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
His recent cases include:
- Rihan v EY Global Ltd . 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  (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 . Claims on behalf of two Nigerian communities arising from systemic oil pollution by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary.
- AAA v. Unilever plc . 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  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  (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 ) which resulted in reparations for 5,000 victims of colonial era torture at the hands of the British colonial authorities, the Baha Mousa Inquiry  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 ).
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
- UN and coalition of NGOs write to Unilever to voice deep concern regarding victims of violence at Unilever tea plantation Solicitors Journal 26.9.23
- The developing legal landscape on parent company liability - corporate impunity drawing to a close? UCL Centre for Law and Environment 29.3.22
- Why the EU’s block on the UK’s accession to the Lugano Convention harms human rights by Daniel Leader Law Societies EU 24.11.21
- Okpabi v Shell and Four Nigerian Farmers v Shell: Parent Company Liability Back in Court Business Human Rights Journal 30.6.21
- Okpabi v Shell: The era of unbridled corporate impunity drawing to a close African Argument 18.3.21
- Chapter on legal redress in I am a man of peace : writings inspired by the Maynooth University Ken Saro-Wiwa Collection 2020
- The Mau Mau Litigation – Justice at Last Oxford Human Rights Hub 3.11.15
- The Kenyans tortured by the British must now be justly treated Guardian 5.10.12
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.
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.
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”.
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