Courtenay is a solicitor-advocate (England and Wales) and an attorney (California). He has a masters in human rights law. He has a wide-ranging practice with particular specialisms in commercial, employment and discrimination law.
From 2000 to 2006, he originally specialised in high-value, complex construction litigation, both domestic and international, conducting advocacy arbitrations and expert determinations.
During this period, he also developed a pro bono human rights practice including representing one of the joint applicants in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) case challenging Trinidad’s use of the mandatory death penalty: Hilaire, Constantine and Benjamin et al. v. Trinidad and Tobago, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of June 21, 2002. Series C No. 94. He also spent a sabbatical working in South Carolina, USA, on death penalty and freedom of speech/assembly cases.
Since 2007, he has specialised full time in human rights, with a focus on employment and discrimination law, where he has acted as litigator and/or advocate in numerous employment tribunals. His most recent discrimination case was decided in May 2013 which found that the Metropolitan Police had committed 41 counts of discrimination against his client: Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Kevin Maxwell, UKEAT/0232/12/MC
He has been additional counsel on two US Supreme Court Amicus Curiae Briefs in relation to life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders (January 2012) and the length of time on death row amounting to cruel and unusual punishment (September 2011).
Courtenay has also developed extensive experience in legal development and international law reform, for example:
Algeria – He acts as an expert adviser to the UK Ministry of Justice regarding justice sector reform in Algeria, including carrying out an in-country fact-finding visit in September 2012 and organising/leading in-country mission and training programme in March 2013;
Colombia – led a fact-finding delegation to Colombia in 2008, met with Colombian President in November 2011 regarding human rights and law reform. Co-authored an academic article in Colombia on how investment treaty protections can interfere with governments’ ability to regulate social issues, e.g. human rights;
Mexico – in 2011 he co-authored a report for the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers on attacks on lawyers and compliance with IACtHR judgments. As a result he was invited to Geneva to present his findings at a meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur during the XVI session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Oral and written evidence in UK Parliament to Conservative Party Commission on Human Rights regarding lawyers at risk worldwide.
Courtenay is a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales.