties arising through the actions of government departments and agencies.

He has substantial experience of multi-jurisdictional commercial and competition disputes, often being instructed in matters raising issues of jurisdiction, applicable law or international enforcement.  He also has expertise in international trade law and sanctions. He has been instructed in cases before both domestic and international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice.  He was appointed independent expert to the  Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Hearing on Sanctions.

Prior to coming to the bar, Conor was a fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and taught international law at Cambridge University. He has published widely on issues of international law.

  • Recent Work

    21st Century Fox/Sky – Merger Inquiry: Advising the Competition and Markets Authority on a wide range of issues concerning the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox and Sky.

    Emerald Supplies Limited v. British Airways and Ors: Junior Counsel for several hundred corporate claimants in large mutli-jurisdictional damages claim arising from the Air Cargo Cartel.

    Hyundai Heavy Industries and Ors v. British Airways: Junior Counsel for the Claimants in damages claim based on both EU and foreign law.

    Costa Rica v. Nicaragua (Certain Activities Carried Out By Nicaragua in the Border Area) (Reparation Phase): instructed as junior counsel to Costa Rica in claim for reparation before International Court of Justice arising from, inter alia, environmental harm caused by breach of international obligations by Nicaragua.

    Dixons Retail Limited and another v. MasterCard Incorporated & ors: Junior counsel for the Claimant in both High Court and CAT proceedings in a claim involving complex issues of private international law, jurisdiction and applicable law under both Rome II and earlier enactments.

    Western Saharan Campaign UK v. (1) HMRC and (2) Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [2016] 1 C.M.L.R. 36 Junior Counsel for the Claimant in challenge to legality of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement and the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement on grounds of incompatibility with public international law obligations of the EU.

    Campaign Against Arms Trade v. Secretary of State for Trade: Junior Counsel for the Claimant in landmark challenge to the legality of continued licensing of arms and military equipment for export to Saudi Arabia on grounds that weapons may be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    David Haigh v. Gulf Finance House Capital Ltd and ors (High Court, QBD): Instructed by Stephenson Harwood in a complex private international law claim in QBD involving issues of jurisdiction, applicable law and the torts of deceit, conspiracy to injury and unlawful means conspiracy.

    UK National v. State Official from Middle Eastern State (confidential): Advised the claimant on state immunity in respect of a potential private international law civil claim.

  • Public Law and Human Rights

    Campaign Against Arms Trade v. Secretary of State for Trade (High Court): Junior Counsel for the Claimant in landmark challenge to the legality of continued licensing of arms and military equipment for export to Saudi Arabia on grounds that weapons may be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    Western Saharan Campaign UK v. (1) HMRC and (2) Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (High Court) [2016] 1 C.M.L.R. 36 Junior Counsel for the Claimant in challenge to legality of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement and the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement on grounds of incompatibility with public international law obligations of the EU.

    R. (on the application of T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2015] A.C. 49 (Supreme Court): Junior counsel for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the Supreme Court in case concerning disclosure of personal information by police.

    Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales [2015] A.C. 1732 (Supreme Court): Junior Counsel for Welsh Women’s Aid in Supreme Court case concerning scope of protective duty under Article 2, ECHR and also concerning whether the police owe a duty of care in negligence to persons who contact them in an emergency.

    Belhadj v. Security Service [2015] UKIPTrib 13 132-H (IPT): Junior Counsel for the Claimant in a landmark case concerning the interpretation and application of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the protection under Article 8, ECHR of confidential information, in particular, legally privileged information.

    R (On the application of Catt) v. Association of Chief Police Officers and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2008] EWHC 1042 (Court of Appeal), junior counsel in intervention on behalf of Liberty in judicial review of decision to retain information on national extremism database in reliance on Article 8, ECHR.

    Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v G [2017] EWCA Civ 61 (Court of Appeal): Junior counsel for Claimant in landmark case concerning the interpretation and application of the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979.

    Chief Constable of South Wales Police v. Daniels and other (Court of Appeal) [2015] EWCA Civ 680, (led by Stephen Cragg QC), landmark judgment of the Court of Appeal on scope of immunity attaching to participants in legal proceedings.

    Girleanu v. Romania, ECtHR, acting alone, represented Guardian News and Media Limited in a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the imposition of sanctions upon a journalist for possession of sensitive information alleged to impinge upon national security.

    Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi v. France, ECtHR (Grand Chamber): acting alone, represented Media Legal Defence Initiative in an intervention before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR on issues of privacy and free expression.

    David Haigh v. Gulf Finance House Capital Ltd and ors (High Court, QBD): Instructed by Stephenson Harwood in a complex private international law claim in the QBD involving issues of jurisdiction, applicable law and the torts of deceit, conspiracy to injury and unlawful means conspiracy.

    Matua & Others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office: the ‘Mau Mau’ litigation, relating to claims for colonial-era ill-treatment in Kenya. Work on issues of reparation.

    Iraqi Civilian Litigation: private international law claims by Iraqi civilians arising out of allegations of ill treatment by UK armed forces. Advice on issues of public international law.

    Haquim v. Secretary of State for Defence (High Court, Administrative Division): junior counsel in claim relating to the transfer of Afghan detainees from UK custody to Afghan detention.

  • Commercial, Regulatory and Competition

    Conor is regularly instructed on questions of competition, EU and regulatory law. He has particular expertise in questions of private international law (applicable law and jurisdiction).

    21st Century Fox/Sky – Merger Inquiry: Advising the Competition and Markets Authority on a wide range of issues concerning the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox and Sky.

    Emerald Supplies Limited v. British Airways and Ors: Junior Counsel for several hundred corporate claimants in large mutli-jurisdictional damages claim arising from the Air Cargo Cartel.

    Hyundai Heavy Industries and Ors v. British Airways: Junior Counsel for the Claimants in damages claim based on both EU and foreign law.

    Dixons Retail Limited and another v. MasterCard Incorporated & ors [2015] Comp. A.R. 199: Acting as junior counsel for the Claimant in CAT proceedings, in a claim involving complex issues of private international law jurisdiction and applicable law under both Rome II earlier enactments.

    Dixons Retail Limited and another v. MasterCard Incorporated and ors [2015] EWHC 3673 (Ch): Acting as junior counsel for the Claimant in High Court strike out proceedings brought by MasterCard Incorporated and ors, raising issues, inter alia, of private international law.

    Leeds City Council and others v Samsung Electronics Corporation, High Court, Chancery Division: acting for Claimant and advising on various jurisdictional matters in this follow-on damages claim in respect of the operation of the LCD Cartel.

    David Haigh v. Gulf Finance House Capital Ltd and ors (High Court, QBD): Instructed by Stephenson Harwood in a complex private international law claim in QBD involving issues of jurisdiction, applicable law and the torts of deceit, conspiracy to injury and unlawful means conspiracy

    Recent Advisory Work

    Advising Ofwat on potential judicial review and on issues concerning competition law and regulatory reform.

    Advising a multinational IT firm on questions of commercial confidentiality and on the relationship between a settlement agreement and the requirements of competition law.

    Advising a Defendant in competition proceedings on questions of jurisdiction and applicable law under Rome II.

    Advising a multinational corporation in respect of obligations under EU and domestic law pursuant to an EU/UN Security Council Sanctions regime.

    Advising individuals and corporations as to potential to challenge an EU sanctions regime.

  • International Trade

    Conor has considerable experience of issues of general international law (for example, the law of treaties and state responsibility) as well as international trade law more specifically. He was recently instructed by Costa Rica in proceedings before the International Court of Justice against Nicaragua.

    As regards international trade law in particular, Conor has experience advising on a range of areas including market access, MFN and national treatment issues, issues of treaty interpretation in the trade context (as well as in the context of a range of other international law disputes). Recent advisory work in the field of trade includes significant advisory work for the Welsh Government on a issues regarding WTO agreements (Conor is on the Welsh Government’s B Panel of Counsel). He has recently advised a trade association on issues of preferential tariffs pursuant to a bilateral international trade agreement as well as on a number of issues concerned with export control. He has also advised a private body on possible supply chain obligations pre and post-Brexit in the context of the importation of certain raw materials.

    Prior to coming to the Bar Conor completed a PhD in international law at Cambridge University, where he also taught international law.

  • Information, Data Protection and Confidentiality

    Conor is regularly instructed in both private law claims and public law challenges in the field of information and data protection law, in cases raising issues concerning the retention, exploitation and disclosure of information.

    He has been instructed in numerous civil claims arising issues of misuse of personal information, confidentiality and data protection, including claims under the DPA and GDPR.

    R. (on the application of T) v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2015] A.C. 49 (Supreme Court): Junior counsel for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the Supreme Court in case concerning disclosure of personal information by police.

    R (On the application of Catt) v. Association of Chief Police Officers and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Court of Appeal, Civil Division), (Led by Martin Westgate QC), intervention on behalf of Liberty: Judicial review of decision to retain information on national extremism database, in reliance on Article 8, ECHR.

    Kupiec v. National Crime Agency and Chief Constable of West Mercia Police: Complex claim arising from the detention and imprisonment of a foreign national wrongly identified as wanted for extradition in a murder case.

    Sheriff v. HMCTS and Chief Constable of Derbyshire: successful claim against both Defendants in a complex damages action for breach of the DPA, Article 8, ECHR and Article 5, ECHR.

    Belhadj v. Security Service [2015] UKIPTrib 13 132-H (IPT): Junior Counsel for the Claimant in a landmark case concerning the interpretation and application of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the protection under Article 8, ECHR of confidential information, in particular, legally privileged information.

    Bureau of Investigative Journalism v. the United Kingdom, ECtHR: case concerning interception and the right to journalistic confidentiality.

    Girleanu v. Romania, ECtHR, acting alone, represented Guardian News and Media Limited in a third party intervention before the European Court of Human Rights in a case concerning the imposition of sanctions upon a journalist for possession of sensitive information alleged to impinge upon national security.

    Couderc and Hachette Filipacchi v. France, ECtHR (Grand Chamber): acting alone, represented Media Legal Defence Initiative in an intervention before the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR on issues of privacy and free expression.

  • Public International Law

    Conor has a great deal of expertise and experience in public international law. His expertise spans issues of state responsibility, treaty law, immunities from jurisdiction, justiciability and act of state as well as international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

    Costa Rica v. Nicaragua (Certain Activities Carried Out By Nicaragua in the Border Area) (Reparation Phase): instructed as junior counsel to Costa Rica in claim for reparation before International Court of Justice arising from, inter alia, environmental harm caused by breach of international obligations by Nicaragua.

    Advice for a trade association in respect of certain public international law trade issues arising from Brexit.

    Advising a governmental body on certain international law issues in connection with Brexit.

    Western Saharan Campaign UK v. (1) HMRC and (2) Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [2016] 1 C.M.L.R. 36 Junior Counsel for the Claimant in challenge to legality of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement and the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement on grounds of incompatibility with public international law obligations of the EU.

    Campaign Against Arms Trade v. Secretary of State for Trade: Junior Counsel for the Claimant in landmark challenge to the legality of continued licensing of arms and military equipment for export to Saudi Arabia on grounds that weapons may be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

    David Haigh v. Gulf Finance House Capital Ltd and ors (High Court, QBD): Instructed by Stephenson Harwood in a complex private international law claim in the QBD involving issues of jurisdiction, applicable law and the torts of deceit, conspiracy to injury and unlawful means conspiracy.

    UK National v. State Official from Middle Eastern State (confidential): Advised the claimant on state immunity in respect of a potential private international law civil claim.

    Jones v. the United Kingdom, ECtHR: Landmark case before the European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber) concerning State immunity and Article 6, ECHR.

    Gough v. United Kingdom, ECtHR: Claim brought by prisoner to challenge his repeated prosecution and punishment as infringement of right to free expression.

    Zubaydah v. Lithuania, ECtHR: work for Interights in case concerning extraordinary rendition, extraterritorial jurisdiction and torture.

    Garzon v. Spain, ECtHR: Produced an expert opinion with James Crawford SC on permissibility under international law of application of limitation periods in respect of grave violations of international human rights law.

    Matua & Others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office: the ‘Mau Mau’ litigation, relating to claims for colonial-era ill-treatment in Kenya.

    Iraqi Civilian Litigation: private international law claims by Iraqi civilians arising out of allegations of ill treatment by UK armed forces.

    Haquim v. Secretary of State for Defence (High Court, Administrative Division): led by Martin Westgate QC, claim relating to the transfer of Afghan detainees from UK custody to Afghan detention.

    Advising CARICOM in connection with potential international litigation;

  • Private International Law

    Conor has considerable expertise of issues of private international law. He regularly advises on private international law claims, particularly in connection with tortious liability, including applicable law, the application of foreign law, jurisdiction, procedural issues arising in such litigation as well as issues arising under Rome II Regulation (EC) No 864/2007. He has advised in relation to such proceedings both inside and outside the EU, including a variety of States in the Middle East.

    Emerald Supplies Limited v. British Airways and Ors: Junior Counsel for several hundred corporate claimants in large mutli-jurisdictional damages claim arising from the Air Cargo Cartel.

    Hyundai Heavy Industries and Ors v. British Airways: Junior Counsel for the Claimants in damages claim based on both EU and foreign law.

    David Haigh v. Gulf Finance House Capital Ltd and ors (High Court, QBD): Instructed by Stephenson Harwood in a complex private international law claim in QBD involving issues of jurisdiction, applicable law and the torts of deceit, conspiracy to injury and unlawful means conspiracy

    Dixons Retail Limited and another v. MasterCard Incorporated & ors [2015] Comp. A.R. 199: Acting as junior counsel for the Claimant in CAT proceedings, in a claim involving complex issues of private international law jurisdiction and applicable law under both Rome II earlier enactments.

    Dixons Retail Limited and another v. MasterCard Incorporated and ors [2015] EWHC 3673 (Ch): Acting as junior counsel for the Claimant in High Court strike out proceedings brought by MasterCard Incorporated and ors, raising issues, inter alia, of private international law.

  • Claims Against Public Authorities

    Conor is frequently instructed in a wide range of private law claims against the police and other public authorities. Recent and ongoing cases include:

    Claims for breach of Article 2 and 3 investigative duties, malicious prosecution and other causes of action, including cases involving unlawful searches and seizures, the use of batons and the unlawful disclosure of private information;

    Discrimination issues, such as the duty to make reasonable adjustments for the detention of individuals with mental health problems or issues of race and gender arising in the context of the exercise of police functions;

    Actions against local authorities in respect of breach of confidence, the tort of misuse of personal information and Article 8, ECHR arising, for instance, in the context of police investigations and proceedings.

    Conor is also often instructed in judicial review in relation to the exercise of police powers, in particular in the field of private information:

    Chief Constable of South Wales Police v. Daniels and other (Court of Appeal) [2015] EWCA Civ 680, (led by Stephen Cragg QC), landmark judgment of the Court of Appeal on scope of immunity attaching to participants in legal proceedings.

    R (On the application of Catt) v. Association of Chief Police Officers and Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (Court of Appeal, Civil Division), (Led by Martin Westgate QC), intervention on behalf of Liberty: Judicial review of decision to retain information on national extremism database, in reliance on Article 8, ECHR.

    W v. Bristol Social Services: Acting alone in complex High Court claim against social services for breach of Article 3, ECHR (failure to investigate and breach of both substantive and procedural obligations under Article 3, ECHR. The claim also involved complex issues of extraterritorial jurisdiction).

    Nimoh v. Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police (High Court, Administrative Division), acting alone, successfully acting for Claimant in having police administered caution quashed.

    R (on the application of T and another) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department and another, (Supreme Court), led by Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Conor was instructed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, in this case concerning the disclosure of information pertaining to an individual’s criminal record to potential employers and others.

  • Consultancy Work

    Conor has acted as an expert consultant on questions of international law to a range of international organizations and NGOs including the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and Interights.

    Expert Consultant, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime: Drafting extensive report on issues of human rights arising in context of counter-terrorism operations.

    Expert Consultant, International Criminal Court: Providing advice and analysis with regard to issues that may be faced in implementing the reparations mandate of the Court.

    Expert Consultant, British Institute of International and Comparative Law: external expert consultant on a donor-funded project concerning remedies for victims of violations of international law causing harm to education.

    Consultant, Interights: Along with Professor James Crawford SC, Conor prepared a substantial expert report on matters of public international law in support of pending litigation before the European Court of Human Rights in the case of  Baltasar Garzón v Spain.

  • Publications

    Conor has published numerous articles in leading peer reviewed journals on questions of international law, in particular in the areas of remedies in international law, international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law including pieces in the Journal of International Criminal Justice (Oxford University Press), European Human Rights Law Review (Sweet and Maxwell) and the International Journal of Transitional Justice (Oxford University Press) among others.

    Conor’s book, Reparations and Victim Support in the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) explores the ICC’s regime of victim redress and the role it plays within the context of other systems of remedies for grave violations of international law at the national and international levels.

    Conor’s published articles include the following:

    “Victim Redress and International Criminal Justice: Competing Paradigms or Compatible Forms of Justice?”, 10 Journal of International Criminal Justice (2012).

    “What Happens to the Frozen Fortune? The Libya Situation and Claims for Reparation”, 3 European Human Rights Law Review (2011).

    “Reparation for Gross Violations of Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law at the International Court of Justice” in Reparations for Victims of Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes: Systems in Place and Systems in the Making, C. Ferstman, M. Goetz and A. Stephens (eds.) (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2009) .

    “Reparations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and Reparative Justice Theory”, 3 International Journal of Transitional Justice 250 (2009).

    “Human Rights and the Laws of War under the American Convention on Human Rights”, 6 European Human Rights Law Review 762 (2008) .

    “Legal Conclusion or Interpretative Process? Lex Specialis and the Applicability of International Human Rights Standards”, in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law: Towards a New Merger in International Law, in N. Quenivet and R. Arnold (eds.) (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008).

    “Legal Reasoning and the Applicability of International Human Rights Standards during Military Occupation”, in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law: Towards a New Merger in International Law, N. Quenivet and R. Arnold (eds.) (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008).

    “The Paradox of the International Law of Military Occupation: Sovereignty and the Occupation of Iraq”, 10 Journal of Conflict and Security Law 43 (2005).

    “Optimal Protection of International Law: Navigating between European Absolutism and American Voluntarism”, Joost Pauwelyn, book review, Irish Yearbook of International Law, 2008 (Oxford: Hart Publications, 2010).

    “International Governance of War-Torn Territories: Rule and Reconstruction”, Richard Caplan, book review, 20 Journal of International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict 62 (2007).

  • What the Directories Say

    Administrative and Public Law: “An excellent drafter and an excellent advocate.” “Has a very impressive background as an academic and is a very good lawyer with substantive knowledge.” Chambers UK, 2019

    Civil Liberties and Human Rights: “An effective human rights lawyer.”Chambers UK, 2019

    Administrative and Public Law: “He is very thorough and compelling.” Chambers UK, 2018

    Civil Liberties and Human Rights: “Very quick, efficient and helpful.” “He is a very impressive international human rights specialist.”Chambers UK, 2018

  • Additional Information

    Academic Roles

    Conor previously taught international law on the Tripos course at the University of Cambridge. He is also a Visiting Fellow, British Institute of International and Comparative Law 2011-2012 and was a Guest Lecturer in International Humanitarian Law at the London School of Economics, (LLM Course) 2010-2011.

    Languages

    French (conversational) Spanish (basic)

    Memberships

    International Law Association

    American Society of International Law

    Committee On the Administration of Justice (NI)

    Human Rights Lawyers Association

    Awards

    JICJ Award (2012)

    Major Scholarship, Inner Temple

    Lord Chief Justice’s Prize

    Law Society Prize

    Winner, World Final, Jean Pictet, International Humanitarian Law Moot Competition (Geneva, 2004)

    Ramsey Turtle Scholarship

    Stanley Austin Prize

    Graham Memorial Scholarship

    Appointments

    Expert Consultant, British Institute of International and Comparative Law

    Roster of Expert Consultants, UNDP Democratic Governance and Human Rights

    Roster of Expert Consultants, UN Office of Drugs and Crime

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