Professional practice

Luke specialises in international arbitration and litigation. He has particular expertise in public international law including investment treaty arbitration, along with complex jurisdictional challenges and large-scale fraud litigation.

He has acted in arbitral proceedings under the ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC, PCA and LCIA rules along with arbitration related court applications in the UK and overseas.

Luke regularly advises both State and non-State parties across the full range of international law issues. Recent work has included challenges to the enforcement of investor-State arbitral awards, jurisdictional applications based on State immunity, issues of State responsibility concerning attribution, various points of international humanitarian law in on-going armed conflicts and issues of international human rights law under the ECHR and UN Conventions. He also regularly advises on the law of economic sanctions, principally under the United Nations, European Union and UK sanctions regimes, this includes advising on individual designations as well as travel bans, asset freezing and arms embargoes.

Many of Luke’s cases involve the application of foreign law and he is used to working with expert witnesses and lawyers in other jurisdictions to prepare reports and submissions. Examples of recent cases governed by foreign law include: Russia, Switzerland, Kuwait, Denmark, Singapore, Thailand, Belize, China, Hong Kong, India, Kyrgyzstan, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the United States (federal law) and laws of New York.

Alongside practice, Luke teaches Public International Law at Cambridge University and has published work concerning investor-State arbitration, State immunity, the conflict of laws and various aspects of commercial litigation. In 2020 he was awarded the Lalive Merryman Fellowship at the University of Geneva for an article published on the subject of State immunity.

 

International Arbitration

Luke has extensive experience in both investment treaty and international commercial arbitration. He has worked on cases under the ICSID, UNCITRAL, ICC, PCA and LCIA rules along with ss.67, 68 and 69 appeals, as well as the enforcement of arbitral awards against both companies and States.

Examples of investment treaty arbitrations include:

  • Middle Eastern Investors v African State (UNCITRAL) Acting for the respondent State in claims under bilateral and multilateral treaties concerning damage to infrastructure during an armed conflict.
  • United States Investor v South Pacific State (ICC) Acted for the respondent State advising on various issues of international law in relation to an ongoing arbitration with a United States investor.
  • European Investors v Asian State (UNCITRAL) Acted for the respondent State in proceedings relating to the enforcement of a USD$ 1.5 billion arbitral award obtained under a BIT. The challenge was based on various points of international investment law and the law of State immunity.
  • European Investors v Asian State (UNCITRAL) Acted for investors in a substantial arbitration against an Asian State brought under multilateral and bilateral investment treaties concerning claims of harassment by the State’s security services and judicial corruption in the municipal courts.
  • European Investors v European State (UNCITRAL) Acted for investors in an Achmea jurisdictional challenge brought by the European Commission concerning proceedings commenced under an intra-EU BIT.
  • Advised in relation to the recognition and enforcement of a series of arbitral awards obtained under the UNCITRAL rules and administered by the Permeant Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The case raised issues regarding State immunity, the New York Convention, freezing injunctions against foreign States and security from the English courts whilst the awards were being challenged in jurisdictions abroad.
  • Advised in relation to the recognition and enforcement of several arbitral awards obtained against CIS States. The case concerned detailed examination of the State Immunity Act 1978 and the likelihood of obtaining interim-remedies pending execution of the awards.
  • Assisted Paul Key QC acting on behalf of Nigeria in Process & Industrial Developments Ltd v The Federal Republic of Nigeria [2018] EWHC 3714 (Comm) concerning relief from sanctions regarding the enforcement of a USD$ 9 billion arbitral award.
  • Advised on jurisdictional issues arising under a bilateral investment treaty and whether investments were excluded if made in breach of the host-State’s domestic laws.
  • Advised in relation to claiming moral damages under public international law for non-pecuniary loss arising as a result of a State’s actions undertaken through its police and security services.

Luke has also published numerous articles and book chapters on investment treaty law, including in the European Yearbook of International Economic Law and The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals.

Examples of international commercial arbitrations include:

  • An ongoing LCIA arbitration for a United States company concerning the recovery of investments made in a multibillion dollar project in Northeast Africa.
  • An ICC arbitration concerning breach of contracts for the international sale of goods. The case featured heavily around the application of the principle of force majeure.
  • Drafted the statements of case for an LCIA arbitration concerning a complex share purchase agreement being undertaken in East Africa.
  • An UNCITRAL arbitration concerning breach of a guarantor agreement for sums loaned to state-owned entities in Central Asia.
  • Prepared a substantial Section 67 Arbitration Act 1996 appeal regarding whether or not the tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the case.
  • Prepared a Section 68 Arbitration Act 1996 appeal to overturn an award on the grounds that the tribunal had failed to deal with all the issues put to it.
  • Advised numerous companies and State-entities on the enforcement of commercial arbitration awards in the English courts.

Luke authors and edits the chapters on international arbitration in The Encyclopedia of International Commercial Litigation, (Kluwer Law International) Mr Justice Bryan (Ed).

Public International Law

Luke has particular expertise in public international law. He has acted in investment treaty arbitrations as junior counsel under bilateral, multilateral and regional investment agreements concerning a range of treaty standards, including expropriation, fair and equitable treatment, most favoured nation and national treatment provisions. He has advised on the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards against States and has experience of the law of State, consular and diplomatic immunity, State responsibility and the extraterritorial application of States’ laws.

Luke has also advised on a range of United Nations and European Union sanctions regimes as well as issues of international humanitarian and human rights law. In 2020, he was awarded the Lalive Merryman Fellowship to undertake research in international law at the University of Geneva.

Examples of general international law matters include:

  • Advising States on a range of issues concerning State responsibility and attribution under international conventions and customary international law in relation to matters of armed conflict, genocide, torture, discrimination and human rights.
  • Advised on issues of Statelessness and asylum under the UN Conventions on Statelessness and the Hague Convention on the Conflict of Nationality in relation to non-recognised States.
  • Advised on the drafting of bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding between States in the Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.
  • Advised extensively on issues of State immunity in relation to jurisdiction before the English courts as well as issues of enforcement against commercial and public property held by States in the United Kingdom.
  • Advised on issues of consular and diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations with regards to employment disputes, including the enforcement of judgments and awards.
  • Advised on issues of United Nations and European Union sanctions regimes in relation to arms embargoes, travel bans and asset freezes, including the process of obtaining exemptions from sanction measures.
  • Advised on the United Nations Security Council’s powers under Chapter VII of the UN Charter with regards to threats to peace and acts of aggression.
  • Advised on issues concerning the foreign act of State doctrine and its application to matters undertaken by foreign States within their territories.

Examples of international investment law include:

  • Middle Eastern Investors v African State (UNCITRAL) Acting for the respondent State in claims under bilateral and multilateral treaties concerning damage to infrastructure during an armed conflict.
  • United States Investor v South Pacific State (ICC) Acted for the respondent State advising on various issues of international law in relation to an ongoing arbitration with a United States investor.
  • European Investors v Asian State (UNCITRAL) Acted for the respondent State in proceedings relating to the enforcement of a USD$ 1.5 billion arbitral award obtained under a BIT. The challenge was based on various points of international investment law and the law of State immunity.
  • European Investors v Asian State (UNCITRAL) Acted for investors in a substantial arbitration against an Asian State brought under multilateral and bilateral investment treaties concerning claims of harassment by the State’s security services and judicial corruption in the municipal courts.
  • European Investors v European State (UNCITRAL) Acted for investors in an Achmea jurisdictional challenge brought by the European Commission concerning proceedings commenced under an intra-EU BIT.
  • Advised in relation to the recognition and enforcement of a series of arbitral awards obtained under the UNCITRAL rules and administered by the Permeant Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The case raised issues regarding State immunity, the New York Convention, freezing injunctions against foreign States and security from the English courts whilst the awards were being challenged in jurisdictions abroad.
  • Advised in relation to the recognition and enforcement of several arbitral awards obtained against CIS States. The case concerned detailed examination of the State Immunity Act 1978 and the likelihood of obtaining interim-remedies pending execution of the awards.
  • Assisted Paul Key QC acting on behalf of Nigeria in Process & Industrial Developments Ltd v The Federal Republic of Nigeria [2018] EWHC 3714 (Comm) concerning relief from sanctions regarding the enforcement of a USD$ 9 billion arbitral award.
  • Advised on jurisdictional issues arising under a bilateral investment treaty and whether investments were excluded if made in breach of the host-State’s domestic laws.
  • Advised in relation to claiming moral damages under public international law for non-pecuniary loss arising as a result of a State’s actions undertaken through its police and security services.

Luke has also published numerous articles and book chapters on the law of investment treaties, including in the European Yearbook of International Economic Law and The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals.

Examples of international humanitarian (law of armed conflict) and human rights include:

  • Advised in relation to questions of international humanitarian law under the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, their additional protocols and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, concerning the treatment of civilians during times of armed conflict.
  • Advised on the interrogation techniques and pre-detention conditions of prisoners being held abroad in respect of their rights under customary international law as well as the obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • Advised on the legal distinction between national and international armed conflicts and the applicable rules of international humanitarian law under each.
  • Advising applicants on the prospects of bringing a claim in the European Court of Human Rights for breaches of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the ECHR.
  • Advised in relation to a State’s international human rights obligations when enforcing the death penalty for individuals convicted of serious crimes and the prospective challenges which could be brought in the domestic courts.
  • Advised on issues of State responsibility concerning the actions of paramilitary forces and other non-State actors in armed conflicts.
  • Advised on the compatibility of United Nations and European Union sanctions with respect to the European Convention on Human Rights.
  • Advised on issues of international law applying to the transfer and sale of weapons under various international conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty, the Cluster Munitions Convention and the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention.

Luke is also regularly engaged by the Legal Directorate of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom to provide advice on a range of public international law issues.

In addition to practice, Luke has published numerous articles on international law covering State immunity, the enforcement jurisdiction of States abroad, the effectiveness of investment treaties within the European Union and abuse of process before the International Court of Justice. He is also well versed in the law of the World Trade Organization.

Private International Law

Luke’s cases regularly raise difficult jurisdictional issues across the full spectrum of private international law, including challenges based on forum conveniens, the Recast Brussels and Rome Regulations. He has experience of seeking antisuit injunctions along with the recognition and enforcement of both judgments and arbitral awards.

Examples include:

  • SKAT (the Danish Customs and Tax Authority) v Solo Capital Partners LLP & Ors [2021] EWHC 974 (Comm) Acting (with Alison Macdonald QC) for three defendants in proceedings concerning a US$2 billion fraud claim brought by the Kingdom of Denmark in relation to a jurisdictional challenge based on the extraterritorial enforcement of sovereign authority abroad (i.e. the rule in Government of India v Taylor). The case also concerns detailed examination of matters arising under the Recast Brussels and Lugano Conventions.
  • The Kuwait Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & Ors Acted for and advised a defendant on issues of jurisdiction and foreign law in respect of claims brought by a public body of Kuwait in relation to allegations of fraud exceeding US$ 847 million over a twenty year period.
  • Assisted James Collins QC and David Davies in preparing the case of Willmont v Elm International Ltd & Ors in relation to service of a claim outside the jurisdiction on seven defendants domiciled abroad.
  • Prepared an application for an emergency ex parte antisuit injunction to restrain foreign proceedings which had been brought in breach of a jurisdiction agreement.
  • Advised on whether re-litigating matters in England which had been dealt with before the courts of Russia and Ukraine would constitute issue estoppel and abuse of process, the case raised points of res judicata.
  • Advised on the recognition and enforcement of judgments in England that had been obtained by State-owned entities in Russia.
  • Assisted David Davies in Paradiso v Vdovin. The case raised detailed points concerning service out under the Recast Brussels Regulation and the CPR.
  • Advised on the recognition and enforcement of English contempt of court proceedings – including the possibility of extradition – against defendants domiciled outside of the European Union.
  • Advised on obtaining a stay of proceedings where parallel litigation had been commenced in the United States as well as in England.

Luke regularly works on cases governed by foreign law and is used to liaising with expert witnesses in preparing submissions, examples of foreign law cases include: Russia, Switzerland, Kuwait, Denmark, Singapore, Thailand, Belize, China, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the United States (federal law) and New York.

Luke authors and edits the relevant chapters on jurisdiction in The Encyclopedia of International Commercial Litigation, (Kluwer Law International) Mr Justice Bryan (Ed).

International Fraud & Asset Recovery

Luke has a range of experience in financial crime concerning States, individuals, companies and banks. He has assisted with obtaining a range of remedies in relation to the location and seizure of assets including freezing injunctions, proprietary injunctions, charging orders, search orders, asset preservation orders, Norwich Pharmacal relief, Bankers Trust relief and third-party debt orders. Examples include:

  • National Bank Trust v Yurov & Ors [2020] EWHC 100 (Comm) Acted (with Nathan Pillow QC, David Davies QC and Anton Dudnikov) in a nine-week trial and consequentials concerning a US$ 1 billion fraud claim brought by a private Russian bank against its former directors and their wives. The case was governed by Russian law.
  • Suppipat v Nop Narongdeg & Ors Acting (with Anna Dilnot QC and Helen Morton) for three defendants in a US$2 billion fraud claim brought by the former owner of Thailand’s largest renewable energy company. The Claimant fled Thailand prior to allegations of extortion and kidnapping. As a result, he sold his interest in the energy business to a Thai family and now seeks to reclaim it on the basis of an alleged conspiracy.
  • SKAT (the Danish Customs and Tax Authority) v Solo Capital Partners LLP & Ors Acting (with Alison Macdonald QC) for three defendants in proceedings concerning a US$2 billion fraud claim brought by Denmark for the reimbursement of withholding tax.
  • The Kuwait Public Institution for Social Security v. Al Rajaan & Ors Acted for and advised a defendant in claims brought by the public body of Kuwait responsible for social security and pensions in relation to allegations of fraud exceeding US$ 847 million over a twenty year period.
  • DMC Building Machines v Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs [2020] Acted (with David Scorey QC) for the appellant in a two-week trial concerning allegations of an orchestrated scheme to defraud the UK Treasury through European commodities trading.
  • Ex parte application, United States company v international bank Acted (with Richard Edwards QC) in an ex parte application for Norwich Pharmacal relief seeking information to commence claims concerning purportedly fraudulent activities.
  • LCIA arbitration concerning a significant monetary claim arising from a metals fraud perpetrated by way of a series of repo transactions.
  • Advised in relation to the fraudulent transfer of shares. The case raised issues concerning the tort of deceit, tort of intimidation, breach of fiduciary duties, conspiracy and dishonest assistance.
  • Assisted Paul McGrath QC and David Davies in Willmont v Elm International Ltd & Ors [2017]. The case concerned whether a number of high value properties which are being held in offshore trusts, subsidiary companies and Liechtenstein foundations are beneficially owned by an individual who had filed bankruptcy, to satisfy a judgment debt of US$ 195.5 million.
  • Advised in relation to an alleged gold fraud. The case raised issues of the tort of conversion, along with proprietary and domestic freezing injunctions.
  • Advised in relation to directors’ liabilities under the corporate veil regarding claims for conspiracy and deceit in fraud.
Human rights & civil liberties

Luke’s human rights practice centres around cases involving public international law where issues of human rights and civil liberties are engaged, examples of recent work include:

  • Civilians in armed conflict: advised in relation to questions of international humanitarian law under the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, their additional protocols and Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, concerning the treatment of civilians during times of armed conflict.
  • Torture and cruel, inhumane & degrading treatment: advised on the interrogation techniques and pre-detention conditions of prisoners being held abroad in respect of their rights under customary international law (jus cogens) as well as under the obligations arising from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • European Convention on Human Rights: advising applicants on the prospects of bringing a claim in the European Court of Human Rights for breaches of Article 2 (right to life) and Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the ECHR.
  • Death penalty: advised as to a state’s international and human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights when enforcing the death penalty for individuals convicted of serious crimes and the prospective challenges which could be brought in the domestic courts.
  • Sanctions: advised on the human rights implications of enforcing United Nations and European Union sanctions regimes against individuals in respect of Russia and Libya.

Whilst studying, Luke was awarded the Advanced Public Law Prize for coming first in the year on a course analysing the European Convention on Human Rights.

Banking & financial services

Luke has experience in a range of banking and financial services cases covering bonds, commercial paper, repo transactions, swaps, derivatives, guarantor and share purchase agreements. Much of the work Luke has assisted with intersects with fraud. Examples include:

  • Instructed in National Bank Trust v Yurov & Ors [2020] EWHC 100 (Comm) (with Nathan Pillow QC, David Davies and Anton Dudnikov). The case involved a nine week Commercial Court trial concerning a US$ 1 billion claim for fraud brought by a private Russian bank against its former directors and their spouses. The case was governed by Russian law.
  • Drafted the statements of case for an UNCITRAL arbitration concerning breach of a guarantor agreement and non-payment of sums loaned by a bank to state-owned entities in Central Asia.
  • Drafted advice to a French bank regarding a claim for unjust enrichment stemming from a swaps and derivatives transaction. The case raised issues regarding international monetary sanctions.
  • Drafted advice regarding claims against an issuing bank and the arrangers and permeant dealers of a European Commercial Paper programme following the collapse and nationalisation of the bank.
  • Assisted in preparing an LCIA arbitration concerning a complex share purchase agreement undertaken in East Africa. The case raised issues regarding whether a party could be compelled to modify its arrangements with the African Central Bank.
  • Assisted Edward Brown in Yuchai v Suisse Credit Capital Ltd [2018]. The case concerned a claim for sums due pursuant to a letter of credit worth US$ 3 million. The case involved detailed consideration of banking SWIFT codes and UCP.
Art & Cultural Heritage

Luke is well versed in issuing arising in the sale, export and recovery of art and cultural heritage. Examples of recent cases include:

  • Assisted in preparing the case of Sotheby’s v Weiss Ltd [2017]. The case concerned a claim for US$ 10 million regarding an alleged forgery of a Dutch Golden Age painting said to have been painted by Frans Hals. The case involved reviewing forensic art reports compiled by experts to ascertain the authenticity of the painting.
  • Advised a New York based art collector on the sale of a large portfolio of sculptures to an investment firm in Hong Kong.

In addition to practice, Luke has lectured at a conference held by the Institute of Art and Law at Queen Mary University discussing sovereign immunity in art and cultural heritage disputes and has been published in the International Journal of Cultural Property, for which his article concerning the restitution of expropriated art was awarded the Lalive Merryman Fellowship by the University of Geneva.

Career

2019: Teaching Commercial Law at Cambridge University

2018: Tenancy at Essex Court Chambers

2017: Pupillage at Essex Court Chambers

2016: Called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn)

Education

2019-: DPhil candidate, Christ Church, University of Oxford (ongoing)

2016/17: LLM, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge (First Class)

2012/15: LLB (Hons), St Chad’s College, Durham University (First Class)

Awards

2020: Lalive Merryman Fellowship, University of Geneva

2020: Law Faculty Scholarship, University of Oxford

2017: Jennings Prize, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge

2016: Sir David Williams Scholarship, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge

2016: Wright Rogers Law Scholarship, University of Cambridge

2015: Prince of Wales Scholarship, Gray’s Inn

2015: Dean’s Award, Bar Professional Training Course

2015: Prize for Advanced Public Law, Durham University

2013/15: University Commendation x3, Durham University

Publications

Luke regularly writes on topics of interest, recent publications include:

Books:

Co-author and editor of The Encyclopedia of International Commercial Litigation, (Kluwer Law International) Mr Justice Bryan (Ed).

Contributing author, Supperstone, Goudie and Walker: Judicial Review (6th edition) Helen Fenwick (Ed).

Journals:

The Law Quarterly Review – international humanitarian law

The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals – abuse of process before the International Court of Justice

The European Yearbook of International Economic Law – investor-state arbitration

The African Journal of International and Comparative Law – comity in international law

The International Journal of Cultural Property – state immunity

Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly – the extraterritorial application of states’ laws

The Journal of International and Comparative Law – no oral modification clauses (New York and English law)

The Law Quarterly Review – estoppel by acquiescence

The European Journal of Law Reform – chancery litigation

Trusts & Trustees – chancery litigation

Trust Law International – proprietary estoppel