Ellis Sareen

Ellis Sareen

‘A very good advocate who is emotionally intelligent as well as being the possessor of one of the most brilliant minds. He’s able to get judges to eat out of his hand.’

Chambers and Partners (2024)



Bar Vocational Course, Inns of Court School of Law – Outstanding
Graduate Diploma in Law, City University
MA (Cantab)


Barstow Prize



Legal 500 - Leading Junior

Overview of Practice

Ellis Sareen’s criminal practice centres on fraud, proceeds of crime, and corporate crime, where he prosecutes and defends. He also acts in civil fraud and commercial cases, in civil actions against the police, in civil proceeds of crime litigation, in regulatory prosecutions, in some fields of public law, and for the defence in general criminal cases involving violence, drugs or disorder. As leading or sole advocate he has conducted trials in the King’s Bench Division and the Chancery Division of the High Court, as well as in Crown Courts throughout England and Wales.

He has appeared in the Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court to argue legal points concerning extradition (Balint v Czech Republic [2012] 1 WLR 244), criminal compensation (Beaumont [2015] 1 Cr App R (S) 1), abuse of process by escalating charges (Govorusa [2018] EWCA Crim 2841 – “we pay tribute to the careful written argument … supplemented attractively in oral argument“), venire de novo (Bahbahani [2018] QB 1099), joint bank accounts (Thakor [2020] EWCA Crim 541), the legal effect of impersonation at trial (R (Bahbahani) v Ealing MC [2020] QB 487 – “Mr Sareen mounts a powerful argument“), prisoner transfer (R (Neville) v SoS for Justice [2021] EWHC 957 (Admin) – “attractively presented submissions“), and variation of confiscation orders (R v Blenkiron [2022] EWCA Crim 669). Cases in which he has been instructed have advanced the law of costs in both civil (May v Wavell Group Ltd [2017] 12 WLUK 679) and criminal (R (Bahbahani) v Ealing MC [2020] QB 487) proceedings.

He is often instructed to advise victims of crime, or third parties to criminal or civil litigation, including corporations who have suffered or who suspect fraud, recipients of witness summonses, recipients of production orders and disclosure orders, and third parties in receivership, forfeiture and freezing applications.

Prior to coming to the bar, he worked for over a decade as an information technology consultant in the UK and abroad, mainly in the financial sector. Many of the cases in which he is instructed have a technical angle, and he has a track record of successfully challenging apparently conclusive expert evidence in this field.

He is registered with the Bar Council as a public access barrister. Where appropriate, he can be instructed directly by a member of the public without the need to go through a solicitor.

Practice Areas

A first-class, dedicated barrister who is great to work with. Ellis has the ability to deal with the most complex matters with ease. He’s a persuasive advocate both in and out of court, with remarkable IT skills to boot.’
Chambers and Partners (2024)

‘A very good advocate who is emotionally intelligent as well as being the possessor of one of the most brilliant minds. He’s able to get judges to eat out of his hand.’
Chambers and Partners (2024)

As prosecuting counsel in criminal proceedings, Ellis Sareen has been conducting multihanded Crown Court prosecutions since 2010, mainly for corporate, regulatory and local authority prosecutors. He specialises in cases of large-scale fraud and money-laundering, usually in a business context. Most of the cases he prosecutes involve corporate defendants and lead to proceeds of crime proceedings. He is presently instructed as leading junior for the prosecution in a case in which a total of 13 individual and corporate defendants face allegations of conspiracy to commit a fraud valued at around £80 million.

His defence practice is broader. Recent criminal defence work has been in the fields of money laundering (Worcester Crown Court, Leeds Crown Court), conspiracy to defraud (Supreme Court of Gibraltar), product safety offences (St Albans Crown Court), planning enforcement (Wood Green Crown Court), health and safety (Basildon Crown Court), attempted murder (Guildford Crown Court, Central Criminal Court) and murder (led) (Isleworth Crown Court, Central Criminal Court).

Not all of his cases concern charges that are inherently serious: some of his work involves representing individuals for whom conviction on a relatively minor summary-only offence may have drastic professional or personal consequences. He has represented legal, medical, financial and diplomatic professionals in cases of this nature.

Recent private law work includes actions against the police (for false imprisonment, for conversion of goods, and for trespass), commercial and company disputes (over real property investment, over the sale of a solicitors’ firm, concerning control of a family business, over disputed loans), disputes over land (by reason of adverse possession, arising out of a family dispute), insolvency petitions (personal and corporate), and civil fraud.

Between 2013 and 2017, he represented numerous victims of interest rate hedging product (‘IRHP’) mis-selling, both in the FCA redress scheme and in court actions.

Recent advisory work includes advice to corporate victims of fraud on recovery of the sums defrauded, advice to minority shareholders suffering prejudice from the majority, advice to a financial services company on the proper interpretation of the FCA’s Code of Business Sourcebook, and advice on the scope of the UK scheme for regulation of the insurance industry.

Ellis Sareen has acted for the prosecution and the defence in numerous contested confiscation cases, some involving sums in the millions of pounds, as well as for the applicant and the respondent in detention, account or cash forfeiture, civil recovery, restraint, receivership and condemnation proceedings. He is frequently instructed by third parties, such as the spouse or partner of a defendant in criminal proceedings, to challenge state claims over their property.
In public law, Ellis Sareen has acted for claimants and interested parties in judicial review of decisions in the realms of penal enforcement, planning, and wildlife protection, as well as in of applications for judicial review arising out of criminal prosecutions. He has experience of licensing work in a number of fields (premises, taxi, SIA), and has appeared in the First Tier Tribunal on education and on property matters.

Notable Cases

Operation Maple Lodge (Southwark Crown Court, 2019) – Leading counsel for the prosecution. Fraud on a postal operator by its mail consolidator customers over a period of more than a decade. Total value estimated at £70-80million. A total of 14 defendants will be tried over in three trials from August 2023.

R v Cornelio and others (Supreme Court of Gibraltar, 2019–) – Defence, as junior to Ben Cooper QC, of the former commander of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Lt Col John Perez MBE, and Tommy Cornelio, a prominent software developer, on charges of conspiracy to defraud and computer misuse offences. Discontinued by the entry of a nolle prosequi shortly before the hearing of a defence application to dismiss.

McGrail Inquiry, Gibraltar (2022–) — As junior to Ben Cooper QC, representing Tommy Cornelio and Lt Col John Perez MBE and others in Gibraltar’s https://coircomp.gi/ inquiry before Sir Peter Openshaw into the reasons and circumstances leading to the early retirement of former Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, Ian McGrail.

May v Wavell Group Ltd (County Court at Central London, 2014–18) – Led junior for the claimant, in a private law action for noise nuisance from the construction of a super-basement. The appeal from the detailed assessment marks the beginning of a line of cases giving guidance on the application of the test of proportionality in cases brought on principle.

R v IA (Guildford Crown Court, 2021) – Sole advocate for a young boxer charged with attempted murder of a former friend by stabbing.

R v Bahbahani (Crown Court at Isleworth, Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), Divisional Court, 2014–) – Sole advocate acting for the local authority in a long-running case concerning planning enforcement. “The facts of this case are extraordinary, and we think it almost inconceivable that they will ever be replicated.” – Holroyde LJ. Ongoing.

Pitamber and others v Thakrar Chancery Division [2019] EWHC 836 (Ch), [2019] All ER (D) 77 (Apr) – Acting for the defendant in a claim in contract and unjust enrichment arising out of dispute over the redevelopment of a £15 million London townhouse.

R v RO (Central Criminal Court, 2022) – Sole advocate for the first defendant in an attempted murder by stabbing in Tufnell Park.

R v CD (St Albans Crown Court, 2020-21) – Defence of a letting agent accused of a product safety offence when a fridge/freezer in a property let through her agency caught fire as the result of a manufacturing fault. A legally complex case in which a trading standards department sought to convict a person they accepted was “possibly the most diligent letting agent in Hertfordshire” for breach of an asserted duty to monitor product recall notices. No case to answer.

Operation Manta (Isleworth Crown Court, 2020) – Sole prosecuting counsel. Fraud on a postal operator by its customer (an online fancy goods merchant) to a value or around £8 million. Prosecution of the customer, and then of the employee of the postal operator said to have facilitated the fraud.

R v PO (Central Criminal Court, 2021–22) – Sole advocate for a former soldier suffering with PTSD. Charged with attempted murder after stabbing an acquaintance during a social evening.

Director of Border Revenue v Sensi Seeds Ltd – Acting for an importer of CBD (cannabidiol) oil following an attempt by a Border Force officer to condemn a shipment identical to a product openly on sale in major UK retailers on the grounds that it was a controlled drug. Goods recovered after the court accepted that the concentration of the active substance THC was so low as to be de minimis.

R v AB (Leeds Crown Court, 2022–) – Led junior for a defendant in an alleged £260 million money laundering, centred around the gold trading business.

Operation Car Wash (2022–23) – Defending applications for forfeiture of money in UK banks said to derive from criminality investigated in Brazil’s Operação Lava Jato.

R v PL (Reading Crown Court, 2019) – Defence of a man previously convicted of possession of indecent images of children charged with the same offence. Acquitted after challenge to the prosecution computer forensic evidence.

LCG et al v OVG et al (2022–) – Defending in an action for misuse of private information in the Media and Communications List of the King’s Bench Division.