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Daniel Leader


International human rights, business human rights and corporate accountability lawyer

Corporate accountability Diesel emissions claims Environment Group claims Human rights International litigation

Dan Leader specialises in international human rights and environmental law, with a particular focus on business and human rights.   He has extensive experience of cases against parent companies, complex group actions and mass tort claims, as well as cross-border disputes and jurisdictional issues.

Dan has a longstanding interest in public policy in business and human rights and was external expert member of the UK Government Steering Board which oversees the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2014-17).  Since 2018 he has been a Board Member of the Corporate Responsibility Coalition (CORE).   He is a member of the Steering Committee of the comparative law project on civil liability for human rights violations at the Bonavero Institute, Oxford University and a member of the Advisory Board of the British Institute for International and Comparative Law’s Human Rights Due Diligence Forum.  He writes and speaks widely about business and human rights issues at conferences and universities in Britain and internationally.   

Dan was educated at Oxford University where he obtained a first class degree, and has an LLM (distinction) in international law from UCL.   He has extensive experience in Africa and has lived in Kenya and Congo (DRC) where he worked with local lawyers on strategic litigation and access to justice issues.   In 2001 he was awarded the Bar Council’s Sydney Elland Goldsmith award for his pro bono work in Africa.   

What people say 

Daniel Leader is renowned for landmark international human rights and environmental law litigation. The London-based lawyer routinely represents clients in civil claims against corporations and their subsidiaries in relation to large-scale human rights abuses. A source says: "Not many lawyers carry this combination of commitment and expertise - particularly for international cases with a strong human rights character." - Chambers and Partners Global Directory 2021

'Daniel Leader "comes from a very different angle, working a lot on the ground in countries." He is recognised in the market for leading high-profile cases, including at Supreme Court level.' - Chambers and Partners Global Directory 2020

What the directories say

Above all, Dan is incredibly principled and takes a 'no man left behind' approach to litigation. He is a very fierce and passionate defender of what he thinks is right.

Chambers and partners 2024

Legal expertise

His recent cases include:

  • Rihan v EY Global Ltd [2020].  A whistle-blowing claim on behalf of a former EY partner who refused to sanction a cover up of audit findings of money laundering and conflict minerals in the Dubai Gold trade.
  • Lungowe v Vedanta plc [2019] (with Martyn Day and Oliver Holland).  Claims on behalf of 1,826 Zambian farmers arising out of damage to the environment caused by harmful discharges from the Konkola copper mine.  The Supreme Court set out the jurisdictional principles in cross-border claims against parent companies.   
  • Okpabi v Royal Dutch Shell plc [2018].  Claims on behalf of two Nigerian communities arising from systemic oil pollution by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary.  
  • AAA v. Unilever plc [2018].  A case on behalf of 218 Kenyan tea workers who contend that Unilever failed to protect them from the foreseeable risk of ethnic violence in 2007.  
  • AAA v. Gemfields Ltd [2019]  A claim by 300 individuals for personal injury arising out of serious human rights abuses on and around a ruby mine in northern Mozambique. 
  • The Bodo Community v. Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd [2015] (with Martyn Day). A claim by a community of 30,000 Nigerians for compensation and remediation of their lands arising out of extensive oil spills in the Niger Delta which settled for £55m in 2015. 

Other cases include the landmark “Mau Mau litigation” (Mutua v FCO [2013])  which resulted in reparations for 5,000 victims of colonial era torture at the hands of the British colonial authorities, the Baha Mousa Inquiry [2010] into torture by the British Army in Iraq and claims by UK residents detained in Guantanamo Bay against airlines for complicity in rendition (Binyan Mohamed v Jeppesen [2009]).  

What the directories say

Daniel Leader is a superb lawyer who is committed, knowledgeable and flexible in thought - he is a complete star. He is an outstanding lawyer and a real class act.

Chambers and partners 2022

Dan Leader publications and news 


News Article
Crater To Store Oil, Dug By Shell At Ogale

High Court rules Nigerian communities can bring landmark human rights claims against Shell for oil pollution

The High Court has ruled that 13,000 Nigerian fishermen and farmers at the centre of a major oil pollution case against Shell can bring claims for breaches of their right to a clean environment under Nigerian constitutional law. If the case succeeds at trial, it will be the first time in legal history that a UK multinational will have been found to have breached a communities’ right to a clean environment.

News Article
Tea Plantation (1)
United Nations Unilever

UN and coalition of NGOs write to Unilever to voice deep concern regarding victims of violence at Unilever tea plantation

The United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and five United Nations Special Rapporteurs have written to Unilever Plc, expressing their deep concern about the lack of access to justice and an effective remedy provided by Unilever to a group of (former) Unilever workers who were brutally assaulted on a Unilever tea plantation.

News Article
High Court
International International human rights

United Nations’ letter to European Commission over UK’s exclusion from Lugano Convention

International human rights lawyers have welcomed a move by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UN) to ask the European Commission (EC) to justify its position on excluding the United Kingdom (UK) from the cross-border legal cooperation international treaty, the “Lugano Convention”.

Case Study
Boat Bodo Creek Feb 2014
Corporate accountability Environment Shell Nigeria Pollution

Shell - Bodo

Leigh Day took the case of the Bodo villagers to the High Court in London, four months before the case was due to go to trial, Shell agreed a landmark settlement for £55 million

Case Study
Kenyan clients outside the High Court
International Human rights Torture

The Mau Mau claims

Leigh Day acted on behalf of 5,000 Kenyan nationals who were subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the British colonial administration during the Kenya Emergency in the 1950s.