Wayne Barnes is a partner in our Government Investigations & White Collar Practice, based in the London office. He is an experienced criminal barrister and trial advocate with more than two decades of experience conducting complex, internal and corporate investigations across multiple jurisdictions.

Wayne is a former international rugby union referee and has presided over more Rugby World Cup matches than anyone else in history, including the 2023 Rugby World Cup Final.

With his professional rugby background as one of the world’s leading international sports officials and his specialist legal practice, Wayne is able to bridge the worlds of law and sport. He is regularly instructed by national governing bodies, professional sports organisations, commercial sponsors and rights holders on all aspects of sports law, governance, ethics and safeguarding. He has recently conducted investigations and reviews for the British Judo Association, England Boxing and British Horseracing Authority.

In addition to sport, his work crosses a variety of industries, including publishing, logistics, energy and natural resources, and infrastructure. He has represented clients being investigated or prosecuted by law enforcement entities such as the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US Department of Justice, and is often called upon to deliver training to companies and individuals on how to avoid regulatory intervention.

Wayne is a well-established speaker, presenter and pundit, offering in-depth, expert analysis from his unique position, with an ability to explain the technicalities of law and the nuances of the global game – often sharing his insight into leadership, facing adversity, dealing with pressure and building effective teams with leading international organisations.

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  • Led an internal investigation into bullying within an Olympic sport, which included recommendations into improved governance and the performance programme.
  • Led a sensitive investigation into a boardroom leak, highlighting the governance issues that may have caused the leak.
  • Conducted an investigation and reconciliation piece of work leading to the improvement of a national governing body’s disciplinary structure.
  • Conducted internal investigations across Africa as part of a World Bank and SFO self-referral.
  • Conducted in-house training for legal and compliance teams on matters relating to bribery and corruption, money laundering and the conducting of internal investigations.


  • University of East Anglia, LL.B., 2000


  • England and Wales, 2002

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Key Advisor, Sportable
  • UK Athletics, Standards, Ethics and Rules Committee Member
  • Member, Fraud Lawyers Association


  • English
  • French

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