Advice on Sanctions, Embargoes and Trade Restrictions

One of the most interesting areas of work which we undertake is in the giving of advice about trade restrictions, sanctions and embargoes to firms in the UK and overseas. UK firms ask for advice about navigating the control lists, the Export Control Act 2002 and the associated Export Control Order 2008, especially schedules 3 and 4 (dual use and countries and designations subject to stricter export and trade controls).

Our overseas instructions are often concerned with export and re-exports to areas of the world subject to sanctions, whether certain goods breach those restrictions and what liabilities may occur if manufacturers' goods find their way into restricted areas. The recent increase in cargo inspections at certain key ports and tighter rules on transactions with banks from territories subject to renewed sanctions have caused many more firms to pay closer attention to the instruments that purport to give power to inspections and licensers; a number of export firms are suffering huge losses and want advice about how to stay on the right side of export controls whilst maintaining as much trade as permissible. Our asset freezing knowledge has also helped companies and individuals who have had their accounts frozen pursuant to UN resolutions.

We can offer advice to UK and foreign companies because of our direct access license our ability to accept instructions form overseas clients. See here and here.

Direct Access

Members of the public, commercial and non-commercial organisations are now able to instruct barristers directly on most matters.

What are the advantages of instructing a barrister rather than a solicitor?

The short answer is: expertise and efficiency. We are at the forefront of the litigation exercise. Law, procedure, tactical considerations and instinct are second nature: we are tasked with presenting the case if and when it comes before a Court and know how best to prepare it in order to succeed.

There is likely to be efficiency savings too. Barristers’ hourly rates are generally less than a solicitor of comparable experience. This is because barristers are independent and don’t have the same level of overheads as a solicitors’ firm.

Often when you instruct a solicitor on a particular matter you enter an open-ended retainer. The solicitor will do all the work that is necessary on the case and charge accordingly, usually on a time basis. Under the public access scheme you can instruct a barrister to act in relation to a specified step in the process – for example to advise in conference or represent you at a hearing. You pay a fee only for the work requested and agreed between you and the barrister’s clerk, in advance.

A further advantage is speed. If you need an opinion urgently it can be quicker to go directly to a barrister than through a Solicitor.

Overseas Clients: Instructing a Barrister

Overseas clients who want to know more about instructing a Barrister often remark that there is a lack of information simply setting out the basic principles. The Bar Council's guidance is very useful. We have set it out below:

"...The Bar is a profession of independent legal experts who usually practise collectively from offices known as chambers. For domestic work barristers of England and Wales are normally required to receive instructions through solicitors on a referral basis, but they are able to receive direct instructions from lawyers, businesses or individuals based outside the UK. 

The barrister can offer the following services to international clients based abroad on a direct access basis:

  • Specialist advice on all areas of the law in England and Wales, European Community and International Law, including Human Rights law;
  • Specialist advice and assistance on the drafting, interpretation and enforceability of contracts governed by the law in England and Wales, or the laws of other common law countries;
  • Specialist advice on commercial situations presenting legal, factual or technical difficulties;
  • Arbitration services in England & Wales and in most other jurisdictions (the English Bar is one of the leading professions in the field of international arbitration);
  • Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution services (as mediators, advocates or advisers);
  • Expert witness services;
  • Specialist advocacy services before European and international courts and tribunals;
  • Specialist advice and assistance in the preparation of litigation or in a non-litigious context..."

"A Brief Guide to Using a Barrister", available in English (PDF), Mandarin (PDF) and Arabic (PDF).

The Bar Guide.  This is an annual brochure produced in co-operation with the American Lawyer Magazine, which explains in some more detail the advantages for foreign clients of working with barristers.  It also contains a concise guide to instructing a barrister.

It is no doubt easier to discuss any aspect of instructing one of our Barristers by speaking directly to our practice managers. Martin Adams ( is highly experienced in dealing with clients from outside the UK, what's required and how it works. At any one time, one or more members of chambers is appearing or advising in on overseas litigation. We are entitled to appear in Courts all around the world and we believe that the skills of a UK Barrister provide a clear competitive advantage in any legal dispute.

[We are listed under the UAE Legal Services category on the UAE & Dubai Directory]