Bretton Woods Law - Lee Marler
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Bretton Woods Law - Antje Kunst
Bretton Woods Law - Joseph Oppenheimer

Lee Marler

Bretton Woods Law - Lee Marler

Marler is an established expert in the rule of law and public international law generally. I have seen him at work over the years and he is impressive. A barrister with a quick mind, an eloquent tongue and a talent with a pen, as well as having a keen sense of humour. I selected him to be my General Counsel at EQ-G for a reason.

General Sir David Richards GCB CBE DSO (former UK CDS and now Lord Richards of Hertsmonceux)

Lawyers in private practice with talent and expertise in resolving MDB sanctions cases are few and far between, but Lee Marler is one of them. He has proven himself time and again to be knowledgeable and highly effective. He is also a fine advocate and draftsman, and this is why I instruct him – where necessary – to assist IACD in its efforts to curb corruption on AfDB financed projects.

Anna Bossman, Director, AfDB’s Integrity and Anticorruption Department (“IACD”)

An unparalleled blend of legal expertise in the area of International Administrative Law and an understanding of the mindset and functioning of legal departments at international institutions.”

Zbigniew Kominek, Former Chair, EBRD Staff Council


Lee Marler (



Barrister, Lead Counsel & Co-Head of Chambers

  • Direct Access Accredited
  • Completed Bar Standards Board Litigation Course
  • CEDR Accredited Mediator



  • Public International Law
    –  BWL Rule of Law and IHL Team Leader


Practice Areas

  • Rule of Law, IHL and Human Rights
  • Multilateral Development Bank (MDB/IFI) Sanctions Cases
  • Construct of Integrity Compliance Programmes
  • International Mediation
  • Employment Disputes within International Organisations

MDB Sanctions proceedings

Lee has an enviable and thriving MDB practice and he enjoys a well-deserved reputation for excellence in this field.  He is held in high regard not only with his commercial clients, but also significantly with the leadership and staff of the anti-corruption offices of the Multilateral Development Banks, where he is seen as a pragmatic, trust worthy and above all an effective opponent.  He is preeminent in his field, for he is one of only a handful of lawyers globally that can claim true expertise and demonstrated success in defending companies and individuals accused of sanctionable practices (i.e., fraud, corruption, collusion or coercion) by the World Bank Group and the other Multilateral Development Banks (e.g., the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank).  He has appeared before the World Bank’s Sanctions Board and is unique in that he has now successfully brokered and fulfilled the obligations under two Negotiated Resolution Agreements (or Settlement Agreements) with the World Bank on behalf of two large international companies, which resulted in substantially reduced periods of debarment for both (one recommended sanction reduced from three years debarment with conditional release to a straight debarment of under four months) and which avoided cross-debarment by the other Multilateral Development Banks.

Aside from his endeavours at the World Bank Group in Washington DC, Lee has secured two complete and one caveated immunity arrangement with the Asian Development Bank’s Office of Anti-Corruption and Integrity (“OAI”) in Manila.  Such is his reputation in this area of international law and practice that Lee was selected and instructed in 2013 by the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Division (“IACD”) of the African Development Bank to essentially prosecute under its Sanctions Procedures (and in challenging circumstances) the largest and most significant corruption case in the Bank’s history.  In doing so, Lee is working closely with officers and prosecutors at the US Securities and Exchange Commission.  The case in question remains on-going.

Lee has great experience, if a settlement is negotiated and concluded, in constructing and leading teams of lawyers and investigators to undertake the work necessary to ensure that the company fulfils its obligations. His skill involves reviewing the company’s books and records and producing all of the required reports; as well as undertaking the essential internal investigations to the level expected by the Multilateral Development Bank community and will comply with the standards set in 2006 by the IFI Anti-Corruption Task Force of which he was previously a member and contributor.  Lee developed and implemented the BWL Investigative Methodology that now serves to maximise the immunities granted to companies under Negotiated Resolution Agreements that he has been instrumental in brokering.  Investigative disclosures to the banks under all of the internal investigations that he has either led or conducted on behalf of the companies that he represents have never resulted in additional sanctions.  Legal Professional Privilege (or Attorney-Client Privilege) attaches to the advice that Lee and the Bretton Woods Law team give to the company, which is a significant protection.  Lee’s work in this area has recently been held by an anti-corruption unit of a major Multilateral Development Bank to be “gold-standard” and the company that he represents is now regarded as the ‘benchmark’ for how other sanctioned companies perform under Negotiated Resolution Agreements.  As part of his work in ensuring that his clients fulfil their NRA commitments, Lee designs and implements integrity compliance programmes that reach and exceed the standards set by the World Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Guidelines.   What is more, Lee is regularly engaged to provide corporate governance advice and practical, cost efficient solutions to companies and other entities that remain exposed to the risks of corruption and fraud. He has, for example, drafted industry specific Integrity Compliance Programs, including statement of values and codes of conduct; devised whistle blowing and financial disclosure regimes; designed full ethics and disciplinary processes and procedures, which meet and exceed exacting international compliance standards (such as, for example, those set by the World Bank Group’s Integrity Compliance Guidelines); and he has produced sanctions policies and procedures for the largest of organisations.

Lee re-entered private practice at the beginning of 2009 from the World Bank Group’s anti-corruption office in Washington DC (“INT”), where, as the Director of Operations, he successfully led a large multinational team of lawyers and investigators that investigated and prosecuted before the Bank’s Sanctions Board those companies and individuals charged with sanctionable practices on World Bank financed projects.  Lee restructured INT and in so doing created and staffed the Special Litigation Unit (“the SLU”), which reported to him and which remains responsible within the World Bank Group for preparing and advancing sanctions cases to the Office of the Evaluations and Suspensions Officer and beyond to the Sanctions Board.  Before moving to INT, Lee performed a similar role for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.  He therefore knows and understands the MDB investigative and prosecutorial community and is a master of its practices and procedures.

Lee has an enviable reputation for resolving sanctions cases in situations where others would fail.  Whether the sanctions case is settled or contested, Lee guides the accused company through the labyrinth of the Multilateral Development Banks’ internal laws and procedures in order to ensure the best achievable result, both within the Multilateral Development Bank and outside.  If necessary, Lee is capable of handling all of the consequences of a referral of matters by the Multilateral Development Bank to national law enforcement authorities, such as the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, the City of London Police, the US Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission.  He is also highly adept at advising companies who no longer wish to pay bribes and yet who fear the consequences of disclosing their past wrongdoing.  To this end, he has a comprehensive understanding of Voluntary Disclosure Programmes, such as the program operated by the World Bank Group.

International Employment Law

International administrative law (“IAL”) is the employment law of the international organisations and Lee is on any view in the vanguard of this area of practise globally.  He is a “thought leader” in this field and he is accredited with both professionalizing the representation of international civil servants and creating a specialist IAL team at BWL whose reputation is now unsurpassable.

Lee enjoys a well-established and thriving IAL practice that is based on a decade of employment as a lawyer within the community of international organisations. He has been employed variously by the United Nations (e.g., UNRWA in Gaza), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (initially in the Institutional & Administrative Law Team and then latterly as the Deputy Chief Compliance Officer) and the World Bank Group.  Whilst at the EBRD, he appeared regularly and successfully for the organisation before its Administrative Tribunal (see e.g., the case of Mr C v. EBRD (EBRDAT 01/03), which remains one of the pivotal international administrative law cases on eligibility for expatriate benefits).  Lee has a reputation as an excellent draftsman and he is well known for the thoroughness and eloquence of his written work and he has in the past been commended for his pleadings by a key judicial figure within the international administrative law community.

Lee is currently representing numerous international civil servants in various disputes around the world in international organisations as varied at the Asian Development Bank, the EBRD, the Inter American Development Bank, the International Coffee Organisation and the International Maritime Organisation.  He presently has class actions underway in the EBRD and at the Inter American Development Bank.  He appears regularly before Grievance Committees, Joint Appeals Boards, Joint Disciplinary Boards and Dispute, Appeal and Administrative Tribunals.  Such is his reputation in this field that he is not only instructed by international civil servants, but also by international organisations, which ensures that his advice and counsel remains balanced.  He acts, for example, as an adviser to the Commonwealth Secretariat and has since 2012 represented the Secretariat on several occasions, including the design of its new internal justice system.

As a CEDR Accredited Mediator, Lee also acts as a mediation advocate in circumstances where his client’s case is amenable to alternative dispute resolution or where an attempt at such resolution is a mandatory requirement.  Moreover, he has a long history of successfully brokering Mutually Agreed Separations (MAS or MAT) for his clients that meet or exceed their expectations.  As an expert in international organisations law, Lee has an abiding understanding of the immunities enjoyed by those organisations and has proved on more than one occasion that the immunities are not infallible and that they can and will be set aside if they prove incompatible with the principles of international human rights laws.  Lee routinely advances litigation strategies designed to imperil an international organisation’s immunity from legal suit, which often leads to a settlement of the underlying complaint outside of the parameters of the organisation’s internal justice system.

Lee not only represents individual staff members, but also the unions to which they belong, such as the EBRD Staff Council, the IADB Staff Association and the PAHO Staff Association.  He is instructed by those unions to review and critique policies advanced by the organisations’ respective management that affect their employees.  He is a lawyer who is recognised for providing sensible and above all pragmatic employment law advice to international civil servants around the world, whilst creating bespoke and effective strategies to resolve their employment disputes.

Lee is committed to improving the internal justice systems of international organisations for the benefit of international civil servants and, to this end, he devised and drove the creation of the International Administrative Law Centre of Excellence.  He sits as the co-chair of the Centre’s Executive Committee and he moderated the Centre’s inaugural two-day international conference in October 2013.  He is a regular speaker at international administrative law events, such as The Hague gathering of Staff Associations and the annual BWL training events in Geneva and Vienna.  Most recently he was invited by the Secretariat of the IMF’s Administrative Tribunal to speak at the Tribunal’s 20th Anniversary Conference in Washington DC.

Rule of Law IHL and Human Rights

Lee has decades of experience in advising on international humanitarian law, human rights and rule of law issues.  In 1991, Lee was commissioned after training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (“RMAS”) as a Lieutenant in the Army Legal Corps of the British Army and rose over time to hold the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  During his service as a military lawyer, Lee deployed to numerous theatres of operations, including Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor and advised commanders and United Nations representatives on a spectrum of humanitarian and rule of law issues.  In East Timor, Lee is accredited with devising an emergency Rule of Law system at a time when no such system existed and the country risked descending into lawlessness.  For two years, Lee was the senior military lawyer advising the United Kingdom’s Chief of Joint Operations, as well as the commander of the United Kingdom’s Deployable Joint Force Headquarters.  He was regarded as an authority on the jus ad bellum and jus in bello and his advice was relied upon at the highest level of the Ministry of Defence and beyond.  He holds a masters degree in public international law from the University of London and is a graduate of the San Remo International Institute of International Humanitarian Law and the University of Liverpool’s Advanced Law of War course.  Lee lectured regularly on humanitarian, human rights and rule of law issues at inter alia the RMAS, Staff College and the Higher Command and Staff Course.

On leaving the British Army, Lee was appointed as UNRWA’s Chief of its International law Division based in the Gaza Strip in the Palestinian Occupied territories.  Amongst many other human rights initiatives, Lee designed and implemented the Operational Support Officer Programme, which till this day continues to operate in Gaza and in the West Bank as an effective human rights verification regime.

Lee leads the BWL Rule of Law and IHL Teams, which advise States and International Governmental Organisations on how to improve the judicial and human rights systems in the countries in which they operate or that they rule or govern.  As the team leader and with a view to strengthening and improving rule of law systems, Lee also designs and delivers anti-corruption and fraud training, including compliance with international and national anti-corruption laws, at all levels around the world to private companies, public and international organizations, and anti-corruption agencies. He has previously advised, with notable success, anti-corruption agencies in developing countries and collapsed states on how to improve the prospects of obtaining evidence and ultimately convictions on indictments containing charges of corruption and fraud against public officials and others. Lee has also advised governments in collapsed, newly formed and developing states on how to implement viable and sustainable systems of criminal justice, which, at their core, attack the problems caused by corrupt and fraudulent activity.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Lee Marler is a known expert in international organisations law and in particular International Administrative Law (“IAL”), which is the employment law of the international organisations.  What is more, Lee is CEDR trained and an accredited mediator who has the ability to broker settlement agreements in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.  Although a school of thought exists that mediators do not need to have expert knowledge or subject matter expertise, it of course assists greatly if they do.  This is where Lee has the distinct advantage over so many other mediators, for he does have the necessary International Administrative Law expertise and experience and it is this skill-set that enables him to mediate successfully the most complex of international employment disputes faced by the parties.

Lee is open to and welcomes instruction as a mediator, or as a lawyer representing parties in mediation, in the ADR processes operated by the various international organisations around the world, as well as mediation more generally.  Lee was recently instructed, for example, to act as the mediator in the mediation of a dispute between the UK’s Ministry of Defence and a former British Army officer.


Lee was born and educated in England, studied for a period in Africa and spent many years working internationally as a lawyer, including America, Australia, Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo and Palestine. As well as holding a Bachelors degree in law (LLB(Hons)), Lee has two Masters Degrees (LLMs), one awarded by the University of London in international law and the second awarded cum laude by the University of Stellenbosch in the law of evidence. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a member of Lincoln’s Inn in 1987. Lee served for several years as a legal officer in the British Army, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel for his last two years of service. He has worked as a lawyer for the United Nations, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank Group. He is a member of the International Bar Association and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.

Lee is a Director and General Counsel of Equilibrium Gulf and Global, companies established in 2013 by General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB, CBE DSO ADC Gen to provide geo-strategic advice and guidance to governments and companies.