Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London

Barrister of the Week, October 2021, The Lawyer

Professor Bill Bowring is well known for his work in the field of human rights. He combines his academic work with practice at the Bar, appearing in the European Court of Human Rights, and advising the Council of Europe, European Union, OSCE, United Nations, on human rights, minority rights and related issues.

He also advises on Russian law and the law of the countries of the Former Soviet Union. He is the author of Who’s Who Legal Business and Corporate Responsibility in Russia.

If you would like more information about Bill’s practice, please contact his clerks or call +44 (0)20 7405 6114.

Professional memberships

  • Chair of the International Steering Committee of the European
  • Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC)
  • Chairman of the British-Russian Law Association
  • President of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)
  • Executive Committee Member of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales
  • International Secretary of the Haldane Society
  • Trustee of the Redress Trust
  • Member of the Human Rights Lawyers Association

Advocate at the European Court of Human Rights

Selected cases

  • Korobov and others v Estonia (Application no. 10195/08, 28 March 2013) Young ethnic Russians ill-treated by Estonian police at the time of the “Bronze Soldier” disturbances in 2007 – violations of Article 3 (ill-treatment) and Article 3 (failure to investigate)
  • Ilgar Ibrahim oglu Allahverdiyev v Azerbaidjan (Asadbeyli and Others v. Azerbaijan), Application no. 36083/05, 11 December 2012)
    Unfair trial – violation of Article 6
  • Kotov v Russia (Application no. 54522/00, 3 April 2012)
    Applicant lost savings through unlawful act of court-appointed liquidator following bank’s insolvency – won in the Chamber, lost in the Grand Chamber – oral hearing on 12 January 2011
  • Tsintsabadze v Georgia (Application no. 35403/06, 15 February 2011)
    Death by hanging in prison – violation of Article 2
  • Tsarkov v Russia (Application no. 16854/03, 16 July 2009)
    Violation of Article 5 – applicant’s pre-trial detention
  • Zdanoka v Latvia (Application No. 58278/00, Chamber 17 June 2004; Grand Chamber 16 March 2006)
    Applicant was prohibited from standing as a candidate for election – Article 3 of Protocol 1 – she won in the Chamber 5-2, but lost in the Grand Chamber 13-4. See Bill Bowring “Negating Pluralist Democracy: The European Court of Human Rights Forgets the Rights of the Electors” (2007) 11 KHRP Legal Review pp.67-96
  • Khudoyorov v. Russia (Application No. 6847/02, 8 November 2005)
    Complaints of conditions of detention and unfair trial – violations of Article 3, 5 and 6
  • Fadeyeva v Russia (Application No. 55723/00, 9 June 2005)
    1st environmental case against Russia, only the 5th at Strasbourg – violation of Article 8
  • Isayeva and others v Russia (Application Nos. 57947-9/00, 24 February 2005)
    1st 6 Chechen cases against Russia – bombing of refugee column, massacres in Grozny and another town – killing of children, destruction of property – multiple violations
  • Ipek v Turkey (Application No. 25760/94, 17 February 2004)
    Abduction by Turkish army of 2 of the applicant’s sons – oral fact-finding hearing in Turkey – violations of article 2 and 3
  • Aktas v Turkey (Application No. 24351/94, 24 April 2003)
    Death of young man in police custody – oral fact-finding hearing in Turkey – findings of torture and death by asphyxiation – violations of Articles 2 and 3
  • Podkolzina v Latvia (Application No. 46726/99, 9 April 2002)
    Ethnic Russian prevented from standing as a candidate for parliamentary elections – violation of Article 3 of Protocol 1
  • Özgür Gündem v Turkey (Application No. 22492/93, 16 March 2000)
    Turkish Kurdish newspaper violations of Article 10, freedom of expression – also positive duty under Article 10 to protect freedom of expression

Expert witness

Commercial cases (forum non conveniens)

Many cases in several jurisdictions, but the following are reported.

  • MB & Services Ltd and Golovina v United Company Rusal Plc: [2020]. The court preferred Bill’s evidence about the independence of the Russian judiciary and, coupled with other factors, concluded there was a real risk justice would not be served if the case were to be heard in Russia.
  • BTA Bank v Ablyazov [2013] EWHC 510 (Comm)
  • Erste Group Bank AG v JSC “VMZ Red October” and others [2013] EWHC 2926 (Comm)
  • Berezovsky v Abramovich [2012] EWHC 2463 (Comm)
  • Cherney v. Deripaska [2008] EWHC 1530 (Comm)Christopher Clark J (para 202)“Mr Cherney instructed Professor Bowring, the Professor of Law at Birkbeck College.  He is a fluent Russian speaker with a particular interest in the independence of the Russian judiciary. It is apparent from his curriculum vitae that he is well qualified to give such a report, having extensive experience of the workings of the Russian legal system, having advised UK Government departments and European and other bodies on the Russian legal system and on access to justice in Russia, and having carried out training for senior Russian judges and administrators and worked with senior figures in the system. He has given expert evidence in a number of extradition cases. I am satisfied that he has an open minded attitude to the system, of which, as it happens he appears to have been both the victim and the beneficiary”


Russian cases

  • RF v Tyurin – judgment of DJ Nicholas Evans of 4 March 2013, defendant discharged on similar grounds.
  • RF v Trefilov, judgment of DJ Nicholas Evans of 16 November 2012 –  “reasonable grounds for believing GT would be at a real risk of suffering Article 3 ill-treatment were he to be extradited to the RF.”  Discharged.
  • RF v Shefler, judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 8 June 2010 – vodka. Discharged.
  • RF v Makhlay and Makarov, judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 8 May 2009 – TOAZ – ammonia. Discharged.
  • RF v Izmaylov and Mikhaylyuk, judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 22 December 2008 – Sovcomflot and Novoship – chartering of oil tankers. Discharged.
  • RF v Nikitin and Skarga, judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 8 December 2008 – Sovcomflot – tankers. Discharged.
  • RF v Azarov – judgment of DJ Nicholas Evans of 19 December 2007 – YUKOS. Discharged.
  • RF v Temerko – judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 23 December 2005 – a YUKOS case Discharged.
  • RF v Maruev and Chernysheva, judgment of DJ Tim Workman on 18 March 2005. This was the first of several YUKOS related cases. Discharged.
  • RF v Zakaev, judgment of DJ Tim Workman of 13 November 2003. Contribution – refuting the evidence of the Russian Deputy Minister of Justice as to the prison in which Mr Zakaev would be held if returned. Discharged.

Ukraine cases

  • Ukraine v Lutsyuk – Divisional Court [2013] EWHC 189 (Admin);
  • Ukraine v Drobnokhod (2013);
  • Ukraine v Kononko (2013)
  • Ukraine v Guziyenko (2011);
  • Ukraine v Zaporozhchenko and Redya (2011)

Other cases

  • Azerbaijan v Mirzayev (2012);
  • Turkey v Konuksever (2012);  
  • Moldova v Antonov (2012);

And many immigration and asylum cases

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