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Maya Lester QC

YEAR OF CALL: 2000    YEAR OF SILK: 2016

“She is a total dream of a lawyer”, “calm and persuasive”, “fantastically good”, “exceptionally intellectually agile” “An excellent team leader and motivator”, “a divinely forensic advocate”
Chambers & Partners/ Legal 500 2020
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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' list of the top 100 barristers, and in Who’s Who as one of the world's leading competition and trade and customs lawyers and as a 'Thought Leader' for Brexit. Her most recent cases include Wightman (the ECJ case on the revocability of Brexit), acting for JP Morgan in the LIBOR investigation, and for the MOL Group in its European Arrest Warrant EU litigation & international arbitrations.  She is a member of the Bars of England & Ireland.

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 europeansanctions.com, the leading online resource on sanctions & export control, with over 7000 followers worldwide and has given evidence on sanctions to a number parliamentary committees.  She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts (including on the new UK Sanctions Act, the EU Blocking Regulation, sanctions contract clauses and investigations) and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi II, 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 leading cases include Kadi(II) v Council & Commission (the leading case on the relationship between UN Security Council resolution s & EU law), R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State (the Chagos Islands judicial reviews in the UK and ECHR), Enron v EWS (the first competition follow-on trial in the UK), R v Goldshield (prosecuting cartels as conspiracy to defraud), Walker v Innospec (equality in civil partners’ pensions) & the Shambo judicial review (on bovine TB).  She has appeared in numerous judicial reviews of regulatory decisions (eg CityhookUniChem), competition appeals (including on LIBOR, Pay TV, horseracing, dairy, and construction recruitment), competition directors' disqualification cases,  ICSID & UNCITRAL arbitrations and appears several times a year in 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, Justice, Public Law Project, Hart, C5, 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 has given evidence on legislative reform to a number of Parliamentary committees, is a frequent 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, Ofcom, the Law Society, National Farmers Union, Renewable Energy Assurance Limited, British Medical Association, British Dental Association, Advertising Standards Authority, the British Standards Institution, Press Distribution Forum.  She regularly advises on the implications of Brexit (including in relation to the EU Withdrawal Act & Sanctions Act).

    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 on religious freedom (R (Community for the Many Names of God) v Welsh Assembly Government (CA)); Works v Gray (discrimination in the Matrimonial Causes Act); R (Bingham) v Governor of the Falkland IslandsLondon 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 (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).

    Maya has appeared in a number of 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

    2020: "She is a total dream: incredibly quick to respond and has an unparalleled ability to produce the highest-quality drafting. Her advocacy style is very calming and persuasive, and she's extremely sensible, down to earth, engaging and dynamic." "She's very bright and has an excellent grasp on the issues.

    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

    2020: "A divinely forensic advocate."

    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, EU fundamental rights, actions for annulment in the EU General Court, and preliminary references to the Court of Justice. Maya is a member of the Irish as well as English Bar, and is on the Bar Council EU Law Committee.  She has particular expertise in the EU Blocking Regulation and recently appeared in Wightman, the ECJ reference about the revocability of Article 50 TFEU (the Brexit trigger).

    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); Zubedi, Al Tabbaa & Al Asaad (Syria); El Maghraby & Gazaerly (Egypt); Rautenbach & Tomana (Zimbabwe).

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2020: "First class on sanctions and her drafting is amazing." "She is enormously diplomatic, a great team player and exceptionally intellectually agile."

    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

    2020: "Her knowledge of EU law is unsurpassed."

    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 II (the leading case on the relationship between international and EU law and on JR of UN Security Council resolutions), AY (European arrest warrants & double jeopardy), the Chagos Islands litigation (on the international law principles of self-determination, the right of abode & treaty obligations to overseas territories), Rahmatullah v Ministry of Defence & FCO (claims of torture & mistreatment in Iraq & Afghanistan), and major Cayman Islands litigation involving Libyan & Cayman law (Palladyne). She has experience in business crime, including criminal sanctions & export control, European Arrest Warrants (including the AY / MOL ligitation and arbitrations) and INTERPOL red notices.

    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.  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.

    Click here to see Maya Lester QC on Newsnight discussing Interpol (November 2018)

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2020: "Unsurpassed as a young QC in the field of sanctions. She has superlative drafting skills."

    Legal 500

    2020: "A divine forensic advocate with unparalleled knowledge of her legal area. "(Public International Law)

    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

    Maya Lester QC has a particular expertise in the law relating to economic sanctions, in litigation, arbitration and advisory work.  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 europeansanctions.com, the leading online sanctions & export control resource, with over 7000 followers worldwide.  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 II, VTB, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, Rotenberg, 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 & export control and across all regimes, including the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and EU Blocking Regulation, trade, sectoral and targeted sanctions, sanctions clauses, de-listings, investigations, litigation and judicial review, the implications of US secondary sanctions, approaches to regulators (reporting obligations and licensing), the Sanctions Act 2018 and human rights/ 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), the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Lords on Brexit sanctions (oral evidence and transcript here and the Canadian Parliament's Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs' review of Canada's sanctions regime here.

    Maya’s sanctions cases in the EU and UK courts include: Lamesa v Cynergy Bank (sanctions clauses); 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); Zubedi, Al Tabbaa & Al Asaad (Syria); El Maghraby & Gazaerly (Egypt); Rautenbach & Tomana (Zimbabwe). Judicial review of UK  sanctions 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:

    Dentons' Business Crime and Investigations Podcast (October 2019)

    Debate at Thomas Reuters “Are Sanctions Fair and Effective?” (September 2019)

    UK sanctions policy post Brexit - Maya Lester QC’s evidence to the House of Commons UK Foreign Affairs Committee and transcript (April 2019)

    Economic Sanctions after Brexit podcast (February 2019)

    US Sanctions & Economic Warfare: Impact for Europe ECFR podcast (December 2018)

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

    International sanctions seminar, Cyprus (July 2018)

    'The Kadi Case' (Summer 2018) European Advocate

    ‘Sanctions after Brexit’ event (June 2018)

    The Sanctions & Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, WorldECR, June 2018 (Issue 70)

    'Terrorist listings and sanctions' (May 2018)

    Evidence session on sanctions policy after Brexit before the Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee (July 2017)

    '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? (November 2016)

    Interview on Monocle Radio on Syria sanctions here (October 2016).

    Evidence session on EU Sanctions before the Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee (October 2016)

    Panama Papers Sanctions interview: BBC Radio 4 - The World at One (April 2016).

    Economist: Article (June 2015).

    Talk on Terrorist Listings and Sanctions at the Asset-Stripping: Responses to the Financing of Terrorism and Crime event  (May 2015)

    BBC Radio 4: Russian Sanctions (‘The Report’, April 2015).

    Australian radio broadcast on Hamas de-listing here (December 2014).

    Profile in Christian Science Monitor here (May 2014).

    Profile in Foreign Policy here (May 2014).

    New York public radio on sanctions against Russia here (May 2014).

    Webinar: A webinar on sanctions (September 2013).

    Presentation on sanctions cases in the European Court here (Hague Centre for Law and Arbitration, July 2013).

    Directory Quotes

    Chambers & Partners

    2020: "She is a total dream: incredibly quick to respond and has an unparalleled ability to produce the highest-quality drafting. Her advocacy style is very calming and persuasive, and she's extremely sensible, down to earth, engaging and dynamic." "She's very bright and has an excellent grasp on the issues. She's on top of everything in the sanctions world."

    2020: "Maya Lester is fantastically good." "She's first class on sanctions and her drafting is amazing."

    2020: "Unsurpassed as a young QC in the field of sanctions. She has superlative drafting skills."

    2020: "First class on sanctions and her drafting is amazing." "She is enormously diplomatic, a great team player and exceptionally intellectually agile."

    2020: "She has an excellent knowledge of sanctions and an understanding of how everything fits in, coupled with a calm, logical manner and a good analytical approach." "She is the queen of sanctions law." "Maya is the pre-eminent sanctions lawyer in London and an expert on EU sanctions."

    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)

    Legal 500

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

    Who's Who Legal

    2019: "Maya Lester QC is “the queen of sanctions”, effuse sources who say she is “very knowledgeable on UK sanctions law” and “always impresses”."

    2019: "Maya Lester QC is a well-established figure in the field with respondents highlighting her impressive ability on sanctions-related matters."

    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); Works v Gray (discrimination in the Matrimonial Causes Act); 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

    2020: "Maya Lester is fantastically good." "her drafting is amazing."

    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." (Civil Liberties & 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

    2020: "An excellent barrister, who is undoubtedly the leading barrister in the difficult and developing area of sanctions."

    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, directors' disqualification, follow-on damages actions, mergers, abuse of dominance, cartels, EU actions for annulment and preliminary references.  Who’s Who Legal has listed her as one of the world’s leading competition lawyers since 2015.

    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) and currently Kodak v Glencore & Ors.

    Appeals from competition regulatory decisions

    Maya has appeared in major competition appeals in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Competition Appeal Tribunal and EU courts, including: Alstom (French Blocking Statute), (BSkyB and Premier League v Ofcom (Pay TV)); LIBOR (JP Morgan v Commission 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 / EURIBOR

    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

    2020: "A total dream of a lawyer, who has an unparalleled ability to produce the highest quality drafting. Her advocacy style is very calming and persuasive." "She was able to drop everything and turn around a piece of advice very quickly."

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

    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

    2020: "An excellent team leader and motivator."

    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)

    Who's Who Legal

    2015 - 2019: Listed as one of the world's leading competition lawyers

  • 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) and Rural Payments Agency; 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.

  • 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). Much of her practice involves business crime, including criminal sanctions & export control, European Arrest Warrants (including the AY / MOL ligitation and arbitrations) and INTERPOL red notices.

    Click here to see Maya Lester QC on Newsnight discussing Interpol (November 2018)

  • Publications M

    Blog: www.europeansanctions.com (over 7000 followers, the leading online sanctions & export control 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: 'Court of Justice says UK's Article 50 notice of intention to leave EU can be unilaterally revoked (Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)' [December 2018] LexisNexis 'General Court rejects challenge to EU decision opening Brexit negotiations as inadmissible (Shindler v Council of the European Union)' [November 2018] LexisNexis;  '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, editorial board World Export Control Review.

  • 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

    2020: "She is a total dream: incredibly quick to respond and has an unparalleled ability to produce the highest-quality drafting. Her advocacy style is very calming and persuasive, and she's extremely sensible, down to earth, engaging and dynamic." "She's very bright and has an excellent grasp on the issues. She's on top of everything in the sanctions world." (Administrative & Public Law)

    2020: "Maya Lester is fantastically good." "She's first class on sanctions and her drafting is amazing." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2020: "A total dream of a lawyer, who has an unparalleled ability to produce the highest quality drafting. Her advocacy style is very calming and persuasive." "She was able to drop everything and turn around a piece of advice very quickly." (Competition Law)

    2020: "First class on sanctions and her drafting is amazing." "She is enormously diplomatic, a great team player and exceptionally intellectually agile." (European Law)

    2020: "Unsurpassed as a young QC in the field of sanctions. She has superlative drafting skills." (Public International Law)

    2020: "She has an excellent knowledge of sanctions and an understanding of how everything fits in, coupled with a calm, logical manner and a good analytical approach." "She is the queen of sanctions law." "Maya is the pre-eminent sanctions lawyer in London and an expert on EU sanctions." (Sanctions)

    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 - UK & Global)

    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

    2020: "A divinely forensic advocate." (Administrative and Public Law)

    2020: "An excellent barrister, who is undoubtedly the leading barrister in the difficult and developing area of sanctions." (Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

    2020: "An excellent team leader and motivator." (Competition)

    2020: "Her knowledge of EU law is unsurpassed." (EU Law)

    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 

    2015-2019: Listed as one of the world's leading competition lawyers.

    2019: "Maya Lester QC is a well-established figure in the field with respondents highlighting her impressive ability on sanctions-related matters." (International Trade & Commodities)

    2019: "Maya Lester QC is “the queen of sanctions”, effuse sources who say she is “very knowledgeable on UK sanctions law” and “always impresses”." (Trade and Customs, International Sanctions) Listed as one of the world's leading trade and customs lawyers since 2017.

    2018: Listed as a 'thought leader' for Brexit.

    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.”