Professor Philippe Sands QC

Matrix Chambers

Philippe is Professor of public understanding of law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is President of English PEN and on the board of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature.

Author of many books, including East West Street (2016) and The Ratline (2020), Philippe is an occasional contributor to many publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times, and appears regularly on the BBC and CNN. His next book, The Last Colony, will be published in September 2022.

Over recent years, Philippe has developed a practice in general international law, covering a wide range of subjects, acting as counsel and arbitrator.

Areas in which he currently advises, litigates and arbitrates include:

  • maritime boundary disputes in the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans;
  • international claims relating to natural resources, pollution and environmental protection;
  • international investment disputes, as arbitrator;
  • issues relating to human rights and immunities;
  • international claims relating to the use of force and allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity, and other violations of fundamental human rights;
  • cases relating to individual violations of international criminal laws;
  • international sports disputes, as arbitrator .

He has appeared before many international courts, including the European Court of Justice; the International Court of Justice; the World Trade Organisation dispute settlement organs; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea; the International Criminal Court; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He has appeared in arbitrations under the rules of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Chamber of Commerce; the World Bank Inspection Panel; and the Special Court for Sierra Leone). Philippe also appears before the English courts.

Philippe has accepted appointments as an arbitrator in several cases under ICSID and UNCITRAL rules. He is on the list of arbitrators in the field of natural resources and the environment maintained by the Secretary General to the Permanent Court of Arbitration and is a designated Member of the Panel of Arbitrators established by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Having accepted an appointment as ICSID arbitrator, since July 2007 he has not accepted new instructions to act as counsel in investment treaty arbitrations. In June 2011, he was appointed to the panel of arbitrators of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), and has been appointed as arbitrator in several cases since September 2011.