Professor Dr Martin Lau

Professor Martin Lau specialises in the field of Islamic finance and South Asian law in his Counsel practice.  In his arbitration practice, Martin sits as sole, presiding and co-arbitrator with experience under ad-hoc, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA and UNCITRAL rules, including Pakistan, Dubai, Qatar, Turkey and UK seated arbitrations spanning various practice streams, further details below.  Martin’s professional experience includes appointments as Legal Officer to the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland and as Legal Assistant to Prof Martin Hunter at the NAFTA Arbitral Panel in Mexico -v- US. He has provided expert reports on Islamic and South Asian law in over 200 cases. Martin frequently carries out consultancies and international fact-finding missions, for example to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iran.  Martin is also a Chartered Institute accredited mediator with experience of community mediation.

Martin is also a Professor of Law at SOAS University of London, where he has lectured since 1990. He has held visiting academic appointments at Harvard Law School and Nagoya University and is the Editor-in-Chief of Brill’s Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law.

Nationality:   German

Languages:    English and German (bilingual); Arabic, Urdu & French (intermediate)

Practice as Arbitrator

Claims in relation to:

  • Islamic finance/Murabaha Agreement (DIFC/LCIA)
  • employment dispute (UK/Saudi Arabia) (LCIA)
  • investment dispute (Qatar) (LCIA)
  • contractual dispute (Afghanistan) (PCA Ad Hoc)
  • oil/gas contracts (UAE) (LCIA)
  • media/broadcasting dispute (Pakistan) (LCIA)

Expert Opinions & Consultancies

Special Advisor to:

  • Somalia Justice Sector Reform Strategy DFID (Mogadishu 2013)
  • Kabul International Donor Conference EU (Kabul (2010)
  • Justice Sector Support Project EU (Kabul 2007-2008)

Over 200 expert opinions on Pakistani, Indian & Middle Eastern in relation to commercial disputes, extraditions, political asylum and criminal law in proceedings before UK courts and tribunals and arbitral proceedings.


Tenant, Essex Court Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London

Professor of Law, School of Law, SOAS, University of London

Dean & Professor of Law, School of Law, LUMS, Lahore/Pakistan

Reader in Law, School of Law, SOAS

Special Advisor and Team Leader of the European Commission Justice Sector Reform Programme, Kabul, Afghanistan

Visiting Scholar, Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School

Visiting Scholar, Centre for Asian Legal Exchange, University of Nagoya

Lecturer in Law, Department of Law, SOAS

Training Fellow in South Asian Law, Department of Law, SOAS

Professional Qualifications

Barrister at Law, Middle Temple


Diploma in Communicative Arabic (SOAS Language Centre)

PhD “The Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan” (University of London)

MA Area Studies (South Asia) (SOAS University of London)

BA (equivalent) History, Law & Political Science (University of Heidelberg, Germany)


Selected books, articles and edited volumes:

The Role of Islam in the Legal System of Pakistan, Leiden: Martinus Nijhof, 2006, pp. v-viii, 1-247.

Introduction to Islamic Law, London: University of London International Programmes, 2010, pp. 1-114. (co-author: D. Hinchcliffe) [University of London external LLB subject guide]

8-17 Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2001-2002) Leiden: Brill, 2003-2015, pp. i-ix, 1-391. (co-ed.: Eugene Cotran)

“Human Rights, Natural Justice and Pakistan’s Shariat Courts”, in Breau, Susan and Javaid Rehman (eds.), Religion, Human Rights and International Law, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2007, pp. 359-378.

“Access to Environmental Justice: Karachi’s Urban Poor and the Law”, in Harding, Andrew (ed.), Access to Environmental Justice: A Comparative Study, Leiden, Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007, pp. 177-203.

(With Richard Freeland), “ The Shari’a and English Law: Identity and Justice for British Muslims”, in: Quraishi, Asifa, and Frank E. Vogel (eds.), The Islamic Marriage Contract. Cases Studies in Islamic Family Law, Cambridge: Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, 2008, pp. 331-348.

“Legal Reconstruction and Islamic Law in Afghanistan”, in: Berman, Peri and Wolfhart Heinrichs and Bernhard G. Weiss (eds.), The Law Applied. Contextualizing the Islamic Shari’a, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008, pp. 216-234.

“Sharia and National Law in Pakistan”, in: Otto, Jan Michiel (ed.), Sharia Incorporated. A Comparative Overview of the legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present, Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2010, pp. 373-433.

“Offences against Religion in Pakistan: A Review”, in: Deva, Swati (ed.), Law and (In) Equalities, Delhi: Eastern Book Company, 2010, pp. 159-187.

“Islam and the Constitutional Foundations of Pakistan”, in: Rainer Grote, Tilmann Roeder (eds.), Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 171-199.

“Pakistan”, in: 8 Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2001-2002), pp. 312-329. [analysis of legal developments]

“Pakistan”, in: 9 Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2002-2003), pp. 350-372. [analysis of legal developments]

“Pakistan”, 12 Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2005-2006), pp. 443-474. [analysis of legal developments]

“Pakistan”, 13 Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (2006-2007), pp. 275-292. [analysis of legal developments]

‘The Independence of the Judiciary in Islamic, International and Afghanistan’s Legal System”, in: Zeitschrift fuer auslaendisches oeffentliches Recht und Voelkerrecht, 2004, 64: 3, pp. 917-927.

‘Islam and Human Rights in Comparative Perspective: The New Constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan’, in: Comparative Law Journal (Hikakuho Kenkyu), May 2005, 66, pp. 208-222.

“Twenty-Five Years of Hudood Ordinances -A Review”, Washington and Lee Law Review, 2007, 64: 4, pp. 1291-1314.

“The Quiet Evolution: Islam and Women’s Right in Pakistan”, International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter, Autumn 2008, 49, pp. 6-7.

Commissioned Reports:

The Human Rights Situation of the Ahmadiyya Community: A Report of the Parliamentary Human Rights’ Group’s Fact-finding Mission to Pakistan, London: PHRG, 2010, (pp. 54) (principal author)

A Long March to Justice: A Report on Judicial Independence and Integrity in Pakistan, London: International Bar Association, Human Rights Institute, September 2009. (rapporteur and principal author) (124 pp.)

How does the donor community approach legal pluralism? Discussion Note for the World Bank Headline Seminar III: Rule of Law in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations/Informal and Formal Systems of Rule of Law, July 2009. (6 pp.)

Review of Rule of Law Support by the British Embassy, Kabul and DFID Afghanistan, Classified Report, Commissioned by the British Embassy Programme Office Kabul and the Afghan Inter Departmental Drugs Unit, June 2009. (27 pp.)

National Justice Sector Strategy, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan/Afghanistan National Development Strategy, Kabul, 2008. (co-author on behalf of the European Commission) (62 pp.)

National Justice Programme, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan/Afghanistan National Development Strategy, Kabul, 2008. (co-author on behalf of the European Commission) (258 pp.)


i. Editor:

Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, volumes 8 (2001-2002) to volume 15 (2008-2009) (Brill) (with E. Cotran) [7 volumes]

ii: Book Series Editor:

Brill’s Arab and Islamic Law Series (with Eugene Cotran and Mark Hoyle) [5 monographs]

The London-Leiden Series on Law, Administration and Development (book series published by Brill) (with Jan-Michiel Otto)

iii. Editorial Boards:

Harvard Series in Islamic Law (book series published by the Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, distributed by Harvard University Press)

INTERIGHTS Commonwealth Human Rights Law Digest

Law, Environment and Development Journal

Judicial and Professional Training

Academic Director of:

  • Lord Chancellor’s Chinese Judges Training Programme (1997-2010)
  • Dubai International Financial Centre Court Judges’ Training Programme (2007-2009)
  • Qatar International Financial Centre Court Judges’ Training Programme (2009-2012)
  • Young Chinese Lawyers’ Professional Training Course (2008-2010)