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Richard Hermer’s practice spans public and private law litigation within both the domestic and international spheres.  He has been instructed in many of the most high profile cases heard by the English Courts over the past decade.  He was called to the Bar in 1993 and took silk in 2009.  He is recognised in the major legal directories as a leading practitioner in all his practice areas.  Richard is featured in The Lawyer Hot 100 for 2016 and two of his cases are included in the “Top 20 cases to watch for 2016”.  

Public International Law

Richard’s public international law cases include issues of State Immunity such as the leading case of Jones v Saudi Arabia (House of Lords, April 2006), the extra-territorial application of domestic legislation overseas such as Al Skeini v Secretary of State for Defence (House of Lords, April 2007), the interrelationship between domestic law and international law, including the law of the United Nations, for example Jedda v Secretary of State for Defence (House of Lords, October 2007) and Al Waheed v Secretary of State for Defence (Supreme Court, February 2016), the interrelationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law, for example Serdar Mohammed v Secretary of State for Defence (Supreme Court listed October 2016), claims concerning liability for extraordinary rendition and the Act of State Doctrine for example Belhadj & Others v Jack Straw & Others (Supreme Court,November 2015) and the legality of the UN financial sanctions regime for example Ahmed v HM Treasury (Supreme Court, October 2009).

Richard regularly advises on a wide range of PIL issues including international human rights law and international humanitarian law and lectures extensively both in the UK and internationally.

Private International Law 

Over the past decade Richard has appeared in almost all the high profile private international law claims brought by foreign claimants in the English courts against multinational corporations for human rights abuses or widespread environmental damage. His cases include the ‘Trafigura Litigation’, one of the largest group actions in ever brought in England; Bodo Community v Shell a £55million settlement for environmental damage caused by pollution in the Niger Delta; Tabra v Monterrico, a claim brought against a UK domiciled mining company by Peruvian environmental protestors for torture and Strudhadar v NERC a claim concerning water contamination in Bangladesh (House of Lords, July 2006). His current case load includes cases from Nigeria, Zambia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Peru and Colombia.

Richard has also appeared in a significant number of private international law claims against government.  These include: the ‘Mau Mau’ litigation which led to the settlement of over 3,000 claims brought by individuals mistreated by the Colonial regime in Kenya; the Guantanamo Bay litigation brought by UK citizens and residents held in Cuba including Al Rawi v Security Services (Supreme Court, January 2011); and multiple claims brought against the Ministry of Defence for mistreatment of civilians in Iraq, including on behalf of the family of Baha Mousa.

Domestic Public Law and Private Law

Richard’s domestic practice is evenly split between public law and private law including high profile claims against public authorities and private bodies.  He has considerable experience of Group Litigation for example acting for military veterans subject to medical experiments at Porton Down and on behalf of children unlawfully held in immigration detention centres.

Private law claims include a successful challenge on behalf of injured servicemen to the principle of combat immunity Smith v Ministry of Defence (Supreme Court, February 2013), a claim on behalf of Derek Bentley (sentenced to death and posthumously pardoned), the fatal police shooting of James Ashley (House of Lords, February 2008) and representation of the family of Victoria Climbie.

Recent public law claims include a challenge to the Governments Legal Aid changes (PLP v Lord Chancellor listed before the Court of Appeal in March 2016), a successful challenge to the policy of restraining children in detention (C v Secretary of State for Justice argued before the Court of Appeal in July 2008) and a challenge to the prosecution of asylum applicants (SXH v Crown Prosecution Service listed before the Supreme Court in July 2016).  Richard has also appeared in a number of cases concerning the scope of the State’s obligations to vulnerable people under the Human Rights Act, for example Van Colle v Chief Constable of Herfordshire (House of Lords, July 2008) and Savage v South Essex NHS Partnership (House of Lords, December 2008)

Richard accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.


“Sharp, strategic, reliable and a pleasure to work with”; “continues to consistently impress market sources”; “creative and strategic thinker”; “admired for pushing the boundaries in human rights and personal injury law”; “fantastic – one of the most thoughtful and creative lawyers handling public law and is known for his excellent tactical sense”; “long been a force to be reckoned with in the field of international human rights law”.
(Chambers & Partners 2012)

“Exceptionally able and dynamic”; “successful in a wide range of disciplines”; “outstanding lawyer”; “celebrated in the fields of police law, civil liberties and international public law”; “clear, concise, analytical style”; “well respected for his expertise in international human rights matters and the application of international law in domestic courts”.
(Chambers & Partners 2011)

“Fantastic advocate with an amazing legal brain”; “phenomenally bright and great on his feet”; “this talented young silk maintains a consistently impressive reputation for work across the field”; “immensely knowledgeable and very strategic in his thinking”; “a strategic litigator dedicated to the pursuit of justice”.
(Chambers & Partners 2010)