Skip to content

Alex Haines & Sophie O’Sullivan instructed to act for senior international civil servant at the African Union Commission


Date:



Alex Haines and Sophie O’Sullivan have recently been instructed to act for a senior international civil servant at the African Union Commission (AUC) in relation to a number of ongoing matters, including disciplinary proceedings involving serious allegations of multi-million pound misappropriation of African Union (AU) funds and false accounting.

Barristers in Outer Temple Chambers’ International Team are frequently instructed in cases involving international organisations whose disciplinary and regulatory frameworks are often little known about. International Organisations are established by treaty and possess their own international legal personalities. They also enjoy immunity from suit and – through the application of inter alia international human rights law – most have set up internal justice systems that deal with institutional matters.

The African Union

The AU is a continental union and regional organisation – equivalent to the European Union – consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent. In 2001, the AU was created to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and it was officially launched in 2002. The evolution of this institution was the outcome of a consensus by African leaders that there was a need to refocus attention from the fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid (i.e., the OAU’s focus) towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development. The AU represents just over 1 billion people.

The African Union Commission

The AU’s Secretariat is the AUC, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which acts as its executive and administrative branch. It is the key organ playing a central role in the day-to-day management of the AU, representing and defending its interests. The AUC’s Commonwealth equivalent is the Commonwealth Secretariat based in London. The AUC is separate from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, a body based in Gambia that reports to the AU.

The African Union Administrative Tribunal

The AU’s Administrative Tribunal – not to be confused with the AU’s Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights – is the AU’s judicial body established to settle disputes between the AUC and its employees on employment and institutional matters. Created in 1967, its judges are nominated by member states and appointed by the Executive Council of the AU for a term of four years.

International Administrative Tribunals generally exist in the realm of the public international law system. Most international organisations have provided for some sort of internal justice mechanism to address institutional disputes resulting in dozens of International Administrative Tribunals including the three most established: the World Bank Administrative Tribunal, the United Nations Appeals Tribunal and the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal. In the EU, the General Court is the equivalent International Administrative Tribunal for disputes arising out of administrative decisions taken by European Institutions. On the African continent, the African Development Bank Administrative Tribunal in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is the most prominent International Administrative Tribunal.

OTC’s practice in International Organisations Law includes the following areas:

  • Debarment Regimes of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs): international corruption and bribery, representing companies and individuals accused of fraud, corruption collusion and coercion (together, the Sanctionable Practices) before MDB sanctions regimes as well as global investigations and settlement negotiations.
  • Sanctions Law: advising companies and individuals on all aspects of sanctions law across all regimes, particularly those affecting financial transactions and trade between the US, UK, EU, Russia and Iran. Members of the IOL team regularly represent and advise clients on sectoral sanctions risks relating to prospective commercial transactions, the interaction between UN Security Council resolutions and EU and US law, the EU Blocking Regulation, US secondary sanctions regime, the scope and effect of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and the post-Brexit statutory framework of the UK sanctions regimes. Members also advise on reporting obligations to the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), as well as US, EU and UK delisting applications and civil or criminal penalties arising from sanctions breaches.
  • International Administrative Law: representing international civil servants, class actions of individuals, staff associations and international organisations themselves before international administrative tribunals and other international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
  • International Arbitration and ADR: representing parties in commercial arbitrations (including UNCITRAL and LCIA), mediations, conciliations and settlement negotiations with an international dimension, often involving international organisations.
  • International Regulatory and Disciplinary Law: representing both international civil servants and international organisations themselves – with an emphasis on misconduct related to fraud before the disciplinary bodies, committees and appeals panels of international organisations.
  • Immunities of International Organisations and diplomatic immunities: advising on prospects of challenging acts of international organisations before national courts and the applicability of international human rights law to organisations (including domestic litigation before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court).
  • International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law: instructions before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and in case involving the crime of torture under the UN Convention against Torture.
  • Legal consultancy for international organisations including designing internal justice systems and institutional rules and regulations so that they are compliant with international administrative law.

Find out more

To find out more about our expertise in international organisations law or of the barristers listed above please contact our Practice Management Team, Sam Carter or Colin Bunyan, who would be happy to help.


Barristers: Alex Haines | Sophie O'Sullivan
Categories: International Organisations | News | Business Crime