Steven Kay QC

Steven Kay QC

9 Bedford Row

London WC1R 4AZ


0044 207 489 2727



  • Called to the Bar of the Inner Temple 1977
  • Queen’s Counsel 1997
  • Recorder of the Crown Court 1997- current
  • Master of the Bench of Inner Temple 2008 – current
  • Co-Chair IBA War Crimes Committee 2012-16
  • Special Advisor IBA War Crimes Committee 2017-current
  • Chair ABA International Criminal Justice Standards Working Group 2017-current

Associated Work

  • Secretary of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales 1993-1996
  • Prime Minister’s Special Committee on Victims in the Criminal Justice System 1995
  • Founder Member of the European Criminal Bar Association 1997
  • Founder member of the International Criminal Law Bureau 2008

Quotes from directories

  • He has a stellar international criminal law practice and he is great in court.”
  • Chambers UK 2016Steven Kay QC  “Has significant experience before the International Criminal Court in matters involving crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is also sought after to counsel governments, corporations and membership organisations on best practice and compliance matters”.
  • Chambers UK 2017: Steven Kay QC “Leading silk with a vast depth of experience of handling ICC proceedings, particularly those involving significant and high-profile political figures”.

Steven Kay QC is Head of Chambers at 9 Bedford Row a leading set of barrister’s Chambers established in London over 60 years ago. He is a leading international criminal lawyer with a global reputation who has been in many of the landmark cases that have established modern international criminal law and led the 9 BRi team that successfully obtained the withdrawal of the case at the ICC against President Uhuru Kenyatta. His cases below demonstrate the depth of experience and the quality of the work for which he has been hired. 9 Bedford Row’s other international lawyers have been involved in most of these cases with him and they have developed together an impressive team to meet the unique challenges these cases present in whatever part of the world they may arise.

Steven is experienced in advising clients at the crisis stage of an international situation by setting out their options and guiding their responses, whilst also making the preparations necessary for future litigation. International cases are complex and demanding, they require a careful exercise of judgment and a thorough understanding of the issues involved so that a case is ready by the time you arrive in court. Experience has shown that good systems for the collection and management of evidence are necessary and he assembles highly able team members to perform these tasks. The presentation of that material in oral or written form is crucial and it is here where his advocacy and presentational skills are able to make the difference in a clear, understandable and accurate presentation of a case either through the questioning of witnesses or speeches.

Some international situations upon which he has been asked to advise are necessarily confidential.
Steven Kay


International CV


The Prosecutor v Uhuru Kenyatta 2010-2015


International Criminal Court proceedings commenced in December 2010 against President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, and son of the first President of the nation, Jomo Kenyatta, alleging a leading role in the post-election violence of 2007 – 2008 for which he was charged with crimes against humanity. At the confirmation of charges hearing the Defence challenged the Prosecution case theory comprehensively and called Uhuru Kenyatta to give evidence in his own defence. The Defence evidence and submissions to the court clearly established the strong foundationsof the defence case. Although the Pre-Trial Judges confirmed the charges, it was subsequently established that the Defence contentions at the hearing had been correct. Furthermore, an alternative case the Prosecution had tried to create against Uhuru Kenyatta after confirmation of charges was also successfully challenged. In January 2015 the charges were finally withdrawn by the Prosecution, having admitted there was an insufficiency of evidence upon which to proceed to trial. The result achieved by the 9BR team in this case has changed the course of African politics. To read a report on the case go to:

See also:


The Prosecutor v Ivan Čermak 2007-2011

Acquittal of General Cermak at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia which undertook the prosecution of three Croatian Generals arising from the conduct of military forces in Operation Storm in August 1995 that resulted in the liberation of territory from the RSK. Gillian Higgins of 9BRi was co-counsel with him in this case. that has been described as the most important trial in the history of the State of Croatia. The essential evidence to be challenged in this case principally arose from UN witnesses who had their own view of matters on the ground, as opposed to the reality of Cermak’s position in fact. Detailed review of military regulations and orders was necessary to persuade the court of the actual and exact unfolding of events at the time, not apparent from the Prosecution case. Expert evidence from internationally respected witnesses upon the Croatian military and powers of the police underpinned the truth of the Defence case.

Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal 2010-2014

January 2011 Steven was instructed with the 9BRi team by Jamaat E Islami to represent their members prosecuted by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal for war crimes alleged to have taken place in the conflict to create the state of Bangladesh in 1971. Steven challenged the fairness of the Bangladesh International Crimes Act and its Rules at a human rights conference in Dakhar, in October 2010 attended by many leading politicians and lawyers and exposed in a public forum the flaws of the ICTA 1973 to start the Defence campaign to challenge the fairness of the ICT. The 9BRi team on the case worked with local lawyers to put together trial strategies and build the Defence cases to challenge the Prosecution’s evidence. The further brief to the team was to attempt persuade the Government of Bangladesh to reform its laws that have been internationally condemned as unfair and to seek international support to pressurize for reforms.

The Prosecutor v President Slobodan Milosevic 2001-2006

U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia appointed Steven in September 2001 as amicus curiae with responsibility for defence issues in the trial of the ex-President of Serbia. In September 2004, he was appointed the Court Assigned Defence Counsel for Slobodan Milosevic. Gillian Higgins of 9BRi was also counsel in this historic case that was the first international trial of a Head of State. The trial was upon 3 joined indictments concerning the wars of the 1990s waged in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia by the Serbian forces and was the largest international criminal trial in its scope. This trial involved political, historical and factual issues of a highly complex nature and legal argument that has been referred to ever since.

The Prosecutor v Alfred Musema 1998-2001

U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This was the first trial of a civilian alleging command responsibility for genocide and it took place in Arusha, Tanzania. The Defence team included Gillian Higgins of 9BRi and they were the first U.N. Defence counsel to enter Rwanda to conduct investigations in the field. These investigations produced important and critical evidence for the case that had been overlooked by Prosecution investigators who had been established in the field.

The Prosecutor v Dusko Tadic 1996-1997

U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This was the first international war crimes trial since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of the 1940s. This landmark trial in 1996 established the foundation for modern international criminal law. Tadic was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case had many legal arguments that set the foundations for the future conduct of international trials. This case started with enormous emotional hostility against the accused and through the careful presentation of the Defence case, there was a sea-change of interest into the merits of the case which seemed inconceivable at the start.

Guantanomo Bay

Advised suspects held in US Army captivity on ways and means to exercise their human rights.

Kazakhstan 2006

With John Traversi of 9 BRi training Defence and Prosecution counsel in Kazakhstan how to deal with the introduction of jury trials into the criminal justice system in January 2007.


August 2008 – 2009 advisor to the government of Sudan re: referral by UN Security Council of Darfur situation to the International Criminal Court and the arrest warrant issued for President Bashir.


December 2005 – 2007 advisor to the Syrian Government and individuals concerning the investigation into the assassination of Lebanese ex-Premier, Rafik Hariri and 14 related terrorist explosions that are the subject of the jurisdiction of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Beslan Victims Complaint v Russia ECtHR 2011

Steven Kay QC and Eeva Heikkila undertook pro bono the case of the siege at the school in Beslan by Chechen terrorists in September 2004 and in 2013 received notice from the European court of Human Rights it had been referred to the Russian Government for observations. This landmark case has taken its first step in seeking justice for the victims against the Russian Government which now has to explain why it stormed a school full of children and civilians using tanks, flamethrowers and grenades on the third day of the hostage crisis. Many of the children were burned alive in the school gym, as the roof caught fire under the attack by the security forces. The case before the Court is that the deaths of the 334 hostages were as a result of the excessive and indiscriminate use of lethal force by the Russian security forces. After the storming of the school, the hospitals in the area were sealed-off by the Government and the victims’ families denied access and information. The case to the ECHR is not only that the assault upon the school violated the rights of the children and innocent civilians inside the school, but also that the persistent denial of justice and lack of accountability for this crime constitute individual breaches by the Russian Federation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Piracy 2012

Drafting with David Hammond of 9BRi the 100 Series Rules for the Use of Force for a Flag State and SAMI for submission to the IMO. Advising upon the liabilities of security companies, insurers, charterers and individuals in the use of force to protect a vessel and all aboard from piracy or armed robbery at sea. Advising upon the impact of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 upon companies employing armed guards or providing armed guards for the protection of merchant vessels. The 100 Series RUF has now received international recognition.

Bahrain 2012-2013

Drafting a report for the ABA ROLI on the effectiveness of the Defence in the criminal justice system of the Kingdom of Bahrain as part of the programme aimed at implementing internal justice reforms. Devising an 8-stage training programme manual to improve the quality of the Defence counsel that was followed by delivery of the training programme to lawyers and trainers in 2013.

Sri Lanka 2014

Providing submissions to the OISL of the UNHCHR on behalf of 3 Sri Lankan NGO’s upon the 30 years conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) that resulted in the final defeat of the LTTE in 2009. Steven led the team at 9BR that submitted detailed reports upon various aspects of the conflict and to support these with evidence. With documents originating from Sri Lanka, and extensive media reports from open sources, comprehensive and persuasive reports were compiled to challenge the extensive media campaign that had built up to prosecute Sri Lanka. The 9BR reports challenged the narrative issued by the NGOs and UNHCHR. To read one of the reports see:

Egypt 2015-16

Leader of the 9BR team from the international practice group at 9 Bedford Row commissioned by the State Lawsuit (Litigation) Authority of Egypt to provide a series of reports upon the Muslim Brotherhood, the first of which “The History of the Muslim Brotherhood” was released on 2 April 2015. The further reports are: The Egyptian experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in power 2012-2013; The Egyptian Revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood 2013; and The current situation in Egypt.

Virunga National Park Democratic Republic of Congo 2012

Pro-bono project to challenge on behalf of the Virunga National Park in DRC a UK FTSE 200 company, prospecting for oil and gas in the famous UNESCO Heritage site and home to the last species of mountain gorillas. This matter involved consideration of international environment law, the national laws of DRC and national laws of the company. Steven’s team at 9BR were determined to protect the local people and wildlife under threat from the commercial activities of the company.

IBA WCC Inquiry into the Political Prisons of Democratic Republic of North Korea 2016

In Washington DC took part with Kirsty Sutherland of 9BR, Federica D’Alessandra and Greg Kehoe in the Inquiry into the Kwanliso (political prisons) arranged by the IBA North American Office and heard by International Judges. See here


  • Inner Temple
  • Defence Counsel ICC
  • IBA


  • The Role of the Defence – Commentary on The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ed. Casese, Gaeta, Jones OUP 2002
  • International Criminal Justice – Westlaw online
  • Cases that Changed our Lives – The First Nuremburg Trial And Its Enduring Legacy “Even Rulers Are Under God And The Law”

Steven Kay QC est un membre du Bureau s’occupant d’affaires de droit international. Il est consulté et fournit conseil et formation à des gouvernements, des organisations internationales et des particuliers. Steven a représenté des chefs d’Etat, des hommes politiques de haut rang, des officiers de l’armée de même que des chefs d’entreprise d’Europe, du Moyen Orient et d’Afrique.

Steven Kay QC, Mitglied der Kanzlei, übernimmt internationale rechtliche Fälle und bietet Auskünfte, Beratungen und Training für Regierungen, Internationale Organisationen und private Klienten an. Steven hat Staatsoberhäupter, politische Anführer, militärische Anführer und Geschäftsmänner aus Europa, der arabischen Welt und Afrika vertreten.

Steven Kay QC es un miembro del Bureau emprendiendo casos legales internacionales, quien también proporciona servicios de consejería, consultoría y capacitación para gobiernos, organizaciones internacionales y clientes privados. Steven ha representado a Jefes de Estado, lideres militares y políticos, así como empresarios provenientes de Europa, el Mundo Árabe y África.

Steven Kay QC é un membro del Bureau che si occupa di casi legali a livello internazionale, garantisce consulenza ed assistenza legale nonché formazione professionale a governi, organizzazioni internazionali ed a singoli individui. Steven ha rappresentato capi di stato, leader politici e militari nonché uomini d’affari in Europa, Asia, Africa e Nord America.

斯蒂文·凯 质量管理 为该机构成员,负责承接国际法律案件,并为政府部门、国际组织、和私人客户提供咨询、顾问和培训服务。斯蒂文曾为来自欧洲、阿拉伯国家、和非洲的国家元首、政治领袖、军事领袖和商业人士等担任代理律师