Paul Key is recognised as one of the leading silks at the Commercial Bar, specializing in complex, cross-border and high-value disputes.
He wins praise from clients for combining strong analytical skills (“intellect of an Einstein”, “you bring him in when you have a case which needs a lot of the grey matter to be applied to it”, “incredibly bright and hard-working”, “incisive and insightful”, “supremely intelligent”) with powerful advocacy (“astonishingly good advocate”, “the go-to advocate for important cases”, “amazing ability to get the most difficult tribunal on his side”) and a teamwork ethic (“a definite inclusion when compiling a dream team for a case”, “approachable and responsive”, “seamlessly slots into the wider team and provides spot-on insights”, “a team player who is very switched-on, very good with clients, and user-friendly”).
As well as appearing as sole counsel in Courts and in arbitrations, Paul also acts as a member of larger teams in heavyweight disputes, including 14 separate cases in recent years valued at over US$1billion. In addition to acting for and against high net-worth individuals and companies, Paul regularly acts for and against States and State-entities (e.g. China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia, Singapore and the USA).
Paul’s litigation work has seen him win complex and very substantial cases for his clients at all levels of the English Court system, including the Supreme Court (“secured a huge victory for us in a very difficult case”, “superb courtroom advocate”, “having an extremely high-profile year”, “his knowledge of English law is phenomenal”, “clear, concise, confident and easy to work with”).
Paul has been widely recognized for his specialism in arbitration, both international commercial arbitration (including ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, SCC and ARIAS) and investment treaty arbitration (including ICSID). He has been ranked in the top-tier (band 1) rankings for arbitration for over 10 years and has consistently been identified as one of the leading figures in that field (“a real arbitration expert”, “few can rival his expertise, ability and knowledge in the field of investment arbitration”, “he has established an impressive case portfolio”, “the first port of call for important arbitration disputes”, “an arbitration guru”, “when working on a huge international arbitration, he seamlessly slots into the wider team and provides spot-on insights”). He has appeared as advocate in over 300 major international arbitrations worldwide, as well as appearing regularly before the English Courts (at all levels) and foreign Courts on arbitration matters. In addition to his extensive experience in international commercial arbitration, he is one of the very few English Silks to have real expertise in investment arbitration. He has been lead counsel in a very large number of BIT / investment arbitrations, acting both for and against States. He is Visiting Professor in international arbitration law at King’s College, London, and has lectured and published widely in this field. He has been a long-standing representative of the UK on the ILA International Commercial Arbitration Committee and is also a delegate for the
UNCITRAL Working Group on Arbitration. His practice spans a vast array of fields in international and domestic law, ncluding very substantial experience in each of the following subject-matter areas: foreign investment; international trade; civil fraud; energy; joint ventures; power and other large scale infrastructure projects; offshore disputes; oil & gas; telecommunications; shipping; agency and distribution(including commercial agency); conflict of laws; and public international law (largely in the investment context).
Prior to taking Silk, Paul won the Chambers & Partners Award for “International Arbitration Junior Barrister of the Year” and was also nominated for this award in commercial dispute resolution. Hewas recently nominated (as one of three) for Silk of the Year in Projects and Energy.
1997 to date Member of Essex Court Chambers
1994 – 1996 Litigation Solicitor, Herbert Smith, London
1993 – 1994 Commercial Barrister, New Zealand
1990 Commercial Barrister, New Zealand
In private practice as a Barrister since 1990, specialising in international and commercial, including international and commercial arbitration