Cross-Border Criminal Law Conference 2022: Individual and Corporate Accountability for International Crimes

13 May 2022

On Thursday 5 May, Kingsley Napley hosted the 4th annual Cross-Border Criminal Law Conference, which focused on individual and corporate accountability for international crimes.

We were delighted to welcome Philippe Sands QC, Professor of Law at UCL and barrister at Matrix Chambers, to open the conference as our keynote speaker and to hear him reflect on the significance of the 16-month legal battle that ensued in the House of Lords after the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

Philippe weaved together his personal experience of the case with other developments in international criminal law at that time – particularly the response to the war in former Yugoslavia and to the genocide in Rwanda - in support of his thesis that the Pinochet case was not a chance event but rather the culmination of a number of interconnected developments in international criminal law.

Moving to the present day and to the situation in Ukraine, he considered the response of the international community and speculated about what form any future justice mechanism might take, and what role the UK might play in that.

Panel discussion 1 | 20 years since the Pinochet case – the current state of universal jurisdiction in the UK – Chaired by Jonathan Grimes, Partner, Kingsley Napley


  • Philippe Sands QC, Matrix Chambers
  • Devika Hovell, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics
  • Émilie Pottle, Temple Garden Chambers
  • Michael Caplan QC, Kingsley Napley

Building on the key note, the first panel considered the current moment in international law and justice – tying the lessons learned from Pinochet back in 1998 to current events in Ukraine. What is the legacy of the Pinochet case with respect to how we prosecute war crimes and related offences in the UK; and what will the UK’s role be in the future of international criminal law?

Chaired by Jonathan Grimes, Partner in Kingsley Napley’s Criminal Litigation team, Philippe Sands joined our other delegates, Dr Devika Hovell, Michael Caplan QC, and Émilie Pottle to discuss these questions for the first panel session of the day.

Our panellists traced the history and the trajectory of the development of universal jurisdiction in the 20 years following the Pinochet case. Universal jurisdiction is defined as the exercise of jurisdiction over international crimes, even when the crimes did not occur on the prosecuting state’s territory, and neither the victim nor the perpetrator is a national of that state. Only a small number of such cases have been brought in the UK and the panel posited reasons for this, which included: the difficulty of bringing such cases in a common law jurisdiction; the limited resourcing made available to such cases in the UK; and the general lack of priority given to this area of criminal law in the UK.

The panel concluded by considering whether the current situation in the Ukraine has brought about any change of view by the UK as to its role and responsibility for supporting the fight against impunity for international crime.


Panel discussion 2 | Corporate complicity in human rights violations and international crimes – criminal liability, compliance and corporate communications – chaired by Katherine Tyler, Legal Counsel, Kingsley Napley


  • Kristin Rosella, Partner, Global Diligence LLP
  • Manel Chibane, Legal Program Manager, Clooney Foundation for Justice
  • Martin Cox, UKFIU, National Crime Agency

Joined by Kristin Rosella, Manel Chibane, and Martin Cox, Katherine Tyler, Legal Counsel in Kingsley Napley’s Criminal Litigation team, led the second panel of the day, shifting the focus on to corporate responsibility and complicity in international crimes.

The panel considered the reasons for the increased scrutiny of the activities of companies, particularly those operating abroad and in areas of conflict. Discussion focussed on three criminal cases involving international companies and their officers who are currently subject to criminal prosecution and/or investigation for their complicity in international crimes. Our panellists focussed on whether or not financing and providing financial services to those committing these crimes may be considered to amount to complicity under customary international law and the domestic law of the jurisdictions in which the prosecutions/investigations are taking place and considered what new developments these cases might bring. From the UK perspective panellists also considered the relevance of the suspicious activity report and the money laundering regime; in particular how businesses can share intelligence in relation to criminal conduct that might be linked to human rights violations and other serious criminal conduct.  

Further information

If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Jonathan Grimes or Katherine Tyler in our criminal litigation team.

We would like to thank all our speakers and attendees for making this year’s conference such a success. Thanks to Sameera Abdulrehman, Trainee Solicitor, for her preparation of this conference report.

Please save the date for our International Protection launch event on September 29: Global Threats and International Protection: Interpol, Asylum and Beyond.

About the authors

Jonathan Grimes has been a specialist criminal law adviser to individuals, companies, and other organisations for the past twenty years. His experience over that time has given him a broad and deep understanding of all areas relating to criminal law. His expertise is recognised by the market and reflected in the directories.

Katherine Tyler is a legal counsel in the criminal litigation team where she specialises in extradition and investigations with a cross-border element particularly those involving allegations of human rights abuses or environmental harm. Katherine leads on Business and Human Rights and is co-chair of the firm-wide group.


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