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Joshua Kelly

Senior Associate

Commercial litigation | International arbitration | Pro bono | Public international law | Tax investigations and disputes |

Joshua is an excellent lawyer who is driven to achieve the best results for his clients.

Who's Who Legal: Arbitration Future Leaders (Non-Partners) 2024

Profile details

About Joshua Kelly

Joshua is a Senior Associate in our international arbitration group and public international law practice in London. He has previously spent time in our Paris office.

Joshua acts in commercial, investor-state and inter-State arbitration and litigation, representing and advising a broad range of clients (including States and State-owned entities) with a focus on Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and offshore jurisdictions. He has experience in disputes across the mining and metals, oil and gas, telecoms and technology, life sciences, insurance/reinsurance and defence sectors.

Joshua has particular expertise in:

  • investments in high-risk jurisdictions
  • commercial contractual disputes and foreign torts
  • tax disputes 
  • UNCLOS and the law of the sea (including sea-level rise and the arrest and detention of vessels)
  • international organizations
  • immunities under international law
  • land and maritime boundary disputes 
  • anti-corruption laws and sanctions, and
  • international humanitarian law and human rights, including before the European Court of Human Rights.

Prior to joining Freshfields, Joshua worked as a government lawyer in Australia providing legal advice to senior government officials on issues of international law and public law.


Recent work

Public international law and investor-State disputes

  • Representing a European sovereign State in an inter-State arbitration concerning the arrest and detention of a vessel, and immunities under international law.
  • Representing a European sovereign State in the English courts in enforcement proceedings arising out of a dispute under an intra-EU bilateral investment treaty.
  • Representing businesses before the European Court of Human Rights in complaints regarding freedom of expression, property rights and fair trial rights.
  • Representing a mining investor in an UNCITRAL arbitration against a central Asian State under an investment law (including parallel proceedings in the English courts).
  • Advising a sovereign State on a dispute arising under an international human rights law treaty.
  • Advising States on the effects of sea-level rise on statehood, maritime boundaries and related issues.
  • Advising States and several State-owned entities on their immunities under international law, and representing States in sovereign immunity disputes before the English courts.
  • Advising States on the establishment of an international organisation.
  • Advising international organisations on a range of issues, including membership.
  • Advising an oil and gas company on the arrest of a vessel by a State.
  • Representing an energy investor in its dispute with an African State regarding unlawful taxation, including issues arising under a double taxation agreement.
  • Advising oil and gas companies on issues arising from maritime boundary disputes.
  • Advising development banks on their immunities and dispute resolution options for financing, particularly in emerging markets.
  • Advising FTSE100 companies on the structuring of their investments in high-risk jurisdictions.

Commercial arbitration and litigation

  • Representing a multinational conglomerate in defending a US$1bn LCIA arbitration claim brought by a shareholder in relation to a telecoms project.
  • Representing an oil and gas company in its defence of a complex US$300m LCIA post-M&A tax warranty claim.
  • Representing an industrial gas company in successfully obtaining interim relief from an ICC Emergency Arbitrator. 
  • Representing a pharmaceutical company in its successful defence of post-M&A warranty claims valued in excess of US$150 million.
  • Representing a Liberian telecoms company in the English High Court in its successful foreign law tort claim arising out of cyber-attacks carried out by a convicted hacker-for-hire.
  • Representing a national oil company in successfully defending a claim under an English law governed farmout agreement.
  • Representing a multinational telecoms company in several complex invoicing disputes with a tower provider valued in excess of US$200 million.
  • Representing a Russian development company in a US$200m dispute under an English law governed project management agreement, including parallel proceedings in the US and Cyprus courts (conducted in English and Russian).
  • Representing an oil and gas company in a dispute with a Latin American State concerning forfeiture provisions under an English law-governed Joint Operating Agreement.
  • Advising insurers and insureds on coverage disputes under the Bermuda excess liability form, in the context of claims made by insureds in the telecoms and pharmaceutical sectors.
  • Representing an insurer in a dispute under an M&A warranty and indemnity insurance policy.
  • Representing a venture capital fund in three parallel arbitrations (LCIA and SCC Expedited Rules) for the recovery of debts owed under English law financing agreements, including parallel interim relief and insolvency proceedings in offshore courts (conducted in English and Russian).
  • Advising on claims in the English courts arising out of breaches of international law and foreign torts.

Pro bono work

  • Filing complaints with the United Nations Human Rights Committee on behalf of individuals from a Central Asian State who have suffered breaches of their human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including violations of their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
  • Advising NGOs on EU/UK sanctions issues.
  • Advising an NGO on legislative reform to enable the seizure and repurposing of assets to provide compensation to persons affected by crimes against humanity and war crimes.
  • Drafting legislative proposals and private members' bills for NGOs on issues on issues of international law.
  • Assisting an international NGO providing advice to small and developing States on the negotiation of a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine life in the high seas.

Joshua also regularly appears as a volunteer advocate on behalf of appellants before the Asylum Support Tribunal, working with the Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP).



  • Master of Laws specialising in international law, Australian National University (Dean's Prize)
  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons), University of Technology, Sydney (ranked 2nd in graduating year; subject prizes for torts, succession, industrial law; prizes for best oral advocate in various mooting competitions)
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Technology, Sydney

Professional qualifications

  • Solicitor-Advocate (Higher Courts - Civil), England & Wales 
  • Solicitor, New South Wales, Australia 

Other roles

  • Visiting lecturer, King's College London

Professional memberships

  • European Society of International Law
  • International Law Association (British Branch)
  • Young International Arbitration Group

Languages: Portuguese, French (working), Russian (basic).