Matrix Chambers founding member Philippe Sands KC quits for 11 King’s Bench Walk

Move follows exit of junior barrister Andrew Smith from Matrix to 11KBW earlier this year
A photo of Inner Temple Hall in London

Temple, London – home of 11 King's Bench Walk Shutterstock

Matrix Chambers founding member Philippe Sands KC has left the set to join leading commercial, employment and public law specialists 11 King’s Bench Walk (11KBW).

Sands is experienced in public international law, international environmental law and investment treaty cases, while as an arbitrator he advises governments, international organisations, corporations and individuals on public international law. He has appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the WTO, commercial arbitrations and maritime boundary delimitation disputes.

He is best known for his ICJ work, appearing in more than a dozen cases. His previous cases include Hungary v Slovakia, Croatia v Former Republic of Yugoslavia and Nicaragua v Honduras.

Sands also sits as an arbitrator in investor-state disputes at ICSID and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He also acts as counsel in international law disputes, including the long-running Chagos Islands litigation, where he appeared for Mauritius, with 11KBW representing the UK.

Sands’ exit from Matrix ends a more than 20-year relationship with the set, which started in 2000, before taking silk in 2003. His arrival at 11KBW adds heft at silk level and will significantly boost its reputation and extend the set’s reach. A senior source within the set called it “a huge coup which adds to our growing strength, following some incredible lateral arrivals across the last 18 months.”

Sands is the second lawyer to join 11KBW from Matrix this year, with commercial, sports and employment junior Andrew Smith joining in May. That followed the arrivals in June last year of John Bethell from Twenty Essex, Jamie Susskind from Littleton Chambers and Ruth Kennedy – Sands’ former research assistant – from 2 Temple Gardens. Both Bethell and Kennedy have public international law experience, alongside established juniors like Amy Rogers and Stephen Kosmin.

Sands said 11KBW showed "a serious commitment to further developing its profile in my fields of public international law and international sports arbitration," adding he was "thrilled to be teaming up with some esteemed junior colleagues with whom I have worked so closely for many years.”

Daniel Stilitz KC, joint head of chambers at 11KBW, said Sands was "a renowned leader in international law and a very welcome addition" to the set.

Sands’ departure leaves Matrix with recognised silks like Zachary Douglas KC and juniors like Edward Craven, among others, but Sands’ exit is a significant one. Since the start of 2019, Matrix has lost Ben Emmerson – who joined Monckton Chambers, before later jumping ship to King & Spalding – and 2017 silk Alison MacDonald to Essex Court Chambers. Like Sands, James Crawford SC also helped found the set; he left Matrix to become a judge at the ICJ in 2015. Crawford, a highly respected Australian jurist, died in 2021

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