Professional practice

C&P 2024

Sir Franklin (Frank) Berman joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1965 and was the Legal Adviser to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office from 1991-99. For the past 20 years he has been in practice in Essex Court Chambers specializing in international arbitration and advisory work in international law. He is Visiting Professor of International Law at Oxford and the University of Cape Town.

His over 50-year career in international law and diplomacy has spanned a wide and varied field, including settlement of disputes; the law of treaties; State responsibility; diplomatic and State immunity; maritime delimitation; the law of the Continental shelf; outer space and nuclear energy; the law of international organisations; the UN Security Council; the laws of war and neutrality; international criminal tribunals; and numerous other areas. In the light of this extensive experience, he is highly qualified for advisory work in all areas of public international law, for international dispute-settlement proceedings of all kinds and for international commercial and investment arbitration.

Sir Frank has served as an ad hoc Judge in the International Court of Justice: in the Case concerning Certain Property (Liechtenstein v. Germany) and recently in the two Appeals Related to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council. He was appointed by the Lord Chief Justice as the Legal Member of the Court of Arbitration in the Kishenganga dispute between Pakistan and India under the Indus Waters Treaty. He successfully represented Cambodia before the International Court in the Case concerning the Temple of Préah Vihear (Interpretation).

He was appointed by the British Government from 2004-2020 to the list of Arbitrators under the ICSID Convention, and has sat as Chairman* and Party-appointed** arbitrator in many ICSID arbitrations for both the claimant and host State.  He has also sat in ICSID annulment proceedings***, as well as in arbitrations under the ICC, PCA, Stockholm Arbitration Institute and LCIA (sole arbitrator), and ad hoc rules.

* The Rompetrol Group N.V. v. Romania; Alemanni et al. v. Argentine Republic; Global Trading Resource Corp. & others v. Ukraine; MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Company PLC v. Republic of Croatia;  Victor Pey Casado & President Allende Foundation v. Republic of Chile (Resubmission) ** F-W Oil Interests, Inc. v. Republic of Trinidad & Tobago; Bayindir Insaat Turizm Ticaret Ve Sanayi A.S. v. Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Russell Resources International Limited & others v. Democratic Republic of the Congo; Libananco Holdings Co. Ltd v. Republic of Turkey; Marion Unglaube v. Republic of Costa Rica; Reinhard Unglaube v. Republic of Costa Rica;  Vattenfall AB & others v. Federal Republic of Germany *** Consortium R.F.C.C. v. Kingdom of Morocco; Empresas Lucchetti v. Peru; CECF Transgabonais v. Republic of Gabon; Togo Électricité-GDF Suez v. Togo; Venezuela Holdings, B.V. et al. v. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

He is the former Chairman of the Diplomatic Service Appeal Board, and the Appeals Boards of the WEU and IOPCF. In 2001 he was appointed jointly by the Governments of the USA and Austria to be the Chairman of the Claims Committee of the General Settlement Fund for the Compensation of Victims of Nazi Persecution, a position he held throughout the work of the Committee. Since 2010 he has been a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Sir Frank was made KCMG in 1995. In 2006 he was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star of the Republic of Austria, and in 2014 the Grand Cross of the Royal Cambodian Order.


What others say

Chambers UK 2022 – Public International Law

“He knows everything about PIL principles and the reality of running those cases.”

Chambers UK 2015 – Public International Law 

“Tremendously well thought of and definitely a go-to person in the area.” 

Legal 500 2014 – Public International Law

“A very experienced practitioner with a long career in international law.”

Chambers UK 2014 – Public International Law

“He’s serious and comprehensive – the kind of person one listens to when he speaks. He has a certain weight. He also has a fine appreciation of the diplomatic and foreign relations aspects of the practice of law.”

Chambers UK 2014 – Public International Law

“Extremely highly respected in the field.” “His experience is almost unrivalled.”

Chambers Global 2013 – Public International Law: Most in Demand Arbitrators – Global-wide

Recognised by peers as a “highly competent international lawyer.”

Examples of notable cases

Whilst in government service

Arbitration between the UK and France on the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf in the Channel and W. Approaches (Deputy Agent)

Young Loan Arbitration (UK, US, France, Belgium and Switzerland v Federal Republic of Germany) (UK Agent)

International Court of Justice

Lockerbie Cases (Libya v UK, Libya v USA) (UK Agent)

Advisory Proceedings on the Legality of the Threat or Use of

Nuclear Weapons (UK Agent)

Kosovo Cases (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia v UK and ors)

(Agent and Counsel for the UK)

Whilst in private practice

Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Request for Interpretation) (Counsel for Cambodia)

Judge ad hoc on the International Court of Justice in the Case concerning Certain Property (Liechtenstein v. Germany)

Legal Member of the Court of Arbitration in the Kishenganga dispute between Pakistan and India under the Indus Waters Treaty

Arbitration & related court applications

Arbitrator in ICSID, LCIA & ICC cases.

International trade, transport & commodities

Judge ad hoc on the International Court of Justice for the case between Liechtenstein and Germany over Certain Property.

Legal Member of the Court of Arbitration between Pakistan and India under the Indus Waters Treaty 1961.

Public international law

An active member of numerous bodies concerned with international law and its practical application; Chairman of the International Law Association’s Committee on the Accountability of International Organisations. Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the British Institute of International & Comparative Law (BIICL).


2003—05  Judge ad hoc International Court of Justice

2001 to date  Chairman, Claims Committee, General Settlement Fund for Victims of Nazi Persecution   (Austria)

2000  Essex Court Chambers

1992  Silk (Hon)

1991—99  Legal Adviser to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

1966  Call: Middle Temple (Hon. Bencher 1997)

1965  Joined HM Diplomatic Service


1965  MA, Wadham & Nuffield Colleges, University of Oxford

1963   BA (1st Class Honours) in Jurisprudence Wadham & Nuffield Colleges, University of Oxford

1960   BSc, University of Cape Town

1959   BA (Mathematics), University of Cape Town


2014  Grand Cross of the Royal Cambodian Order

2006  Grand Decoration in Gold with Star, Austria

1996  Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael & St. George (KCMG)

1995  Hon. Fellow, later Fellow, Wadham College, University of Oxford

1961  Rhodes Scholar