Rudi Fortson KC
  • Rudi is a brain. He is so respected by the judiciary for his academic prowess.

    Chambers UK 2024, Crime

  • He's very likeable to a jury. Wise and trustworthy, he charms everyone.

    Chambers UK 2024, Crime

  • He is an effective cross-examiner and his understated and polite manner in court means opponents, juries and judges warm to him.

    Legal 500 2024, Crime

  • He has a comprehensive knowledge of the law, which enables him to spot legal gaps in prosecution cases. 

    Legal 500 2024, Crime

  • Extremely diligent and easy to talk to, he has a good manner with clients.

    Chambers UK 2023, Crime

  • Rudi is a walking legal text book, but wears his learning lightly. He is a tireless advocate for his clients.

    Legal 500 2023, Crime

  • Extremely thorough and has in-depth knowledge of the law

    Chambers UK 2022

  • Rudi is unparalleled so far as technical points of law are concerned.

    Legal 500 2022, Crime 

  • His skills of statutory construction and interpretation are exceptional for a criminal barrister. For this reason, he is often the choice of a defendant who wants to explore a difficult test case.

    Legal 500 2022, Crime 

  • His knowledge is unparalleled. He is very bright indeed and extremely able.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • He cuts through the most difficult legal technicalities and puts client at ease.

    Chambers UK

  • He is exceptional in terms of his attention to detail. He prepares his cases meticulously with great insight into the legal issues in particular. He has great experience and tactical awareness. His expertise with regards to drug cases is second to none and he is a respected authority on the law in this area.

    Legal 500 2021

  • Skilled at handling confiscation, asset recovery and money laundering matters.

    Chambers UK

  • He combines academic skill with a perfectly genuine charm.

    Legal 500

  • He's diligent, very able and quick to boil down large quantities of case papers into what really matters.

    Chambers UK

  • A formidable advocate in the courtroom. He has an easy manner which clients like.

    Legal 500

  • Very approachable and friendly and extremely knowledgeable - everyone looks to him for guidance.

    Chambers UK

  • He is building himself a reputation as an expert on psychoactive substances.

    Legal 500

  • A quick thinker and solid strategist with strong convictions.

    Legal 500 2018

  • A leading expert on psychoactive substances and the misuse of drugs.

    Legal 500

  • He has huge knowledge and expertise in the field and is warm and helpful with clients.

    Legal 500

  • Well-known as a specialist in illegal and semi-legal drugs and their scientific components.

    Legal 500 2020

Called 1976

Silk 2010

Rudi Fortson KC


An independent practising barrister for some 30 years, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Queen Mary, University of London

A highly rated academic barrister with a fine and analytical mind.Legal 500

Rudi Fortson KC is noted for his work in relation to serious crime, including fraud, confiscation, asset-recovery, money-laundering, drug law, law of evidence, homicide, and weapons. He has been described in the Chambers and Partners Directory as “exceptional”, “a staff and a rock to his client” and, in Legal 500, as “a highly rated academic barrister with a fine and analytical mind”. He has chambers at 25 Bedford Row, London.

Rudi Fortson KC was a consultant to the Law Commission for England and Wales in respect of its Firearms project, and more recently (2018-2019) in respect of its Anti-Money Laundering project: see the Law Commission Report entitled Anti-money laundering: the SARs regime

Rudi Fortson KC served on the ‘Runciman’ Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971” as its principal legal adviser (Police Foundation, Chair: Lady Runciman DBE), and he was a member of the Criminal Justice Forum for the Institute for Public Policy Research (‘Them and Us’).  He was also a member of (and the principal legal adviser) the ‘Independent Working Group on Drug Consumption Rooms’ (Joseph Rowntree Foundation).

Fortson has attended various ‘experts meetings’ at the European Commission in Brussels.  He was a member of a Task Force jointly set up by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) on ‘the Future of EU, UK and US Cooperation in Criminal Justice and Police Cooperation’ (i.e., ‘Brexit’).  He spoke in Paris (May 2019) on the question Brexit and Criminal Justice: Will pragmatism prevail over politics?.

In recent years Rudi Fortson KC has advised various businesses and individuals on complex UK and EU legal issues concerning the production, importation and distribution of medicinal products, psychoactive substances, hemp products, medicinal cannabis, CBD products, licensing, the medicines legislation, food products, product safety, cosmetics, and their regulatory controls.

Rudi Fortson KC is a member of the Criminal Bar Association (England and Wales), the Forensic Science Society (Great Britain), the British Academy of Forensic Science, the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association, and the Financial Services Lawyers Association.

Rudi Fortson KC has written and lectured extensively on a wide range of issues relating to the criminal law (as it applies in the UK and in the EU). He has regularly spoken on the Law of Evidence at the 'flagship' Criminal Law Review Conference.

Articles, Publications & Events

  • Misuse of Drugs and Drug Trafficking Offences” (Sweet & Maxwell, 6th ed., 2012).
  • The Serious Crime Act 2007” (OUP, 2008).
  • The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005” (Sweet & Maxwell)
  • Criminal Justice Act 2003” (Sweet & Maxwell).
  • Criminal Justice Act 1991” (Sweet & Maxwell).

Other Professional Activities

  • Contributing editor to Blackstone's Criminal Practice (from 2007 to current); drugs; drug trafficking; firearms; other weapons; explosives.
  • Contributing editor to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice Supplements (from 2008 to current): drug offences, firearms, confiscation, and asset recovery.
  • Contributing chapter: ‘Migrant incomes, Big Issue sellers, penalties and confiscation regimes’ (chp.10; Global Labour and the Migrant Premium, The Cost of Working Abroad, edited by Tugba Basaran and Elspeth Guild, Taylor & Francis Group).
  • Contributing chapter ‘Unfitness to Plead: a plea in evolution’ (‘Comparative and international aspects of fitness to plead’; R. Mackay, 2018, OUP);
  • Contributing chapters (‘Money Laundering Offences’, and ‘Terrorism money laundering’): ‘Banks and Financial Crime: The International Law of Tainted Money’ (Sir William Blair; R. Brent and T. Grant, OUP, 2017”;
  • Introductory chapter (‘Abuse of Process’, ed., C. Wells, 2017; OUP);
  • Contributing chapter: ‘New Psychoactive Substances and the Criminal Law’: ‘Forensic Toxicology: Drug Use and Misuse’, eds., S. Davies, A. Johnston, D. Holt (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016)
  • Paper commissioned by the Law Commission for England and Wales: ‘Firearms and the Law’ (July 2015).
  • Contributing chapter ‘Mental Condition Defences and the Criminal Justice System Perspectives from Law and Medicine’, Edited by Ben Livings, Alan Reed and Nicola Wake, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, (2015).
  • Contributing chapter ‘Inchoate Liability and the Part 2 offences under the Serious Crime Act 2007’ (‘Participation in Crime” edited by A. Reed and M. Bohlander, Ashgate Publishing, 2013).
  • Contributing chapter ‘Loss of Control and Diminished Responsibility’ (Domestic, Comparative and International Perspectives, edited by A. Reed and M. Bohlander, Ashgate Publishing, November 2011).
  • Contributing chapters (confiscation and money laundering) to Banks and Financial Crime ‘The International Law of Tainted Money’, Edited by William Blair QC and Richard Brent (2008, OUP).
  • Fortson, R. (1996). ‘The sentencing of drug couriers’. In Green P.(Ed.), ‘Drug couriers: A new perspective’ (pp. 79–111), London; Quartet.
  • Former contributing editor to Archbold: Criminal Pleading, Evidence and Practice (1991 and 1995; two chapters).

Rudi Fortson KC has annotated statutes for Current Law Statutes, Sweet & Maxwell Ltd., including:

  • The Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 1990
  • The Criminal Justice Act 1991
  • The Criminal Justice Act 1993
  • The Drug Trafficking Act 1994
  • The Police and Magistrates’ Courts Act 1994
  • The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Part 5)
  • The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (parts 1-11)
  • Gangmasters Act 2004
  • Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004
  • Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
  • Drugs Act 2005
  • Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
  • Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (Parts 2-9, inclusive).

Associated Work

  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association of England and Wales, and the Forensic Science Society. Rudi Fortson has represented the Bar Council of England and Wales, and the European Criminal Bar Association, at many high level events including various experts meetings in Brussels at the invitation of the European Commission.
  • For three years he was an active member of the Police Foundation Independent Inquiry into the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 [Chair: Dame Ruth Runciman; report March 2000], and for 18 months thereafter he was a member of the Criminal Justice Forum for the Institute of Public Policy Research [IPPR].  He has given evidence to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Professional Memberships

  • Rudi Fortson is a member of the Criminal Bar Association (England and Wales), the Forensic Science Society (Great Britain), the British Academy of Forensic Science, the Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association, and the Financial Services Lawyers Association.
  • Rudi Forston is also a member of the South Eastern Circuit.
  • Lastly, Rudi Fortson is also a member of Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association (POCLA)