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Arthur Watts public international law seminar series sponsored by Volterra Fietta: The Revolution in

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What legal principles govern the external exercise of state power within the common law legal systems of the UK and other Commonwealth states? Traditional doctrines served largely to exclude foreign relations from the purview of municipal law. But recent developments have challenged those assumptions across many fronts, from the state's commercial transactions to the battlefield.

Cases pending in the English courts - such as Belhaj, Khan and Serdar Mohamed - continue to contest the contemporary scope of the act of state doctrine in cases involving the actions of the British and foreign governments in dealing with defence and security issues abroad. Has there been a revolution in Anglo-Commonwealth foreign relations law? If so, what are the guide-posts to this changing landscape?

This seminar examined the contemporary function of foreign relations law and how it is changing, from both academic and practitioner perspectives. Speakers commented on the tension between foreign relations law and human rights, and between the rule of law and other forms of public accountability.



  • Richard Hermer QC, Matrix Chambers
  • Iain Macleod, Legal Adviser, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Professor Campbell McLachlan QC, Victoria University of Wellington Law School, Author of Foreign Relations Law


  • Lord Collins of Mapesbury, former Justice, UK Supreme Court
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