Adam Payter


Year of Call



Described as a “go to junior”, Adam is much in demand in the fields of complex criminal litigation, investigations, extradition, inquests and inquiries and related areas of public law. He is described in the 2020 legal directories as “an eloquent advocate who commands respect from the bench”; “really user-friendly”; extremely hard-working and very responsive; he “quickly gains the trust of clients”; “produces excellent written work”; and “raises extremely important points early on”.

“His advocacy is flawless and very persuasive.  He carries with him a wealth of specialist knowledge which he is able to apply to any given case.”

Chambers & Partners

His recent high-profile work includes the criminal proceedings arising from the Hillsborough tragedy; representing families in the inquests and public inquiry into the Manchester arena terror attack; the successful defence of a company subject to a private prosecution for fraud; the first judicial review challenge to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement; representing company directors whose extradition is sought by the Russian Federation; and pre-charge advice in relation to the Grenfell tower fire.


  • Fraud
  • Corporate Crime and Investigations
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Health and Safety
  • Restraint, Confiscation and Asset Forfeiture
  • Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance
  • Inquests and Public Inquiries
  • Public and Administrative Law
  • Prison law and the Parole Board
  • Disciplinary Tribunals
  • International Criminal Work

Adam is recognised in the Legal 500 2020 as a leading fraud practitioner who is “flexible, approachable and hardworking”; “able to get to grips with complex underlying material very quickly” with a “a great knowledge of the SFO”.  In recent years, he has acted in seven SFO cases, including two of the first Deferred Prosecution Agreement matters.  The issues have included concurrent Department of Justice proceedings; non-prosecution agreements in the USA and immunity or leniency agreements pursuant to SOCPA 2005.

Adam’s SFO experience includes:

  • Defending the former Head of Sales of Güralp Systems Limited accused of conspiracy to make corrupt payments to a South Korean public official between 2002 and 2015 (R v Natalie Pearce & Otrs).
  • The first challenge to a DPA (AL v SFO [2018] EWHC 856).
  • The first case brought by the SFO under the Bribery Act 2010 and related confiscation proceedings. The case concerned a ‘Ponzi’ fraud involving the sale by the Sustainable Growth Group of biofuel investments in jatropha tree plantations in Cambodia (SFO v Whale, West & Stone [2016] EWCA Crim 742).
  • A judicial review claim seeking a mandatory order to terminate an SFO investigation, which raised issues under Article 8 ECHR and the EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings (R (Soma Oil & Gas) v SFO [2016] EWHC 2471; CL&J 2016, 180(40)).
  • A similar claim in relation to the SFO’s investigation into possible money laundering arising from suspicions of corruption in Ukraine following the regime change in 2014 (Zlochevskyi v SFO).
  • A judicial review challenge to a section 2 notice issued to an individual as part of the SFO’s investigation into ENRC Ltd.
  • Case counsel in the SFO’s ongoing investigation into Ethical Forestry Ltd.

Adam is also experienced in investigations and proceedings brought by other prosecuting agencies.  His experience includes:

  • Restraint proceedings brought by the FCA as part of its investigation into an alleged collective investment scheme and the fraudulent misleading of investors.
  • Successfully defending a company and its sole director in a private prosecution brought by another company for fraud offences in relation to a cholesterol-reducing cheese (LoCol) sold in the major supermarkets (JMC Foods Ltd v Angel Technology Ltd).
  • Representing the ex-Mayor of Glastonbury and former director of Crown Current Exchange, one of the UK’s largest personal currency exchange businesses, accused of fraudulent trading (R v Edward James).
  • Overseas corruption in Saudi Arabia in the heat treatment industry and related money laundering (R v Oliver & Greenaway).
  • Acting for major international companies in relation to criminal allegations of voicemail interception, corruption and misuse of private information (Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta); and investigations into overseas corruption (GSK and Alstom).

Adam is experienced in all manner of general criminal matters from multi-handed murder trials to terrorism cases.  He is noted to be a “very skillful and thoughtful advocate” (Chambers & Partners 2020) and as showing “great insight and tactical awareness about how to achieve the best result” (Legal 500 2019).  His recent work includes:

  • The prosecution of a lawyer and two police officers for perverting the course of justice in relation to the 1989 Hillsborough stadium tragedy (R v Metcalf, Denton & Foster).
  • The prosecution of two police officers following the shooting of a suspect in Wimbledon: (R v NX1 & MY55).
  • The prosecution of a police officer for perverting the course of justice by encouraging the victim of an assault to accept a bribe from the perpetrators: (R v Hopkins).
  • The first cases arising out of the ‘horsemeat scandal’ (R v Boddy & Moss; R v Raw-Rees & Patterson).
  • The prosecution of ISIS supporters for funding terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications: R v Mohammed & Nurhussein
  • Securing the acquittal of an Extinction Rebellion protestor for criminal damage on the basis she had a lawful excuse.
  • Successfully representing DSEI arms fair protestors arguing they acted in the prevention of crime (R v Ditchfield & Otrs [2017] EWHC 1794 (Admin)).
  • A successful stated case appeal against the conviction of protestors who blocked the road into AWE Burghfield in an action against Trident renewal (Carter-Brown & Otrs v CPS [2017] EWHC 1955 (QB)).
  • Securing the acquittal of a defendant accused of murder in a double gangland shooting (R v Atkinson & Otrs).
  • A murder trial concerning the ‘householder defence’.
  • A leading authority on the scope of the offence of child abduction (R v Shepherd [2017] EWHC 2566 (Admin)).
  • The prosecution of a serving police officer forperverting the course of justice by encouraging the victim of an assault to accept a bribe from the perpetrators (R v Hopkins).
  • Advising a major international charity on its compliance with UK terrorism legislation.

Adam is “a go-to junior in mutual legal assistance and extradition work” (Legal 500 2019) who is “impressive and tenacious” and “a very bright and formidable opponent” (Chambers and Partners 2019).  As a result, he has a thriving extradition practice acting for requested persons, judicial authorities and foreign governments in the most “difficult extradition matters” (Chambers and Partners 2020).

His experience includes:

  • A successful Divisional Court appeal against extradition to the Russian Federation: Shmatko v The RF [2018] EWHC 3534 (Admin). The issues included political persecution, judicial independence, corporate raiding, prison conditions and allegations of torture.
  • Securing the discharge of the former CEO of Oboronenergosbyt JSC – the sole supplier of electricity to the Russian Ministry of Defence – wanted in the Russian Federation for embezzlement (RF v Alexander Zmikhnovskiy).
  • Acting for company directors wanted in India for allegations of fraud in relation to the operation and sale of a well-known rice export business: (RF v India v Awasty).
  • A request following an alleged multi-billion pound bribery scheme concerning Eskom, Africa’s largest utility company, arising from an on going public enquiry into ‘state capture’ and corruption in South Africa: RSA v Lomas.
  • Securing the discharge of a Greek academic following his conviction for the ‘criminal slander’ of politicians: Greece v Diakomanolis.
  • Acting on behalf of Shane Looker wanted in Thailand for murder.
  • Advising in relation to extradition proceedings linked to the SFO’s second DPA case (SFO v XYZ Ltd).
  • Acting on behalf of the former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands in a cross-jurisdictional application for judicial review that sought to challenge an extradition request made by the Governor of a British Overseas Territory to Switzerland in the UK courts (R (Syed) v Governor of the Cayman Islands).
  • A habeas corpus application for an individual who was extradited from Spain to the UK subject to a re-trial guarantee, which the UK could not and did not observe (Tague v Governor of HMP Full Sutton [2015] EWHC 3576; Crim LR 2016, 6, 418-421).
  • Article 3 ECHR prison conditions arguments, including the leading cases on the Latvian (Brazuks [2014] EWHC 1021) and Romanian prison estates (Florea [2014] EWHC 2528 Admin; Times, August 14, 2014), as well as cases concerning detention in Brazil, Russia, Albania, Macedonia, Canada, Estonia, Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
  • The leading Divisional Court case on the correct approach to Article 8 ECHR and the standard of review on appeal (Celinski [2015] EWHC 1274).
  • Key cases arising from the recent legislative changes to the Extradition Act 2003, including the new proportionality bar (Miraszewski [2014] EWHC 4261) and forum (Belbin [2015] EWHC 149).

Adam is experienced in mutual legal assistance matters including multi-jurisdictional disclosure issues.  He is well-versed in challenging INTERPOL red notices.

He has lectured at City firms on the impact of the new forum bar on cross-jurisdictional fraud cases and the proposed UK opt-out from EU criminal justice measures.  He is an author of EU Law in Criminal Practice (Oxford University Press).

His publications include ‘Recent developments in extradition law – some practical implications’ Crim LR 2015, 7, 504-521; ‘Extradition law – recent developments and the potential impact of Brexit’ Crim LR 2016, 10, 743-764; ‘Extradition Update: Absence of Prosecution Decisions, the Forum Bar, Prison Conditions and the Right to a Fair Trial’ Crim LR 2019, 1, 17-31.

Adam regularly acts for regulators, companies and individuals in relation to health and safety matters. He has significant expertise in food safety cases. His experience includes:

Adam is currently acting for key Core Participants in two major public inquiries.

Adam has experience of Article 2 ECHR inquests, acting for bereaved families, those at risk of criticism and regulators (including the Office of Rail and Road, Care Quality Commission and Highways England).  His experience includes:

  • Acting for families in the inquests and public inquiry arising from the Manchester Arena terror attack on 22 May 2017.
  • Acting for Pret a Manger following an alleged allergy-related death.
  • Acting for a key witness in the inquest into the death of Pt. Sean Benton at Deepcut Barracks in 1995.
  • Acting for the family in an inquest into the death of a serving solider at Beachley Barracks in 2017.
  • Successfully acting on behalf of a family seeking an order to exhume the body of relative for an autopsy following a death in suspicious circumstances.
  • Representing a cosmetic surgeon at an inquest into the death of a patient following treatment at a private clinic.
  • Acting in an inquest following the death of a man who had been sectioned and died from a condition related to his mental health diagnosis.
  • Representing a family at an inquest into the death of a disabled man who had been in police custody and the care of two NHS Trusts.
  • Acting for the family of a man who died at night in prison in which concerns were raised about the quality of prison healthcare and the level of care provided by the prison guards at night.

Adam was previously employed by Liberty to advise members of the public on civil liberties and all aspects of the Human Rights Act 1998.  He advised on issues including data protection; prison law; actions against the police; the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; inquests and the right to peaceful protest. He was formerly an elected member of Liberty’s Policy Council.

Adam has a flourishing public law practice. In addition to the judicial review challenges to decisions of the SFO (set out above), his experience includes:

  • Advising on a judicial review claim following the IOPC’s investigation into the conduct of MPS police officers responsible for investigating allegations made by Carl Beech (aka ‘Nick’).
  • • A judicial review challenge to a prisoner’s status following transfer from Thailand: Neville v SSJ [2021] EWHC 957.
  • A judicial review challenge to the imposition of an exclusion zone as part of licence conditions.
  • A successful judicial review challenge to a police decision to disclose intelligence data to an employer following an enhanced DBS check.
  • Advising on a judicial review claim following the Secretary of State’s refusal to allow a prisoner access to artificial insemination facilities.
  • Advising a prisoner on a judicial review claim following the Secretary of State’s decision to detain him in the restrictive regime of a Closed Supervision Centre.
  • Advising on a claim for damages under the Human Rights Act 1998 following a breach of the requirement for a trial within a reasonable time.
  • Advising on a claim for damages for false imprisonment and misfeasance in a public office following an alleged failure by the NCA to inform Westminster Magistrates’ Court that an EAW had been withdrawn.
  • Advising a company on a challenge to search warrants obtained by the police to search the company’s offices.
  • Successfully appealing a decision by the CICA to the First-Tier Tribunal on the basis that the 2012 criminal injuries compensation scheme imposed a retrospective obligation to report the crime to the police and did not guarantee “fair and appropriate compensation for victims” within the meaning of the relevant EU Directive.

Adam is instructed by individual registrants, unions (e.g. RCN and MDU) and regulators (e.g. NMC, GMC and BSB) in the full range of fitness to practise hearings including conduct, competence, and health cases, High Court applications and registration appeals.  Examples of Adam’s experience include cases concerning the death of a patient in a care home; the sexual exploitation of patients with mental health issues; allegations of dishonesty and medication overdoses.

In 2008, Adam was a Judicial Assistant to the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  He worked on the case of Popovic et al. (IT-05-88), the seven-handed genocide case concerning the Srebrenica massacre.

  • Attorney General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (C Panel)
  • Crown Prosecution Service – General Crime, Serious Crime, Fraud, Terrorism and Extradition panels (Level 3)
  • Serious Fraud Office – Prosecution (B List)
  • List of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in Health and Safety and Environmental Law (B Panel)
  • Justice of the Peace, Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court (2008-2011)

In 2015, Adam was nominated for the Sydney Elland Goldsmith Bar Pro Bono Award, in recognition of outstanding commitment to pro bono work.  He is now a Bar Pro Bono Unit case reviewer.

During his studies, Adam was awarded the Lincoln’s Inn Wolfson Scholarship, Hardwicke Award and Buchanan Prize. During pupillage, Adam won the Kalisher Essay Competition 2010, with an entry entitled: “Should a defendant be given the right to opt out and be tried by judge alone or judge and lay assessors?”

Adam has experience of providing pre-publication advice on aspects of media law, including defamation, copyright, privacy and confidence and reporting restrictions.

Adam is qualified to accept direct instructions from individuals and companies.

  • Former Treasurer and Chair of the Young Fraud Lawyers’ Association.
  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association; Fraud Lawyers’ Association; Extradition Lawyers’ Association; Defence Extradition Lawyers’ Forum; Fair Trials International’s European Young Defenders’ Network, INQUEST Lawyers’ Group, Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers.
  • Cardiff Law School Bar Vocational Course (Outstanding);
  • Awarded the Lincoln’s Inn Wolfson Scholarship, Hardwicke Award & Buchanan Prize;
  • Winner of the Kalisher Essay Competition 2010;
  • University of Nottingham, LLB (Hons), Law.

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Notable cases

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