Paul Key QC


Telephone: +442-078-138000

Fax: +44 207 813 8080

[email protected]


Paul Key is called to the Bar in New Zealand, England, New York and New South Wales.  Having spent much of his life as a barrister practising in London (following completion of a Ph.D. in law at Cambridge University), he was appointed an English Queen’s Counsel in 2013.  He proudly retains a New Zealand practising certificate. His first law degree was from the University of Auckland (LL.B. (Hons), 1990).  He was awarded various academic prizes during his studies in New Zealand, including the Clearly Memorial Prize and the University of Auckland Law School Senior Prize.  Prior to becoming a barrister in England, he worked as a solicitor in London with Herbert Smith (now known as Herbert Smith Freehills).

He is a highly-regarded specialist for all forms of international commercial litigation and international commercial arbitration (including investment treaty arbitrations). He has regular and on-going involvement in many important and high profile cases, including appearing for the International Chamber of Commerce in Jivraj v Hashwani (Supreme Court, England) and in a US$80 billion gas pricing arbitration dispute between two States.  He is known for his ability when working on large disputes “seamlessly to slot into the wider team and provide spot-on insights”.

Paul is based at Essex Court Chambers, one of the leading commercial law chambers in London. He has a broad-based commercial practice, with a particular emphasis on appearances in international commercial arbitrations and cross-border litigation. He frequently appears in the Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court.

He has substantial experience as counsel in heavyweight commercial law disputes in the following areas: foreign investment; international trade; joint ventures; power and other large scale infrastructure projects; oil & gas; telecommunications; shipping; agency and distribution (including commercial agency); conflict of laws; and public international law (largely in the investment context).  He also acts for many governments and government-related organisations.  Paul has conducted numerous international arbitrations under the leading international arbitral rules (e.g. ICC, ICSID, LCIA, SCC, SIAC and UNICTRAL) rules, and has represented or advised many sovereign states, including Australia, Brunei, China, Iran, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

He has been the New Zealand delegate to the UNCITRAL working group on international commercial arbitration and is currently the United Kingdom representative on the International Law Association’s committee for international commercial arbitration.

He receives exceptionally strong recommendations in the legal directories and in 2012 was awarded the “International Arbitration Junior of the Year” Award (Chambers and Partners Guide Awards).