Laws of War and IHL Services


Armed conflict in its various forms is invariably the result of a failure of politics and diplomacy, or decisions taken by leaders for their own reasons, and it is ordinarily in the interest of all parties to limit its destructive capacity.  Very few would wish to see and even less seek to experience the complete abrogation of humanity in conflict and the associated and long-lasting damage done to combatants, civilians and property, as well as to international reputations.

It is for this reason that international and non-international armed conflicts, and their effects and outcomes are regulated by international law, such International Humanitarian Law (“IHL” or “the Laws of Armed Conflict” (“LOAC”) or “the Laws of War”), International Human Rights Law, Refugee Law etc.  Those responsible for contraventions of the law in time of conflict and arguably those who back them, regardless of their status or standing, are not immune from the consequences of their actions, as demonstrated by the very existence and activities of the International Criminal Court (“the ICC”).

Members of Pavocat Chambers together with our Friends and Associates are experts with many years of experience at the very highest level of advancing, as well as teaching, IHL and its related disciplines in various structures, forums and at various levels.  As practitioners of the Laws of War, we advise on all legal aspects of armed conflict, whether it is state-on-state, conflict by proxy or internal in nature.

We are specialists in the law relating to the resort to armed conflict (jus ad bellum) as well as in the methods and means of warfare (jus in bello), and our views are sought on the most challenging of issues and on the most contemporary problems.  Our expertise extends to leading independent war crimes investigations through to prosecuting and defending those accused of such crimes, as well as other contraventions of International Criminal Law (“ICL”).

Pavocat-IHL is not constrained by the traditional parameters of the Laws of War.  Whilst we deal with conflict, we also specialise in resolving for our Clients the myriad of problems associated with it and with post-conflict and collapsed state environments.  Our services embrace the full gambit of human rights, refugees, countering-corruption and state capture as an inhibitor of post conflict recovery.  We advise on all aspects of law reform and good governance as a means of developing out of the poverty often associated with having engaged in conflict.

Our Clients are States, international and non-international governmental organisations, companies operating within the global defence sector and private military companies together with those entities that engage them.

Pavocat Chambers aspires to be the natural home in London of counsel practising internationally within the specialised field of IHL and its related disciplines.

IHL Services

Members of Chambers provide a full spectrum of IHL services to their Clients.  Aside from advising on and teaching all aspects of the Laws of War and prosecuting and defending those accused in various forums of contravening International Criminal Law, we also provide advice, guidance and advocacy in the following areas:


  • INVESTIGATION OF WAR CRIMES: The need for independent, high quality and admissible investigations of alleged contraventions of the laws of armed conflict is now beyond doubt.  The reliability and integrity of such inquires ordinarily undertaken by the military accused of committing grave breaches of IHL is consistently called into question, nationally and internationally, often to the detriment of the accused service personnel.  To overcome this very real problem, members of Chambers have developed and now offers an INDEPENDENT WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION SERVICE (“IWCIS”), which permits client States to outsource investigations of alleged war crimes confident that they will receive a detailed and comprehensive evidential dossier upon which prosecutorial decisions can be safely and transparently based.

  • MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEMS (“MJSs”): The efficacy and integrity of IHL compliance is judged by a State’s ability to try fairly and effectively war crimes alleged to have been committed by its service personnel.  Members of Chambers can review and enhance a State’s existing MJSs or design new, improved and internationally recognised resolution mechanisms together with providing the architecture and resources necessary to implement any new system of military justice.

  • Alternatively, we have the ability and capacity to offer an outsourced, independent and entirely objective MJS as part of our MILITARY DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM (“MDRM”), which, depending upon the circumstances, embraces mediation, truth and reconciliation through to a full blown external appellate courts-martial system, which could lead to a serviceperson being incarcerated for the commission of war crimes by the client state that he or she served.

  • MILITARY LEGAL SERVICE: Our Counsel can assist in the creation and implementation of a dedicated Military Legal Service – purple or specific to each arm of a State’s military – that would, amongst other things, provide operational legal advice and guidance to commanders at all levels, as well as the lawyers required to administer, prosecute and defend within the State’s MJS.  In short, our Counsel could build for a client State a Judge Advocate Generals Corp (or equivalent) capable of fulfilling its international commitments or we could improve the effectiveness, capabilities and credibility of any existing Military Legal Service.  We can also arrange on an ad hoc or more permanent basis for the provision of prosecutors capable of prosecuting the most difficult and challenging of military offences, including war crimes, within the State’s MJS or within its national courts (on this, see below).

  • EMBEDDED LEGAL SUPPORT: Aside from helping a State to create a dedicated Military Legal Service, Pavocat Chambers can provide highly experienced and capable military lawyers to serve within the client State’s military and to advise its commanders on all aspects of military law and LOAC both in time of peace and conflict.  Embedded Pavocat lawyers would act as advisers, as well as teachers and mentors to less experienced lawyers within the State’s military apparatus.

  • IHL ADOPTION SERVICE: Members of Chambers can be instructed to assist a State in ratifying IHL treaties and more.  Our Counsel can draft all the necessary legislation to implement safely and securely IHL treaty commitments within the State, including advising on membership of the International Criminal Court.  Moreover, Counsel can write or review all the military laws, regulations and manuals required to operate a contemporary and human rights compliant MJS.