Stephen Donnelly

Year of Call
Devil Masters
Morag Ross Q.C.
Shelagh McCall Q.C.

Contact 0207 147 7390 Check Faculty diary

Practice Profile

Stephen practises across a wide spectrum of company and commercial litigation (including commercial employment) and judicial review. He works as part of a team in larger cases and has appeared as sole counsel in the Inner and Outer Houses and in arbitration. He also advises clients in both contentious and non-contentious matters in all areas of his practice.

His recent work includes substantial litigation in the Commercial Court, judicial reviews, and appearing on behalf of the successful reclaimer in Sundolitt v Addison [2017] CSIH 15, the leading Scots authority on the enforceability of post-employment obligations in restraint of trade. He is also currently instructed in relation to proceedings before the International Court of Justice.

Stephen is dual-qualified as a barrister in England and Wales and maintains an active practice from Essex Court Chambers, a leading commercial set. Many of his cases have a cross-border element.

Before coming to the bar, Stephen spent a year as judicial assistant to Lord Kerr in the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, where he worked on a number of leading public law, human rights, and equality cases.

He studied law at Glasgow, Oxford, and Yale (as a Fulbright scholar) and has taught public law at the University of Edinburgh and University College London. He has published on human rights, is an assistant editor of the European Human Rights Reports, and was on the editorial board of the Yale Journal of International Law.

Education & Professional Career to Date

(2016- now) Barrister, Essex Court Chambers
(2015- now) Advocate
(2013-14) Judicial assistant to Lord Kerr, Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
(2009-11) Trainee solicitor, Simpson & Marwick (now Clyde & Co)
(2009) Intern, Gulf Region Advocacy Center, Houston, Texas

(2012-13) LL.M., Yale Law School
(2011-12) B.C.L., Lincoln College, Oxford
(2009-11) M.Sc. (philosophy), University of Edinburgh
(2008-09) Dip.L.P., Glasgow Graduate School of Law
(2004-08) LL.B., University of Glasgow

(2014-15) Lord Reid and Faculty of Advocates scholarships
(2012-13) Fullbright scholar
(2012) Shearman & Sterling mooting trophy, University of Oxford
(2011) Runner-up, Times Law Awards
(2008) Dean's Cup, University of Glasgow
(2008) Semple Mooting Prize, University of Glasgow


  • Assistant editor, European Human Rights Reports (2018–present)
  • Tutor in international & public law, University of Edinburgh (2014–2015)
  • Teaching fellow in public law, University College London (2013–2014)
  • Tutor in international law, King's College London (2013–2014)
  • Editorial board, Yale Journal of International Law (2012–2013)

Selected Cases

  • Sundolitt v Addison [2017] CSIH 15

    Appeared as sole counsel in the Inner House for the successful reclaimer in the leading Scots case on the scope of obligations in restraint of trade

  • Colstoun Trust v Scottish Minsters

    Court of Session action for just satisfaction for losses arising from the enactment by the Scottish Parliament of legislation found to be in breach of article 1 of Protocol 1

  • Milne v Smith

    Court of Session action for defamation brought by an individual and related corporate entity arising out of posts on Facebook

  • —Instructed by the FCA in matters of contemplated regulatory action

  • —Advising a regulatory body on the jurisdictional scope of its amenability to judicial review on both common law and Convention grounds in a cross-border context

  • Instructed in relation to a case before the International Court of Justice concerning a boundary dispute

  • —Before coming to the bar, spent a year as judicial assistant to Lord Kerr in the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, working on a number of leading public law, human rights, and equality cases including R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice [2015] AC 657, Bull v Hall [2013] 1 WLR 3741, and (Lord Carlile of Berriew QC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] AC 495

  • (Courts of England & Wales) Yukos v Merinson, Court of Appeal, on appeal from [2018] 2 WLR 1541

    Fraud claim in the Commercial Court raising issues of jurisdiction, conflict of laws, and the effect of foreign court settlements

  • (Courts of England & Wales) Latin American Investments Ltd v Maroil Trading Inc. [2017] EWHC 1254 (Comm)

    Commercial Court claims for breach of fiduciary duty and secret profits, with applications for freezing relief

  • (Courts of England & Wales) Erdenet Mining Corp. LLC v ICBC Standard Bank plc [2017] 2 Lloyd's Rep 25

    LCIA arbitration and Commercial Court proceedings arising out of an Asian banking fraud, including a successful application under section 70(7) of the Arbitration Act 1996 for security for the amount payable under two arbitral awards

  • (England & Wales) Hellas II

    Trial in the Chancery Division of a claim under section 423 of the Insolvency Act arising from the multi-billion-euro refinancing of a Greek telecoms company

Publications & Seminars

'No consensus on consensus', 33 HRLJ 248-263 (with Luzius Wildhaber, former President of the European Court of Human Rights, analysing the role of consensus among states in developing Convention obligations.

Additional Information

Fluent in French
Working knowledge of several other languages