Leila Gaafar


Year of Call



Leila became a member of chambers in 2021 following the successful completion of her pupillage. She accepts instructions in all areas of chambers practice.

Leila came to the Bar from a career as a solicitor. She trained and qualified at Slaughter and May, before spending five years in the London office of WilmerHale where she specialised in financial and ‘white collar’ crime. Leila therefore has particular experience representing both individual and corporate clients in large, complex financial crime cases. At the Bar, she continues to work on these matters, both as trial counsel and in an advisory capacity.


Leila undertakes a wide range of criminal work in both the magistrates’ and the Crown Court. Building on her previous experience as a solicitor, she is developing a reputation as an astute trial advocate, with excellent client management skills.

Leila is instructed as defence junior in a Serious Fraud Office prosecution for conspiracy to defraud and fraudulent trading, listed for a four-month trial at Southwark Crown Court. She is also instructed to defend in a number of general criminal Crown Court cases, including firearms offences, burglary and theft offences, offences against the person, fraud, and sexual offences.

In addition to Crown Court work, Leila prosecutes and defends in the magistrates’ court and the Youth Court. She has secured a number of acquittals for clients in the magistrates’ court, including those relying on defences such as self-defence, and ‘good reason’ for possession of bladed articles. She has particular experience – both when defending and prosecuting – of dealing with complex legal and evidential issues arising from the prosecution of road traffic offences, and she accepts private defence instructions in this area.

Leila’s commercial background – first as a City solicitor at Slaughter and May, and subsequently as a white collar criminal practitioner at WilmerHale – means she is exceptionally well-placed to take on a wide range of corporate criminal work.

Leila has experience representing corporates in a number of Serious Fraud Office investigations, including the investigation into Glencore plc. She has represented several organisations, including banks and other financial institutions, in proceedings before the Financial Conduct Authority. Leila has also worked on a number of investigations by overseas authorities, in particular the United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As a result of Leila’s depth of experience representing corporates, and her understanding of corporate structures and procedures, she is able to provide pragmatic and commercially-sensitive legal advice to these clients. Leila has particular experience advising on complex issues of legal professional privilege. At the Bar, she has provided standalone advice to corporate clients on these issues, including in the context of Serious Fraud Office investigations.

Leila represents a number of individuals charged with fraud, bribery and corruption. This includes high-profile, complex cases prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office.

Leila is instructed as junior counsel for a defendant in the Serious Fraud Office prosecution of fraud offences at Balli Group and Balli Steel. While working as a solicitor, Leila also represented Jean-Daniel Lainé, the former-Chief Compliance Officer of Alstom, who was charged with conspiracy to corrupt in relation to contracts secured by Alstom in Hungary. After a ten-week retrial, Mr Lainé was acquitted. Leila has represented suspects and witnesses in a number of other Serious Fraud Office investigations, including the investigations into British American Tobacco, Rolls Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, KBR, and Barclays.

In addition to her work for individuals, Leila represents corporate clients in these areas, both for standalone advisory work and on longer-running investigations and prosecutions. For more detail, see ‘Corporate crime’.

Leila has worked on a number of internal investigations for corporate clients, ranging in complexity, size and outcome. She has assisted corporate clients with investigations into financial criminal matters, general criminal matters, and regulatory issues. Many of these investigations involved suspected bribery, for example, a recent internal investigation involving an overseas subsidiary of a multinational, US-headquartered manufacturer. She also has experience advising corporates seeking to enter deferred prosecution agreement negotiations.

As a result of this depth of experience, Leila is able to advise and assist on all aspects of the investigation process, including evidence gathering and initial assessments of that evidence, complex questions of legal professional privilege, and self-reporting to domestic and overseas authorities.

  • LL.M., London School of Economics and Political Science (ongoing)
  • BA English and Modern Languages (French), Magdalen College, University of Oxford (First Class)
  • Graduate Diploma in Law, BPP University
  • Legal Practice Course, BPP University
  • Bar Transfer Test, BPP University
  • The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple
  • The Young Fraud Lawyers’ Association

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