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Simon Olleson

Call 2002

Simon specialises in public international law, including providing advice and advocacy in relation to traditional inter-State disputes (including experience as counsel and advocate in multiple cases before the International Court of Justice, the international Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and before Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunals).

His practice also includes advising and acting in cases involving issues of State responsibility, treaty interpretation, investment protection disputes (including claims before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the PCA and under the UNICTRAL Rules), issues of international human rights law, issues of sovereign immunity, and disputes involving State succession, and the law of the sea (including maritime delimitation). In addition, he has experience of litigation before the English courts involving issues of public international law.

Simon has appeared as advocate before the International Court of Justice, as well as before arbitral tribunals operating under the auspices of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the PCA and ad hoc under the UNCITRAL Rules. He has also acted as secretary or clerk to the tribunal in a number of international investment protection disputes, as well as acting as clerk to the tribunal in a multi-million dollar international commercial arbitration in relation to a failed tourism infrastructure project.

In addition to his practice in investment treaty arbitrations, Simon also acts in international commercial arbitration matters (including arbitration applications before the English courts), and has significant experience of arbitral proceedings under the principal institutional arbitration rules (UNCITRAL, LCIA, SCC, and CIArb).

Simon also has experience in domestic practice, advising and providing advocacy in general chancery and commercial law, and has appeared in the High Court (including the Chancery Division, Queen’s Bench Division, Commercial Court and Mercantile Court),

Simon publishes regularly in the field of public international law, including contributing to the ‘International Relations Law’ title of Halsbury’s Laws of England (5th ed., 2010; vol. 61) (6th ed., 2018). He has also provided commentary for television on questions of international law, and has been invited to speak at academic conferences in, inter alia, the UK, Romania, Sweden, Germany and Ukraine.

In May 2009, at a ceremony in Bucharest hosted by the President of Romania, Simon was made Cavaler (Knight) of the Ordinul National “Serviciul Credincios” of Romania (National Order “Faithful Service”) in recognition of his work on behalf of Romania in the Case Concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine) before the International Court of Justice.

Simon is recommended as a Leading Junior (Band 2) for Public International Law in the UK Bar and Global editions of Chambers and Partners 2019 (where he is described as “very bright” and having “excellent knowledge of international law”), and by the 2019 edition of the Legal 500 (“One of the real authorities in the law of state responsibility”).

He has previously been consistently recommended in Chambers and Partners (since 2008) and in the Legal 500 (since 2016) where he has been described variously as “fantastic”, “extremely intelligent, astute and very practical”, as having “a fantastic academic background in PIL”; a “good all-round general international lawyer”; “a good BIT junior”; “clear and level-headed”, and “an excellent junior”.

  • What the directories say
    • Leading Junior Band 2, Public International Law
      “He is very bright and has excellent knowledge of international law”.
      “He has a strong academic background in PIL and a keen interest in the law of state responsibility.”
      Chambers & Partners UK & Global 2019
    • Leading Junior Band 3, Public International Law
      “One of the real authorities in the law of state responsibility and maritime delineation.”
      Legal 500 2019
    • Leading Junior Band 2, Public International Law
      Simon is described as having “a strong academic background in PIL”, and as having “shown himself to be an expert in maritime delimitation cases, BIT disputes and inter-state arbitration”. “He is a good BIT junior.” “He has a fantastic academic background in PIL.”
      Chambers & Partners UK & Global 2018
    • Leading Junior Band 2
      Described as "[v]ery erudite and hard-working", and being “very good at absorbing a lot of information quickly and turning things around efficiently."
      Chambers & Partners 2017
    • Leading Junior Band 3, Public International Law
      “A very good junior and international lawyer”.
      Legal 500 2017
    • Leading Junior Band 3
      Simon is described as having “a strong PIL practice spanning inter-state disputes, investment treaty arbitrations, Law of the Sea and state immunity issues”, and as being “superb at getting things done in a timely way and good with demanding clients”.
      Chambers & Partners UK 2016
    • Leading Junior Band 3, Public International Law
      Described as “[v]ery clever and very knowledgeable on public international law and the case law of the International Court of Justice”
      Legal 500 2016
    • Simon is described as “fantastic" , having “a practice that spans the full spectrum of the field” and an “in-depth understanding of matters concerning state responsibility”.
      “an experienced performer in international human rights and environmental law”.
      Chambers & Partners UK 2015
  • Cases of interest
    • Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates), International Court of Justice
      Acting for the United Arab Emirates in respect of Qatar’s claims of breach of the CERD, including appearing as counsel and advocate in relation to Qatar’s Application for Provisional Measures: see Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates), Provisional Measures, Order of 23 July 2018.
    • Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council under Article 84 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates v. Qatar) and Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council under Article II, Section 2, of the 1944 International Air Services Transit Agreement (Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates v. Qatar), International Court of Justice:
      Acting for the United Arab Emirates in parallel appeals to the International Court of Justice against decisions of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), by which the Council, whilst exercising judicial functions, rejected the respondent States’ objections to its competence to rule upon claims by Qatar of violation of the Chicago Convention and International Air Services Transit Agreement; acting for the United Arab Emirates in the underlying proceedings before the ICAO Council
    • Talal Al Awamleh, Arab Telemedia Services LLC and Ain Telemedia Studios LLC v. State of Qatar (ICSID No. ARB/18/38):
      Counsel for the claimant investors in claims under the Jordan-Qatar BIT
    • X v. Y (SCC Arbitration Rules)
      Sole counsel in an international commercial arbitration under the SCC Arbitration Rules, including issues of illegality resulting from the Claimant being subject to US sanctions
    • Acting for and advising the respondent State in one of the first claims brought under the inter-State complaints mechanism of a UN human rights treaty;
    • Acting for and advising the respondent State in relation to an inter-State claim brought pursuant to the arbitration mechanism of a UN specialised agency.
    • Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case 2013-29), Van Zyl and Others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2016/21) and associated proceedings
      Advising and representing the Kingdom of Lesotho in substantial, complex and multi-faceted proceedings involving multiple inter-connected arbitrations and associated litigation before the courts of Singapore:

    1)       Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2013/29) (UNCITRAL Rules)

      • Advising and acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Lesotho in respect of the proceedings on jurisdiction and the merits (see Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2013/29), Partial Final Award of 18 April 2016 (claims of, inter alia, breach of fair and equitable treatment as a result of Lesotho’s participation in the shuttering of the SADC Tribunal)
      • Advising and acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Lesotho in relation to substantial post-award proceedings, including an application for interpretation of the Award (Decision on Interpretation, 27 June 2016); and very substantial submissions (three rounds) as to costs (see Final Award on Costs, 20 October 2016).

    2)    Set-aside and other proceedings before the Singapore Courts

      • Advising the Kingdom of Lesotho in relation to proceedings before the Singapore courts, including
          • an application to set aside the award of the investment treaty tribunal in Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2013/29) on jurisdictional grounds , and a challenge to the Tribunal’s ruling as to costs on due process grounds.
            • Set-aside application successful before the Singapore High Court, with Partial Final Award being set aside in its entirety on jurisdictional grounds: Kingdom of Lesotho v. Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others [2017] SGHC 195 (14 August 2017).
            • Decision of the Singapore High Court upheld on appeal by the Singapore Court of Appeal: Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and Others v Kingdom of Lesotho [2018] SGCA 81 (27 November 2018) 
          • substantial related satellite litigation before the Singapore courts in relation to an attempt to enforce the PCA Tribunal’s Final Award on Costs; issues of State immunity and the appropriate method for service of process on a State: see [2017] SGHCR 02 (14 March 2017) and [2017] SGHC 104 (8 May 2017)

    3) Van Zyl and Others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2016/21) (UNCITRAL Rules))

      • Advising and acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Lesotho in relation to a Mauritius-seated “follow on” arbitration ordered by the Tribunal in Swissbourgh Diamond Mines (Pty) Ltd and others v. Kingdom of Lesotho (PCA Case No. 2013/29) concerning claims of alleged expropriation of diamond mining concessions, including as regards the impact on the Tribunal’s jurisdiction of the jurisdictional set-aside challenge before the Singapore Courts;
      • Proceedings stayed pending application for set-aside before the Singapore Courts; proceedings subsequently terminated following final decision of the Singapore Court of Appeal.
    • Maritime Delimitation in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Land Boundary in the Northern Part of Isla Portillos (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua), International Court of Justice
      Counsel for Costa Rica in joined disputes before the International Court of Justice concerning sovereignty over land territory and maritime delimitation (see judgment of 2 February 2018)
    • P (Polish company) v. D (Korean corporation) (LCIA Arbitration Rules)
      Sole counsel for the Claimant in an international commercial arbitration under the LCIA Arbitration Rules. Contractual claims in respect of the sale and supply by the Respondent on CIF terms of pre-painted galvanised steel sheets (PPGI) in rolls affected by latent defects, resulting in multiple claims brought against the Claimant by end-customers in various jurisdictions. Substantial damages and costs awarded.
    • State X v. State Y:
      Substantial advisory work as to the extent to which suspension of performance of treaty obligations may be justified as a countermeasure under customary international law (confidential).
    • Certain Activities in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua); Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica), Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 2015, p. 665 (judgment of 16 December 2015):
      Counsel for Costa Rica in joined disputes before the International Court of Justice concerning, inter alia, the military occupation of territory, the causing of environmental damage, and the obligation to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments
    • Railway Land Arbitration (Malaysia/Singapore) (PCA Case MY-SG 70514), Award of 30 October 2014:
      Junior Counsel for Malaysia (led by Professor James Crawford AC SC) in relation to a dispute relating to the interpretation of a bilateral treaty.
    • The “Arctic Sunrise” (Kingdom of the Netherlands v. Russian Federation) (Annex VII UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal, PCA-administered);
      Submission of an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Greenpeace International (with Professor Philippe Sands QC).
      Advising Greenpeace International in relation to the making of an application to the European Court of Human rights against the Russian Federation in respect of the arrest and detention of the crew and others on board the “Arctic Sunrise” (“the Arctic 30”).
    • The “Arctic Sunrise” (Kingdom of the Netherlands v. Russian Federation), Provisional Measures, Order of 22 November 2013 (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea)
      Submission of an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Greenpeace International (with Professor Philippe Sands QC).
    • Advising a provider of a leading international currency trading platform as to a potential claim against a State under an investment protection treaty for losses caused as a result of the conduct of a Central Bank; issues of jurisdiction, State succession.
    • Advising on the possibility of bringing a challenge under s. 67 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to the award of an arbitral tribunal operating under the UNCITRAL Rules as to its substantive jurisdiction under a bilateral investment treaty.
    • Deutsche Bank AG v. Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (ICSID Case ARB/09/2);
      Junior Counsel for the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in its Application for Annulment subsequently settled).
    • AES Corporation and Tau Power BV v. Republic of Kazakhstan (ICSID Case No. ARB/10/16), Award of 1 November 2013;
      Junior Counsel for the Respondent in its successful defence aginst claims totalling approximately US$1.3 bn under a BIT and the ECT in relation to an investment in the electricity generation sector.
    • ECE Projektmanagment International GmbH and another v. Czech Republic (PCA Case No. 2010-5):
    • Assistant/Secretary to the Tribunal in PCA-administered arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules concerning claims of breach of a bilateral investment treaty in relation to a property development project.
    • Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia), International Court of Justice
      Junior Counsel for Colombia in a dispute before the International Court of Justice involving claims of violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, and breaches of international environmental and human rights law (subsequently settled).
    • Deutsche Bank AG v. Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (ICSID Case No. ARB/09/2), Award of 31 October 2012;
      Junior Counsel for the Respondent in relation to claims by an investor of wrongful interference by the State with a hedging contract entered into by a State-owned oil company.
    • Republic of Croatia v. Republic of Serbia [2009] EWHC 1559 (Ch.); [2010] Ch. 200, [2010] 2 WLR 555, [2010] 1 P. & C.R. 5, [2009] All ER (D) 30 (Jul) (Briggs J, 2 July 2009);
      Junior counsel for Croatia in a successful appeal against a decision of the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry refusing entry of a restriction under the Land Registration Act 2002 against title to property registered in the name of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; issues of State succession and non-justiciability.
    • Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine), ICJ Reports 2009, p. 61 (judgment of 3 February 2009);
      Junior counsel and advocate for Romania before the International Court of Justice in its dispute with Ukraine relating to the delimitation of their respective Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves.
  • Education

    B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Cantab); LL.M. (NYU); Dip. Int. Law. (Cantab)

  • Languages

    Italian (fluent); French (fluent); German (basic)

  • Publications

    Selected publications:

    • “The Character and Forms of International Responsibility”, in M.D. Evans (ed.), International Law (5th ed.) (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018) (with J. Crawford); also previously 4th ed. (2014); and 1st ed. (2003); 2nd ed. (2006); and 3rd ed. (2010) (as “The Nature and Forms of International Responsibility”)

    • Contributor of the parts on “International Responsibility” and “Diplomatic Protection and Consular Assistance” to the International Relations title of Halsbury’s Laws of England (6th ed.) (2018); previously also contributor to the 5th ed., (Lexis-Nexis, London, 2010)

    • “Attribution in Investment Treaty Arbitration” (2016) 31(2) ICSID Review – Foreign Investment Law Journal pp. 457-483

    • “Chapter 5: International Investment Agreements and the General Body of Rules of Public International Law; Section III: The Application of the Rules of State Responsibility”, in M. Bungenberg, J. Griebel, S. Hobe and A. Reinisch (eds) International Investment Law: A Handbook (Nomos/Beck/Hart Publishing, 2015), pp. 411-441 (with J. Crawford)

    • “A Summary Assessment of the 1950 Advisory Opinions of the International Court of Justice on Interpretation of Peace Treaties with Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania“, in B. Aurescu (ed.) Romania and the International Court of Justice (Editura Hamangiu, Bucharest, 2014), pp. 102-133

    • “Internationally Wrongful Acts in the Domestic Courts: The Contribution of Domestic Courts to the Development of Customary International Law Relating to the Engagement of International Responsibility”, (2013) vol. 26(3) Leiden Journal of International Law, pp. 615-642

    • “Article 8: Effect of Participation in a Proceeding Before a Court”, in C.J. Tams and R. O’Keefe (eds), The United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property: A Commentary (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013), pp. 124-136 (with S. Borelli)

    • “Article 9: Counterclaims”, in C.J. Tams and R. O’Keefe (eds), The United Nations Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property: A Commentary (Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013), pp. 137-151 (with S. Borelli)

    • Co-editor (with J. Crawford and A. Pellet), The Law of International Responsibility (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010)

    • “Countermeasures: Obligations Relating to Human Rights and Humanitarian Law” in J. Crawford, A. Pellet and S. Olleson (eds.) The Law of International Responsibility (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010) (with S. Borelli)

    • Contributing editor for entries relating to public international law to D. Greenberg (ed.) Jowitt’s Dictionary of English Law (Sweet & Maxwell, London, 2010)

    • “A Summary Assessment of the ICJ Judgment of 3 February 2009 in the Case Concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine)”, (2009) vol. 8 Revista Română de Drept Internaţional [Romanian Journal of International Law], p. 104 (with J. Crawford, V. Lowe, A. Pellet, and D. Müller)

    • “The Continuing Debate on a UN Convention on State Responsibility”, (2005) vol. 54 International and Comparative Law Quarterly, p. 959 (with J. Crawford)

  • Memberships

    • Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (CIArb)

    • Member, European Society of International Law (ESIL)

    • Member, American Society of International Law (ASIL); member of the organizing committee for the 111th Annual Meeting (2017)

    • Member, British Branch of the International Law Association (ILA)

    • Member, ILA, and member of the ILA’s Committee on Baselines under the International Law of the Sea

    • Member of the Editorial Board, Journal of International Dispute Settlement

    • Member of the drafting group for the SHARES ‘Commentaries on the Law of International Responsibility’ project (Amsterdam Centre for International Law (UvA)).

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