Brick Court Chambers

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Maya Lester QC

YEAR OF CALL: 2000    YEAR OF SILK: 2016

"A first-class barrister who is highly responsive and authoritative, and who has an unsurpassed knowledge of the law… She offers wise and measured counsel, drafts beautifully and is great on her feet"
Chambers & Partners 2018

Maya Lester QC has a wide ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, and human rights.  She regularly appears in leading cases in the courts and tribunals of England, Luxembourg and Strasbourg.  She is ranked a leading silk in 6 practice areas by the legal directories and as a 'Thought Leader' for Brexit by Who's Who Legal 2018, & regularly advises on the emerging legislative framework for Brexit. 

Maya has a particular expertise in the law relating to economic sanctions.  As the directories put it, she is “Queen of the Sanctions Bar without a doubt” and "owns the world of sanctions". She founded and co-writes the sanctions law blog europeansanctions.com, with nearly 6000 followers around the world.  She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, VTB, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL. In 2018 Maya was named Practitioner of the Year in the World Export Controls Review Awards. 

Maya’s most significant cases include R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State (the Chagos Islands judicial reviews in the UK and ECHR), Wightman (ECJ reference on whether the Brexit trigger in Article 50 TFEU is revocable), Enron v EWS (the first very follow-on competition damages trial in the UK, and several subsequent follow-ons), R v Goldshield (prosecuting cartels as conspiracy to defraud), the Shambo judicial review (on bovine TB), and the Rahmatullah litigation.  She has appeared in numerous judicial reviews of regulatory decisions (eg Cityhook, UniChem), competition appeals (including on LIBOR, Pay TV, horseracing, dairy, and construction recruitment) and damages actions (including Enron and National Grid). She has appeared in ICSID & UNCITRAL arbitrations and many major references to the European Court of Justice.

Maya was a founder of the Human Rights Lawyers Association and undertakes regular pro bono and public interest work. There is a strong US and international element to her practice; she spent three years as a Visiting Scholar & Master of Studies in Law at Yale and Columbia Law Schools.  She is a regular speaker for the American Society for International Law, Chatham House, JUSTIS, Public Law Project, Hart, ALBA, the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting, BIICL, International Bar Association, Bar European Group and World ECR.

Expand All
  • Public Law M

    In her public and administrative law practice, Maya Lester QC appears for and advises individuals, companies, government departments, regulators and public interest groups, and regularly appears in judicial reviews.  She is a regular speaker at the main public law conferences (ALBA, Hart, Justice, Public Law Project).  Maya has advised on and acted in cases involving numerous public bodies and regulators including the OFT / CMA, Ofwat, Ofcom, the Law Society, National Farmers Union, Renewable Energy Assurance Limited, British Medical Association, British Dental Association, Advertising Standards Authority, Press Distribution Forum.

    Her leading public law cases include: Rahmatullah (human rights damages for alleged abuse in Afghanistan & Iraq); Bancoult (the Chagos Islands litigation, in the UK courts & ECHR); Walker v Innospec (equal treatment in civil partners’ pensions); International Sikh Youth Federation (proscribed terrorist organisations); the leading case on freedom of political expression R (Prolife Alliance) v BBC; the Shambo case (R (Community for the Many Names of God) v Welsh Assembly Government (CA)); R (Bingham) v Governor of the Falkland Islands; London Metropolitan University v UK Border Agency; Duncombe v Secretary of State for Education; R (Crystal Windows & Doors) v OFT & Real Energy Assurance; R (Law Society) v Legal Services Commission (procurement of family legal aid); R (Hernadi) v National Crime Agency (European Arrest Warrants);  R (British Medical Association) v Secretary of State for Health (GPs' pensions); R (Wildman) v Ofcom (broadcast licences); R (Buxton) v Advertising Standards Authority) (ASA adjudication); R (Ealing) v Audit Commission (CSCI reports); and R (Adusei) v Council of the Inns of Court (decision of the Visitors).

    Maya has appeared in a number of cases concerning the regulation of gambling and sports, including R (British Casino Association) v Secretary of State (casino licences) and R (Poker Clubs Association) v Secretary of State.  And in judicial reviews of UK government decisions on sanctions: R (Azizi v Sedghi) v Secretary of State for FCO; R (Sarkandi & Ors) v FCO (involving closed material procedures under the Justice & Security Act), and competition judicial reviews: John Lewis v OFT (extended warranties); Association of Convenience Stores v OFT (press distribution); (R (UniChem) v OFT; R (Celesio) v OFT); R (Cityhook) v OFT; R (Sports Direct) v Competition Commission.

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2019: "Gives really proactive advice and knows the crossover of human rights and EU law extremely well." " So bright and focused, she gets to the key point in minutes." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2018: "She is diligent, hard-working and able." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2017: "Able to turn out high-quality work in a limited time. Her brain works at a different speed. She is delightfully modest and easy to work with and has a total grasp of the law." "She is really good with clients, gives measured, considered advice, and comes across as the voice of reason in court." (Administrative & Public Law)

    Legal 500

    2018-19: ‘She has an outstanding intellect and drafting skills that are unique and exceptional.’

    2017: ‘Collaborative, efficient and clear-eyed in her judgement.’ (Administrative and Public Law)

    2016: ‘The voice of reason in court.’ (Administrative and Public Law)

    2015: ‘Provides opinions, pleadings and oral advocacy of the highest calibre.’ (Administrative and Public Law, Tier 1)

  • EU law M

    Maya Lester QC has extensive experience in all areas of European Union law, including in relation to sanctions, competition law, free movement, EU fundamental rights, actions for annulment in the General Court, and references to the Court of Justice. Maya appears in Luxembourg several times a year, and is a member of the Bar Council EU Law Committee.  She is currently appearing in Wightman, the ECJ reference about the revocability of Article 50 TFEU (the Brexit trigger), and recently arguing the EU legal points in the Bancoult Chagos Islands litigation.

    References to the European Court of Justice

    Maya’s references to the Court of Justice include Wightman (revocability of Brexit Article 50); AY (double jeopardy & European Arrest Warrants); R (Milk Marque) v MMC (Common Agricultural Policy and competition law); R (Swedish Match) v Secretary of State for Health (ban on oral tobacco); Den Dover v European Parliament (MEPs’ expenses).

    EU sports and broadcast rights

    Maya appeared for the European Commission on the listing of the World Cup and FIFA Championship under the Television Without Frontiers Directive (UEFA v Commission and FIFA v Commission); for the British Horseracing Board in the leading case on the collective sale of sports rights in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (Racecourse Association and British Horseracing Board v OFT) and for the Premier League in the Sky Sports challenge (BSkyB and Premier League v Ofcom).

    Annulment actions in the General Court

    Maya’s General Court annulment actions include: JP Morgan v Commission (LIBOR); Korea National Insurance Company & Ors (DPRK); DenizBank, Sberbank, VTB, Rotenberg (Russia); Kadi (No. 2) (terrorist asset freeze); Tay Za (Burma/Myanmar); IRISL, Ocean Administration, Elegant Target, Good Luck Shipping, Nabipour, Azizi & Sedghi, Ministry for Energy, National Iranian Tanker Company, Central Bank of Iran, Iran Aluminium Company (Iran); El Materi (Tunisia); Al Tabbaa & Al Asaad (Syria); El Maghraby & Gazaerly (Egypt); Rautenbach & Tomana (Zimbabwe).

    Public Procurement

    Maya’s EU procurement cases include: R (Law Society) v Legal Services Commission); Apcoa v Westminster City Council; Vale of Glamorgan; Stage Technologies v Royal Shakespeare Company.

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2019: "Lester is very good to work with and manages matters very well." (European Law)

    2018: "She knows EU law inside out and can translate the process well for clients. She is able to take the commercial views of the client on board while remaining sensitive to the expectations of the court." (European Law)

    2017: "She is happy to answer queries at all hours and really knows her stuff." (European Law)

    2016: "She is fantastic, incredibly committed to her work and leaves no stone unturned. In addition, her drafting skills are second to none. I've never met anyone who could draft as well as her in any legal context. She is able to distil arguments on all sorts of legal issues from international law to European law and synthesise them in a way which is brilliant." (European Law)

    Legal 500

    2018-19: "Exceptionally talented, and has an uncanny ability to immediately identify the key to a complex issue." (EU Law)

    2017: ‘The voice of reason in court, a superb drafter and a precise advocate.’ (EU Law)

    2016: ‘She fully deserved silk, and is a top-drawer advocate and adviser.’ (EU & Competition)

    2015: ‘Her drafting skills are excellent and unique.’ (EU & Competition)

  • Public international law M

    Maya’s public international cases include Kadi (the leading case on the relationship between international and EU law and on JR of UN Security Council resolutions), the Chagos Islands litigation (on the international law principles of self-determination, the right of abode & treaty obligations to overseas territories), and Rahmatullah v Ministry of Defence & FCO (claims of torture & mistreatment in Iraq & Afghanistan).  She is currently also appearing in a preliminary reference to the ECJ from the Croatian courts about the circumstances in which EU member states must or may execute European arrest warrants giving rise to double jeopardy concerns (AY), Croatia v MOL (ICSID & UNCITRAL arbitrations), and major Cayman Islands litigation involving Libyan & Cayman law.

    Before she took silk in 2016, Maya was one of only 5 members of the Attorney General’s PIL A panel, the most senior panel for the Government’s PIL work, and a standing adviser on PIL issues relating to Gibraltar.  She taught international law seminars at Columbia Law School, was on the prestigious Programming Committee of the American Society for International Law, and a Henry Fellow giving seminars to the US State Department on international law.

    Notable cases include:

    AY - Maya Lester QC acts (as leader) for AY in this preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice from the Croatian courts. The case raises novel and important points about the circumstances in which EU member states must or may execute European arrest warrants giving rise to double jeopardy (ne bis in idem) concerns. The PIL issues that have arisen so far in multiple jurisdictions concern the circumstances in which States should decline to enforce international arrest warrants on double jeopardy grounds, & the interaction between Croatian and Hungarian criminal proceedings and EU questions for preliminary reference on ne bis in idem.

    Rahmatullah v Ministry of Defence & FCO – Maya is currently instructed (pro bono) for the claimant in this high profile PIL challenge to Mr Rahmatullah’s detention and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has already been to the Supreme Court twice. She led the team in March 2017 opposing a closed material procedure under the Justice & Security Act. Complex PIL issues in the case include the extra-territoriality of the ECHR, the doctrine of crown act of state, and the applicability of Iraqi & Afghan law.

    Palladyne International Asset Management BV v Upper Brook & Ors - Maya is currently instructed for the claimants in this major PIL litigation in the Cayman Islands courts.  She has constructed & is running the novel PIL argument that dismissing directors of investment funds (owned by the Libyan Investment Authority) was a breach of the Cayman Islands’ implementation of United Nations prohibitions on dealing with Libyan funds. The case raises complex issues of the interaction between Libyan, Cayman & Dutch law.

    Republic of Croatia v MOL - Maya was instructed in two multi-million dollar international arbitrations to argue a novel and important PIL law point in the ICSID and UNCITRAL arbitral tribunals (unled) in Washington DC, the Hague and Zurich.  The PIL issue is whether it is contrary to international treaties on mutual legal assistance for States to use material gathered pursuant to MLA powers in an international arbitration in another country.

    R (Bancoult) v Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Maya led the team for the Chagossians to argue a novel point of PIL in this JR of the FCO’s decision to impose a Marine Protection Zone around the Chagos Islands in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal. The PIL point concerned members states’ international obligations to their overseas territories (including BIOT). Maya acted for the Chagossians in their high profile JR that went to the House of Lords and (pro bono) application to the ECHR. She was led by David Anderson QC in Strasbourg, and Sir Sydney Kentridge QC when the case went to the House of Lords.

    Directory Quotes

    Legal 500

    2018-19: ‘Innovative and creative in thought, and the leading barrister on the issue of sanctions.’ (Public International Law)

    2017: ‘Her drafting skills are exceptional and she is extremely persuasive in court.’ (Public International Law)

    2016: ‘Efficient, effective and undaunted by unknowns.’ (Public International Law)

    2015: ‘Her oral advocacy is of the highest calibre, displaying meticulous preparation and captivating delivery.’ (Public International Law)

  • Sanctions M

    European sanctions

    Maya Lester QC has a particular expertise in the law relating to economic sanctions, both litigation and advisory.  As the directories put it, she is “Queen of the Sanctions Bar without a doubt” and "owns the world of sanctions". She founded and co-writes the sanctions law blog europeansanctions.com, with nearly 6000 followers around the world.  She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, VTB, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL. In 2018 Maya was named Practitioner of the Year in the World Export Controls Review Awards, and is a very regular speaker at sanctions conferences. 

    Maya advises on all aspects of sanctions law and across all regimes, including the JCPOA and EU Blocking Regulation, de-listings, sanctions investigations, litigation and judicial review, the implications of US secondary sanctions, approaches to regulators (reporting obligations and licensing), the Sanctions & Anti Money Laundering Act 2018 and Magnitsky sanctions.  She has given evidence to a number of parliamentary committees, including the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee on the legality of EU sanctions here, the House of Lords  EU External Affairs Sub-Committee on post-Brexit sanctions policy (here and transcript here) and the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs' review of Canda's sanctions regime here.

    Maya’s cases in the EU and UK courts include: Korea National Insurance Company & Ors (DPRK); DenizBank, Sberbank, VTB, Rotenberg (Russia); Kadi (No. 2) (terrorist asset freeze); Tay Za (Burma/Myanmar); IRISL, Ocean Administration, Elegant Target, Good Luck Shipping, Nabipour, Azizi & Sedghi, Ministry for Energy, National Iranian Tanker Company, Central Bank of Iran, Iran Aluminium Company (Iran); El Materi (Tunisia); Al Tabbaa & Al Asaad (Syria); El Maghraby & Gazaerly (Egypt); Rautenbach & Tomana (Zimbabwe). Judicial review of UK decisions include: R (Azizi v Sedghi) v FCO Affairs and R (Sarkandi) v FCO.

    Some of Maya’s recent broadcasts and articles on sanctions are here:

    The Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 BIICL podcast (July 2018)

    International sanctions seminar, Cyprus (July 2018)

    'The Kadi Case' (Summer 2018) European Advocate

    'Terrorist listings and sanctions' (May 2018)

    'Economic sanctions have been a foreign policy tool of choice for some time' (February 2017) Counsel magazine

    The Bar’s Brexit blogs (January 2017) Counsel magazine

    What are the four things you would change about the EU’s sanctions regimes if you could? (4.11.2016)

    Interview on Monocle Radio on Syria sanctions here (28.10.2016).

    Panama Papers Sanctions interview: BBC Radio 4 - The World at One (5.4.2016).

    Economist: Article (20.6.2015).

    BBC Radio 4: Russian Sanctions (‘The Report’, 9.4.2015).

    Australian radio broadcast on Hamas de-listing here (19.12.2014).

    Profile in Christian Science Monitor here (8.5.2014).

    Profile in Foreign Policy here (2.5.2014).

    New York public radio on sanctions against Russia here (6.5.2014).

    Webinar: A webinar on sanctions (27.9.2013).

    YouTube recording of a presentation she gave on sanctions cases in the European Court here (Hague Centre for Law and Arbitration, 19.7.2013).

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2019: "She is the queen of sanctions law." "She is first-class, incredibly user-friendly and amazing on paper; she has incredible drafting skills and she is great in court." "She was very responsive, very insightful and kept a calm, level head." (Sanctions)

    2018: "A first-class barrister who is highly responsive and authoritative, and who has an unsurpassed knowledge of the law." (Sanctions)

    2017: "Queen of the Sanctions Bar without a doubt. She is just phenomenal." "Beyond responsive. First-class." (Sanctions)

    2017: "Her brain works at a different speed, and she's delightfully modest and easy to work with." "She's one of the leading lights for sanctions." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2016: "An excellent junior with a particular speciality in sanctions work, one of the leading experts in that field." "Owns the world of sanctions." (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    Legal 500

    2017: ‘Fantastic knowledge of terrorism and sanctions laws.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    Who's Who Legal

    2015: “Maya Lester is known for her 'ability to cut to the heart of a case immediately'. She has particular expertise in the law relating to economic sanctions.”

  • Civil liberties and human rights M

    Maya Lester QC was a founding member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association and undertakes regular human rights work, including pro bono / public interest litigation. 

    Her leading cases in this area include: Rahmatullah (human rights damages for alleged abuse in Afghanistan & Iraq); Bancoult (the Chagos Islands litigation, in the UK courts & ECHR); Walker v Innospec (equal treatment in civil partners’ pensions); International Sikh Youth Federation (proscribed terrorist organisations); the leading case on freedom of political expression R (Prolife Alliance) v BBC; the Shambo case (R (Community for the Many Names of God) v Welsh Assembly Government (CA)). 

    Her European Court of Human Rights cases include Georgia v Russian Federation; Yukos v Russian Federation; Mattilla v Finland; Bancoult v United Kingdom and Chagos Islanders v United Kingdom.

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2019: "A very good and extremely clever barrister." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2018: "Maya Lester is utterly approachable, unflappable and a consummate performer in court." "She is meticulously prepared." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2017: "Her brain works at a different speed, and she's delightfully modest and easy to work with." "She's one of the leading lights for sanctions." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2016: "An excellent junior with a particular speciality in sanctions work, one of the leading experts in that field." "Owns the world of sanctions." (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2016: "An erudite human rights junior who is well versed in high-profile judicial review cases and national security matters. Advises a diverse list of clients including individuals and large businesses." (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    Legal 500

    2018-19: ‘Gives measured and considered advice and comes across as the voice of reason in court.’

    2017: ‘Fantastic knowledge of terrorism and sanctions laws.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2016: ‘An excellent lawyer, who is diligent and creative.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2015: ‘An amazing team player with a calmness under pressure that is much admired.’  (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

  • Competition M

    Maya Lester has extensive experience in all areas of UK and EU competition litigation and advisory work.  Her practice includes competition investigations, appeals, and judicial reviews, follow-on damages actions, abuse of dominance, cartels, ECJ actions for annulment and preliminary references.  Maya currently advises a regulator on the competition law implications of Brexit.

    She is a regular speaker at competition events including the ABA Antitrust Spring meeting & MLex conference, and was on the organising committee of the Fordham Competition Law Institute Annual Conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy.

    Standalone and follow-on competition claims

    Maya appeared in the first ever follow-on damages trial in the UK, Enron v EWS, and in several since including Emerald v BA (Air Cargo) and National Grid v Alstom & Ors.  She appeared in the standalone actions Foundem and Streetmap v Google (abuse of dominance), British Horseracing Board v AtTheRaces (abuse of dominance and excessive pricing), and in the leading case on prosecution of cartels for conspiracy to defraud R v Goldshield (heard in the House of Lords with Norris v USA).

    Appeals from competition regulatory decisions

    Maya has appeared in major competition appeals in the High Court, Court of Appeal and CAT and EU courts, including: Alstom (French Blocking Statute), (BSkyB and Premier League v Ofcom (Pay TV)); LIBOR (JP Morgan in the EU General Court); telecoms (Carphone Warehouse v Ofcom (Carrier Pre-selection); BT v Ofcom (080 termination charges); Tesco v OFT (dairy cartel); (Racecourse Association v OFT (collective selling); Hays v OFT (construction recruitment forum penalty appeals).

    OFT / CMA and European Commission investigations

    Private schools' fees; Orders and Rules of Horseracing; cigarette pricing; construction industry cover pricing; dairy investigation; LIBOR.

    Competition judicial reviews

    Maya has appeared in numerous competition judicial reviews in the High Court and Court of Appeal, including Ryanair v Competition Commission; John Lewis v OFT (extended warranties); Association of Convenience Stores v OFT (press distribution); R (UniChem) v OFTR (Celesio) v OFT; R (Cityhook) v OFT; R (Sports Direct) v Competition Commission.

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2019: "She is calm, experienced and a lawyer with excellent drafting skills." (Competition Law)

    2018: "She offers wise and measured counsel, drafts beautifully and is great on her feet." (Competition Law)

    2017: "She is particularly good on complex cases, and very positive and definitive on points of law." (Competition Law)

    2016: "A very bright and diligent junior." "She's good with clients, gives measured and considered advice, and comes across as the voice of reason in court." (Competition Law)

    2016: "A hugely gifted public and competition law expert who receives consistent praise for both her advocacy skills and her thoughtful and creative approach to cases. Over the years she has acted in a number of headline cases, including the dairy cartel affair and the Premier League pay-TV affair. (Chambers Global, Competition Law Band 1)

    2016: "She is very measured and persuasive on her feet, managing to clearly cut through a case to its core issues." "A real team player who rolls up her sleeves." (Chambers Global, Competition Law Band 1)

    Legal 500

    2018-19: ‘An excellent, clear, concise, precise and effective advocate.’ (Competition)

    2017: ‘A busy silk with a fast-growing practice.’ (Competition)

    2016: ‘She fully deserved silk, and is a top-drawer advocate and adviser.’ (EU & Competition)

    2015: ‘Her drafting skills are excellent and unique.’ (EU & Competition)

  • Agriculture, fishing and food M

    Maya Lester QC is a regular adviser to the National Farmers Union and other individuals & entities on agricultural matters, in particular those with a public, EU, PIL or competition angle.

    She has appeared in a large number of cases involving animal health, environmental law and agriculture including: judicial review of the decision to slaughter Shambo the temple bullock (R (Community for the Many Names of God) v Welsh Assembly Government (CA)the European Emissions Trading Scheme (R (Cemex v Secretary of State for the Environment); the Renewable Energy Assurance Scheme (Crystal v REAL); foot and mouth disease (R (Kindersley) v Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food and Pride & Ors v Institute of Animal Health, Merial Ltd & Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (escape of foot & mouth disease)She has advised regularly on cases involving bovine TB, foot & mouth disease, and badger culling, and on the implications of Brexit for the agricultural sector.

  • Terrorism and national security M

    Maya Lester QC regularly advises on and appears in cases relating to terrorism and national security, in the UK and EU courts and tribunals.  Her leading cases in this field include: Rahmatullah (alleged mistreatment in Afghanistan & Iraq), Kadi 2 (terrorist asset freezing, EU measures implementing UNSC resolutions), International Sikh Youth Federation (terrorism prescribed organisations).

    Legal 500

    2017: ‘Fantastic knowledge of terrorism and sanctions laws.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

  • Publications M

    Blog: www.europeansanctions.com (nearly 6000 followers, the leading sanctions online resource worldwide).

    Book chapters: EU Competition Law: Procedures and Remedies (Gray, Lester, Darbon, Facenna, Holmes, Oxford University Press) Co-author; Human Rights Practice (eds Simor & Emmerson, Sweet & Maxwell) Editorial Assistant and Updater on Article 10 of the ECHR); Law of the European Union (eds Vaughan and Robertson, Oxford University Press) Contributing Author; Competition Litigation (UK Practice and Procedure) (OUP), Contributing Author.

    Articles include: 'The Kadi Case' [Summer 2018] European Advocate; 'Economic sanctions have been a foreign policy tool of choice for some time' [Counsel, February 2017]; Brussels lists, Luxembourg de-lists? Sanctions de-designation cases in the European Court' [May 2013] World Expert Control Review; Targeted sanctions and sanctions targeted: Iranian banks in the European Court' [May 2013] Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law; 'Judicial review of sanctions decisions: "The wrong point in the wrong court with the wrong defendant"?' [2013] Judicial Review 206; ‘Prosecuting Cartels for Conspiracy to Defraud' [2008] Competition Law Journal; ‘Judicial Review in the UK of Competition and State Aid Decisions' [2007] European Common Market Law (co-author); ‘UniChem v OFT' [2005] Competition Law Journal; ‘Puzzling over Abuse of Right' [2004] European Current Law; ‘Human Rights - The International Dimension' [2004] The Lawyer; ‘The Chapter I Prohibition' [2002] Competition Law Review; ‘The Bar European Group in Budapest' [2001] European Advocate.

    Click here to see Maya appearing in the Supreme Court defending the assassins of Julius Caesar in a charity trial.

  • Qualifications M

    U.K:  James Allen's Girls' School; Clare College, Cambridge University (BA in History, First Class in Pts I & II); Diploma in Law at City University (Distinction, 1st place); Bar Vocational Course (Inns of Court School of Law); called to Bar at Lincoln's Inn (2000); Pupillage at Brick Court Chambers; QC (Lincoln’s Inn) 2016.

    U.S.A: Master of Studies in Law and Visiting Scholar (Yale Law School, Paul Mellon Fellowship); Visiting Scholar (Columbia Law School); Researcher at the Open Society Institute (New York); Summer Associate at Williams & Connolly (Washington DC); Judicial Extern to Judge Thelton Henderson (Federal District Court, San Francisco); Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School (New York); Seminars at Yale, Columbia and NYU on targeted sanctions (2011-2012); Henry Fellowship at the US State Department, 2012.

    European and International experience: Stagiaire at the European Court of Justice (Advocate General Francis Jacobs); International Law Intern at the Supreme Court of Israel; Part-time Tutor in European Law, City University (London).  Training for judges, lawyers and prosecutors on human rights and European law for the Slynn Foundation, Interrights, the Council of Europe and the Turkish Chief of Staff (including in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Serbia, Poland and Turkey); Speaker at the Anglo-Finnish Competition Law Trust (in Finland and Estonia), the University of Amsterdam, the Italian Antitrust Association, the European University Institute.

    Awards: Clare College Foundation Scholarship; Clare College History Award; Paul Mellon Fellowship to Yale Law School; Lincoln's Inn Hardwicke Entrance Award; Lincoln's Inn Mansfield Scholarship; Winner of 2000 Lincolns Inn Robert Wright Mooting Competition; Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Prize; Pegasus Scholarship from the Inns of Court; Bingham Centre Fellowship; Henry Fellowship at US State Department.

    Appointments: Bar Council European Law Committee; Advisory Board Peace Brigades International UK.

  • Directory Quotes M

    Maya Lester QC is recommended as a leading silk by the legal directories in six practice areas: Administrative & Public Law, Competition & European Law, Civil Liberties & Human Rights, Public International Law and Sanctions.  She is ranked in the 'Chambers 100 UK Bar', a list of the top 100 barristers, and Who’s Who rank her among the world's leading competition and trade and customs lawyers and as a 'Thought Leader' for Brexit 2018.

    Chambers & Partners UK

    2019: "Gives really proactive advice and knows the crossover of human rights and EU law extremely well." " So bright and focused, she gets to the key point in minutes." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2019: "A very good and extremely clever barrister." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2019: "She is calm, experienced and a lawyer with excellent drafting skills." (Competition Law)

    2019: "Lester is very good to work with and manages matters very well." (European Law)

    2019: "She is the queen of sanctions law." "She is first-class, incredibly user-friendly and amazing on paper; she has incredible drafting skills and she is great in court." "She was very responsive, very insightful and kept a calm, level head." (Sanctions)

    2018: "She is diligent, hard-working and able." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2018: "Maya Lester is utterly approachable, unflappable and a consummate performer in court." "She is meticulously prepared." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2018: "She offers wise and measured counsel, drafts beautifully and is great on her feet." (Competition Law)

    2018: "She knows EU law inside out and can translate the process well for clients. She is able to take the commercial views of the client on board while remaining sensitive to the expectations of the court." (European Law)

    2018: "A first-class barrister who is highly responsive and authoritative, and who has an unsurpassed knowledge of the law." (Sanctions)

    2017: "Able to turn out high-quality work in a limited time. Her brain works at a different speed. She is delightfully modest and easy to work with and has a total grasp of the law." "She is really good with clients, gives measured, considered advice, and comes across as the voice of reason in court." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2017: "Her brain works at a different speed, and she's delightfully modest and easy to work with." "She's one of the leading lights for sanctions." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2017: "She is particularly good on complex cases, and very positive and definitive on points of law." (Competition Law)

    2017: "She is happy to answer queries at all hours and really knows her stuff." (European Law)

    2017: "Queen of the Sanctions Bar without a doubt. She is just phenomenal." "Beyond responsive. First-class." (Sanctions)

    2016: "An excellent junior with a particular speciality in sanctions work, one of the leading experts in that field." "Owns the world of sanctions." (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2016: "An erudite human rights junior who is well versed in high-profile judicial review cases and national security matters. Advises a diverse list of clients including individuals and large businesses." (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2016: "A very bright and diligent junior." "She's good with clients, gives measured and considered advice, and comes across as the voice of reason in court." (Competition Law)

    2016: "A hugely gifted public and competition law expert who receives consistent praise for both her advocacy skills and her thoughtful and creative approach to cases. Over the years she has acted in a number of headline cases, including the dairy cartel affair and the Premier League pay-TV affair. (Chambers Global, Competition Law Band 1)

    2016: "She is very measured and persuasive on her feet, managing to clearly cut through a case to its core issues." "A real team player who rolls up her sleeves." (Chambers Global, Competition Law Band 1)

    2016: "She is fantastic, incredibly committed to her work and leaves no stone unturned. In addition, her drafting skills are second to none. I've never met anyone who could draft as well as her in any legal context. She is able to distil arguments on all sorts of legal issues from international law to European law and synthesise them in a way which is brilliant." (European Law)

    Legal 500

    2018-19:  ‘She has an outstanding intellect and drafting skills that are unique and exceptional.’ (Administrative and Public Law)

    2018-19: ‘Gives measured and considered advice and comes across as the voice of reason in court.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2018-19: ‘An excellent, clear, concise, precise and effective advocate.’ (Competition)

    2018-19: "Exceptionally talented, and has an uncanny ability to immediately identify the key to a complex issue." (EU Law)

    2018-19: ‘Innovative and creative in thought, and the leading barrister on the issue of sanctions.’ (Public International Law)

    2017: ‘Collaborative, efficient and clear-eyed in her judgement.’ (Administrative and Public Law)

    2017: ‘Fantastic knowledge of terrorism and sanctions laws.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2017: ‘A busy silk with a fast-growing practice.’ (Competition)

    2017: ‘The voice of reason in court, a superb drafter and a precise advocate.’ (EU Law)

    2017: ‘Her drafting skills are exceptional and she is extremely persuasive in court.’ (Public International Law)

    2016: ‘The voice of reason in court.’ (Administrative and Public Law)

    2016: ‘An excellent lawyer, who is diligent and creative.’ (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2016: ‘She fully deserved silk, and is a top-drawer advocate and adviser.’ (EU & Competition)

    2016: ‘Efficient, effective and undaunted by unknowns.’ (Public International Law)

    2015: ‘Provides opinions, pleadings and oral advocacy of the highest calibre.’ (Administrative and Public Law, Tier 1)

    2015: ‘An amazing team player with a calmness under pressure that is much admired.’  (Civil Liberties and Human Rights)

    2015: ‘Her drafting skills are excellent and unique.’ (EU & Competition)

    2015: ‘Her oral advocacy is of the highest calibre, displaying meticulous preparation and captivating delivery.’ (Public International Law)

    Who's Who Legal 

    2018: Listed as one of the world's leading trade and customs lawyers.

    2018: Listed as one of the world's leading competition lawyers.

    2017: Listed as a leading practitioner for Trade and Customs.

    2016: “The newest silk at the set, Maya Lester QC, is extensively experienced in competition investigations and appeals. Before taking silk, instructing solicitors regarded her 'as a standout senior junior', regularly praising her 'attention to detail and assiduous nature'”.

    2015: “Maya Lester is known for her 'ability to cut to the heart of a case immediately'. She has particular expertise in the law relating to economic sanctions.”

    Maya Lester was chosen as one of the ten Future Stars of the Bar 2008 (The Times, 20 November 2008): "It takes something to get noticed when you are surrounded by colleagues such as Sumption, Green, Howard and Popplewell.  But Maya Lester, 34, has earned a reputation at Brick Court, one of the leading commercial chambers, for her quick mind and measured advocacy... she has been involved in three cases before the House of Lords this year... Along with her human rights work she has a busy caseload of competition and European matters".