Nichola Higgins

Year of Call

Nichola Higgins

“A junior with a strong record of acting in high-stakes corruption matters, who has an impressive corporate client base.  She is capable of handling both government and internal investigations, including those with a multi-jurisdictional reach”.


“Able to distil complex legal issues down to the salient points very quickly”


“She is bright, extremely hard-working and someone who has a real focus on the job in hand.  Her attention to detail is second to none and her judgment is spot on”.


“Aside from her obvious intelligence and remarkable memory, she is down-to-earth, pragmatic and very accessible”.



Leading junior Business and Regulatory Crime (including global investigations) Legal 500 (2018)


Ranked junior, Chambers UK: Financial Crime and general Crime (2018)


Featured in The Lawyer “Hot 100” (2013): the year's round up of 100 leading lawyers who are tipped to shape the profession. Click here to read the article.


Featured as a “rising star of the junior Bar”, Legal Week (2012)



Nichola’s in depth knowledge and experience of corporate crime and regulation comes from having defended, investigated and prosecuted some of the most complex and challenging allegations of corruption and fraud, both domestic and overseas, in recent years.  Having acted for all sides in this field, Nichola is able to bring a comprehensive perspective, allowing her to ‘get under the skin’ of a case and to provide insightful, tactical advice in relation to every aspect.


Nichola advises companies on their compliance procedures and has unique experience of advising an international corporation engaged in global projects on the practical features of the ‘adequate procedures’ defence under the Bribery Act 2010.  She has conducted cross-border investigations for both the prosecution and the defence.  Her experience includes advising on sensitive disclosure. She is known for her meticulous preparation, her ability to assimilate large quantities of information and extracting the salient issues.


Current instructions

She is currently instructed as junior counsel in a multi-phase SFO prosecution of a global engineering company for international corporate corruption.  She is also advising a multi-national on various matters arising from the salvage of a celebrated wreck.


Nichola both lectures and writes regularly on the Bribery Act 2010 and related issues.  She is a contributor to Bribery: A compliance handbook, Bloomsbury Professional, 2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Lloyds Law Reports: Financial Crime.


Nichola is an approved advocate for the Serious Fraud Office and a fluent Spanish speaker.


Articles & Publications


  • Bribery: a compliance handbook, Bloomsbury Professional 2014 (contributing author)
  • Time to negotiate? An analysis of deferred prosecution agreements, Counsel Magazine, September 2014
  • Principal’s Consent: has the mist finally cleared? March 2014 More >
  • Deferred Prosecution Agreements at what price? Published in The Lawyer June 2013 More >
  • The Bribery Act 2010, Westlaw UK Insight, 2012
  • Corruption and Misconduct in a Public Office, Westlaw UK Insight, 2012
  • "All hail the Bribery Act: the toothless wonder" (Archbold News, July 2011) 
  • "The Bribery Act 2010: all bark and no bite?" (Archbold News, June 2010)
  • "Something in Common: A report on the 17th Commonwealth Lawyers'' Association Conference" (Counsel, June 2011)
  • "Positive Transformation", an article on the future of the Young Bar (Counsel, June 2011)
  • "The Advocates Panel Scheme and the Bar", an article written with Max Hill Q.C. on the CPS Advocates Panels (Counsel, May 2011)
  • "Taking a case to the Court of Human Rights: An overview"


Representation of the Profession

Nichola was Chairman of the Young Barristers' Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales in 2011 and a member of Bar Council for three years. She was a member of the Board of Editors of Counsel Magazine (2012-2015) and has represented the Bar at the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association annual conference (2011) and at the American Bar Association Young Lawyers' Division annual conference (2011).

Regulatory and Financial Crime

Nichola’s experience of complex and multi-jurisdictional matters of corruption and fraud includes:

  • R. v. Alstom Network UK, junior counsel for the corporate defendant in its prosecution by the Serious Fraud Office (current instruction).
  • Instructed as junior counsel in an SFO investigation into a financially highly complex “Ponzi” fraud (current instruction).
  • Conducted an internal investigation for a large multi-national concerning the diversion of some €30 million from an engineering project (current instruction).
  • Instructed to advise a FTSE 100 extractive company in relation to its investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for suspected corruption offences.
  • Advised a French blue-chip (CAC40) multi-national with complex global operations on its Bribery Act obligations for six months in 2014.  While based in Paris, Nichola led a team advising on adequate procedures and related issues.
  • SFO v. D & H, Junior counsel in an international conspiracy to corrupt spanning ten years and involving the payment of $30 million of alleged bribes.
  • SFO v H & Others Disclosure counsel in an international investment fund fraud.
  • SFO v. KS & MS, junior counsel in a complex and serious fraud to cheat a private Swiss bank of €22 million. KS, a solicitor, conspired with a client, MS, to produce false letters as security for the multi-million Euro loan. KS was also charged with abusing his position as an equity partner in the law firm, Mishcon de Reya, as a result of taking £1.8 million from the client account in one of the first SFO prosecutions for fraud by abuse of position.
  • SFO v. M, Instructed as junior counsel in one of the SFO's first prosecutions for overseas corruption. The case was the culmination of a four year investigation and involved the payment of bribes by a London reinsurance company to high ranking government officials in Costa Rica. During the course of this case, Nichola was able to employ her language skills by analysing evidence in Spanish and liaising with the judicial authority in Costa Rica. She also had a principal role in negotiating one of the first successful plea agreements conducted by the SFO.

Homicide and Related Grave Offences

Nichola has wide experience of cases involving serious violence and organised crime from attempted murder to money laundering and is regularly instructed both alone and as a led junior.

  • R. v. B & others, Instructed as junior counsel to represent B who was charged with attempted murder of a rival drug dealer and conspiracy to corrupt a civilian working for the police (Operation Shelton). The case turned on nuanced and lengthy legal argument concerning the admissibility and reliability of anonymous hearsay evidence.
  • R. v. GB,  Arson with intent to endanger life. Instructed to defend a young girl accused of burning down the house of her best friend in an act of revenge while the friend was inside the property. The principal count on the indictment was stayed following a successful abuse of process argument.
  • R v T,  Defended a former police officer charged with domestic violence and perverting the course of justice. The case was terminated following successful legal argument on abuse of process and autrefois acquit.

Criminal Appeals and Judicial Review

Nichola has developed a reputation for drafting and arguing novel and complex issues of law. She is instructed in criminal appeals and challenges by way of judicial review. Recent cases include:

  • R. (On the application of C) v St Alban's Magistrates' Court Instructed to judicially review a decision made by Magistrates to commit a case to the Crown Court.
  • R. v. AT, Instructed to advise on appeal out of time on behalf of a man with mental health difficulties accused of historic sexual assault on minors. The imposition of a sentence of imprisonment for public protection was successfully appealed following legal argument resulting in his immediate release.


Nichola advises and appears for requested persons facing extradition at both first instance and on appeal to the High Court. Significant cases include:

  • Islam v. Cyprus Represented a person wanted for extradition by Cyprus. The case required legal argument on the construction and specificity of the European Arrest Warrant.


Fluent Spanish speaker.



Education/Professional Qualifications

Law with Spanish (BA Hons)

Thomas More Bursary (Lincoln’s Inn, 2004)

Bar Vocational Course (Outstanding, first in order of merit) (2005)

Buchanan prize (Lincoln’s Inn, 2005)

Taylor Prize (2005)

Called to the Inns of Court, Northern Ireland (2007)

Young Fraud Lawyers’ Association

Criminal Bar Association

Extradition Lawyers’ Association

Member of the South-Eastern Circuit

European Young Bar Association



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