Portrait of Professor Nick Grief

Professor Nick Grief

Dean for Medway


Nick has a BA in Law with a Language (French) and a PhD in International Law, both from Kent, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Before returning to Kent in 2010, he taught at Bournemouth University (1998-2009, including 8 years as Head of School) and the University of Exeter (1979-1997, including 2 years as Head of the Law Department). He has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law and is a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton.
In 2007 Nick gave evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee on the legal implications of the White Paper on ‘The future of the United Kingdom’s strategic nuclear deterrent’. In the 1990s he was closely involved in the World Court Project (notably as the author of a legal memorandum entitled ‘The World Court Project on Nuclear Weapons and International Law’) which led to the ICJ's Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons in July 1996.
For many years Nick delivered EU law training for the Government Legal Service, the Financial Conduct Authority and the National Assembly for Wales, and from 1999 to 2008 he was joint editor of the European Human Rights Reports. He is on the editorial board of The International Journal of Human Rights (Routledge).

Research interests

Nick is collaborating with Kent colleague and internationally acclaimed visual artist Shona Illingworth (School of Music and Fine Art) on a major international project, the Airspace Tribunal, advocating the recognition of a new human right to protect the freedom to exist without physical or psychological threat from above.


Nicks teaching responsibilities span across EU Law and Undergraduate and Postgraduate supervision.


Nick is happy to supervise in the following areas:

  • Public international law, especially international humanitarian law, international criminal law, air and space law
  • Human rights, especially the right to protest and conscientious objection to the payment of taxes for military purposes
  • EU law, especially the protection of fundamental rights


Nick practises as a barrister from Doughty Street Chambers, London (https://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/barristers/profile/professor-nick-grief). From April 2014 to October 2016 he was a member of the legal team which represented the Marshall Islands before the International Court of Justice in nuclear disarmament cases against India, Pakistan and the UK. Other notable cases in which he has appeared as counsel include R v Margaret Jones and Paul Milling, Bristol Crown Court, September 2006 (in which the defendants were charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage at RAF Fairford on the eve of the Iraq war), R v Jones and others [2006] UKHL 16 (on whether the crime of aggression was capable of being a crime in domestic law) and A and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) [2005] UKHL 71 (on the admissibility of evidence procured by torture of a third party by foreign agents). He has also been instructed as an expert witness on International law and EU law.



  • Grief, N., Illingworth, S., Hoskins, A. and Conway, M. (2018). The Airspace Tribunal: Towards a New Human Right to Protect the Freedom to Exist Without Physical or Psychological Threat from Above. European Human Rights Law Review:201-207.
  • Grief, N. (2014). Enforcing the London 2012 Airspace Restrictions: lessons arising from the “lethal force option.” European Human Rights Law Review:142-153.
  • Grief, N. (2011). Nuclear weapons: the legal status of use, threat and possession. Nuclear Abolition Forum [PDF]:7-13. Available at: http://www.abolitionforum.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/NAF-First-issue.online-version.pdf.
  • Grief, N. and Losy, A. (2010). The Montreal Convention 1999: an increase in the limits of liability. Journal of Business Law:529-532.
  • Grief, N. (2007). EU Law and Security. European Law Review:752-765.
  • Grief, N. (2007). Using Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights as a defence to criminal proceedings arising from non-violent direct action against nuclear weapons: the relevance of international law. International Journal of Human Rights [Online] 11:327-347. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13642980701443566.
    This paper explores the application of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, in the context of criminal proceedings arising from non-violent direct action by protesters against nuclear weapons. It does so with reference to the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion in the Nuclear Weapons Case, Strasbourg case law, and domestic cases in which individuals were prosecuted for causing damage at military bases. It argues that since the rule of law is a fundamental principle of a democratic society, interference by a State with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression cannot be ‘necessary in a democratic society’ for the purposes of Article 10(2) unless it is shown to be consistent with the State's obligations under international law. It also reveals the potentially powerful interaction of national law, international law, and the European Convention. This is particularly important in the light of recent remarks about the limits of self-help and civil disobedience.
  • Grief, N. (2006). The exclusion of foreign torture evidence: a qualified victory for the rule of law. European Human Rights Law Review.

Book section

  • Grief, N. (2011). Deterrence: The Legal Context. In: Johnson, R. and Zelter, A. eds. Trident and International Law. Luath Press, pp. 172-176.
  • Grief, N. (2008). The domestic reach of general principles of law: First City Trading revisited. In: Barnard, C. ed. Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies. Oxford, England: Hart Publishing, pp. 199-214.
  • Grief, N. (2008). The Iraq War: Issues of International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law. In: Williams, A. and Shiner, P. eds. The Iraq War and International Law. Oxford: Hart Publishing, pp. 95-116.
  • Grief, N. (2008). The "War Crimes" and "International Criminal Law" entries. In: Cane, P. and Conaghan, J. eds. The New Oxford Companion to Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Grief, N. (2006). Is Britain’s continued possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons illegal?. In: Booth, K. and Barnaby, F. eds. The Future of Britain’s Nuclear Weapons: Experts Reframe the Debate. Oxford: Oxford Research Group, Current Decisions Report, pp. 41-48.
  • Grief, N. (2004). British Quakers, the Peace Tax and International Law. In: Janis, M. W. and Evans, C. eds. Religion and International Law. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, pp. 339-356.


  • Mezhi Mejbel Mezhi Bathal Alrashedi, A. (2017). In the Context of Both International Law and the Application of Islamic Sharia Law, How Effective Have Kuwait and the Kuwaiti Legal System Been in Addressing, Preventing and Combating Human Trafficking?.
    This thesis answers the question of how effective Kuwait and the Kuwaiti legal system have been in addressing, preventing, and combating human trafficking in the context of both international law and the application of Islamic Sharia Law (ISL). The thesis is concerned with trafficking in persons with a particular focus on trafficking to exploit labour in Kuwait as compared to the five other Arab countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC countries are parties to the main international instrument that governs trafficking, namely the United Nations Trafficking Protocol 2000 (UNTP). The GCC countries also have ISL as one of their main sources of law. With particular reference to Kuwait in the context of the Gulf region, this thesis examines how national, international, and religious legal frameworks impact the fight against trafficking in the region, and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of current laws, such as anti-trafficking laws and labour laws. It also seeks to demonstrate the links between the principles of international law and ISL, as such an overlap can provide the basis for further reform in relation to the prevention of trafficking and increased protection for victims. The thesis also discusses trafficking in persons and labour exploitation in the context of criminal justice. The UK was selected as an example of a country that has addressed trafficking, in particular labour exploitation and how Kuwait can learn from the UK. The thesis also assesses the effectiveness of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in combating trafficking in persons, in particular women and children, which is recognised by Article 7(2) of the statute under the definition of an act of enslavement in the context of crimes against humanity. The thesis concludes by making recommendations for change at the national, regional, and international levels to strengthen cooperation in combating trafficking in persons, which is the modern form of slavery.
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