05 Jul 2021

Freshfields' public international law head to join Essex Court Chambers

Ben Juratowitch QC, who was called to the Bar in May, will join the set in November

Ben Juratowitch QC Image courtesy of Essex Court Chambers

The Paris-based head of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s public international law team Ben Juratowitch QC is set to join Essex Courts Chambers in London.

Juratowitch joined Freshfields in 2008, becoming partner in 2013. He was called to the Bar in May and will commence full time practice as a barrister in November. His decision to join Essex Court underscores the set’s attraction to City solicitors seeking to maximise their advocacy careers without conflict – as well as developing their arbitrator-only work. 

Joe Smouha QC and Huw Davies QC, Essex Court’s joint heads of chambers, said: “International arbitration and public international law have always formed an important part of the work of members of chambers, which fit with and support the enormous range of international litigation in which members of chambers are involved... Ben is a well-known and highly respected advocate and scholar who stands out for his expertise in a variety of fields.”

Juratowitch’s skills as an advocate are focused on three core areas – disputes between states, investor-state disputes and commercial arbitrations. It is his work for states and in public international law (PIL) that marks him out and justifies his move to the set.

His client base includes Slovenia, Belize and Chile, and acting for Italy in the infamous ‘Italian Marines’ case, which was heard before both the Permanent Court of Arbitration and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Of commercial interest is his investor-state dispute settlement practice, which has seen him represent Romania, African states like Kenya and South Africa, and investors. In contrast, his commercial arbitration practice spans all the recognised arbitral institutions and increasingly the English and Caribbean courts and international bodies like the International Court of Justice.

Essex Court’s senior clerk Joe Ferrigno said: “Taking on Ben provides chambers with an exceptional opportunity to grow our already well-established international disputes and PIL practices,” adding that Juratowitch is “a versatile practitioner with an excellent reputation and caseload who will no doubt contribute considerably to the breadth and depth of expertise offered to clients.”

Freshfields’ arbitration co-head Nigel Blackaby QC and Juratowitch’s incoming replacement as head of the firm’s PIL group Will Thomas QC, said Juratowitch played an essential role in developing Freshfields’ PIL team,  which they say maintains its ‘deep bench of experienced practitioners’ – boasting the highest concentration of solicitor silks in the Magic Circle. 

The Freshfields’ pair added: “Essex Court Chambers are fortunate to be joined by such an accomplished advocate, and we look forward to collaborating with Ben in his new role.”

Other PIL arrivals at Essex Court include Angeline Welsh and Juratowitch’s fellow 2017 silk Alison MacDonald QC, who joined from Matrix Chambers in January last year. MacDonald was one of the authors of a pro bono legal opinion on the treatment of China’s Uighur minority. 

That opinion, condemned by China as “lies and disinformation”, led to the set being sanctioned by the Chinese government – an action condemned by the UK government, the IBA and the four referral Bars of the UK and Ireland.

Essex Court subsequently saw three silks leave the set and the end of its relationship with former Singapore Group Practice Essex Court Duxton, whose members founded a new group, Duxton Hill Chambers.

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