Nicholas Cotter

Year of Call: 1999
Email Address:
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Telephone: 01962 868 884

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Nicholas regularly appears before sports regulation / disciplinary hearings and provides advice on rules, compliance and the consequences of infringements.

Nicholas has a significant background in malfeasance, bribery and fraud and is well placed to deal with these matters arising from corruption and criminality in sport. He has a particular specialisation in anti-doping law both Defending and Prosecuting.

Recent cases:

  • UKAD v X
    Currently instructed Counsel for UKAD in a unique body dimorphism case pertaining to reasonable excuse and failing to supply
  • UKAD v X
    Instructed Counsel for a professional regional rugby player who fell foul of the use of banned supplement. UKAD conceded that some evidence existed which supported lack of doping education and no intentional use and the panel in turn were convinced of the merit of early return permission to training despite the imposition of a disqualification period
  • UKAD v X
    Instructed Counsel for UKAD in a case that resulted in the first UK lifetime ban for a member of the “support team” for an athlete and impacted on the issue of who could be included within the definition of support personnel (namely an athlete's parent)
  • BHA v X
    Represented a professional flat racing Jockey before a full disciplinary panel accused by the BHA of the offences of sample tampering and bringing the sport into disrepute. The issue resolved around the use of illicit substances and the athletes attempt to use /acquire another
    individuals sample to mask the primary offence
  • UKAD v X
    Providing advice to a basketball player charged with a drug tampering offence namely that the athlete tried to pass off another athletes name when providing a sample. The case reached the tribunal and the athlete was given a significant reduced sentence in light of his mitigation and early advice
  • UKAD v X
    Representing a cyclist who had refused to provide a sample when requested after competition. The athlete was advised early in the matter and the key issues argued before the tribunal were primarily “compelling justification” and “no significant fault” for failing to provide a sample. The tribunal recorded a finding of no significant fault in favour of the
    cyclist and a much reduced ban. Nicholas also subsequently advised on the implications of disqualification upon prize money
    Representing a young boxer who had taken a sports supplement. The supplement contained a substance banned during competition and the existence of the substance within the supplement was not known to the athlete. The athlete in his first instance tribunal was found to have had “no significant fault” when he ingested the substance. The athlete had further argued that he did not intend to “enhance his sports performance” with the supplement. This argument failed before the Tribunal and was the subject of significant legal debate (Foggo / Oliveria cases) internationally. The athlete's original ban was reduced by 50% by the original panel however UKAD did not appeal this on the basis that they believed that the Oliveria approach should have been followed rather than Foggo in reaching a decision. This placed the Athlete in jeopardy of having his period of disqualification increased in the de novo hearing if the panel continued to follow the Foggo approach but rejected his mitigation. The NADP chaired by Mr Peter Leaver QC disagreed with the suggestion that the Oliveria approach should have been followed and indicated that they did not agree with the reduction in the period of disqualification originally imposed by the First Instance Tribunal. However the Appeal Panel was persuaded not to alter the original sanction reduction afforded to the athlete.


Has a general criminal and regulatory practice, with an emphasis on the Western Circuit and London. He has a track record of acting in cases involving fraud, organised crime, serious sexual offences and murder. His expertise also includes regulatory law with particular experience handling environmental law and health and safety matters.
"A very client-friendly and expert criminal counsel."
Recent work: Defended one of the defendants charged with the aggravated burglary of a Hatton Garden jeweller.

Chambers UK 2019/Western (Bar) - Crime - Band 3

Strengths: "He has a terrific brain, a formidable work ethic, an unflappable demeanour and his tactical awareness can make the difference in a tricky case."

Chambers UK 2018/Western (Bar) - Crime - Band 3

'Has a general criminal and regulatory practice, and is active on both the Western and South Eastern Circuits. He has a track record of acting in cases involving fraud, organised crime and serious sexual offences.'
Strengths: "Completely unflappable, he has an extremely good temperament in court. Destined for great things." "A very capable advocate."'

Chambers UK 2017/Western (Bar) - Crime - Band 3

'A consummately able barrister.'

Legal 500 2018/19/Crime - Tier 1

‘A formidable advocate.’

Legal 500 2017/Regional Bar - Western Circuit, Crime – Leading juniors

“Now this case is over, may I express my significant grateful thanks for the way you have consistently and over a lengthy period handled the complex case of R v O.

This case was never destined to be easy, and indeed it proved to be one of the most difficult cases I have dealt with in the last 30 years. I am in awe of the skill, professionalism, compassion and knowledge that you put into this case, coupled with your ability to look after, control and satisfy a very difficult Client.

Your willingness to see our Client without Solicitor and to promptly report back to myself was an outstanding pathway to enabling us to deal efficiently with a client of the most demanding nature, who barely spent a day off the telephone whilst in prison.

Notwithstanding the sentence passed, I think it is fair to say that without your extremely high level of expertise, the result could have been tremendously less beneficial to the Client.

I think it would be correct in this case to concentrate on the level of acquittals obtained for O, which speak volumes for your ability and dedication."

Instructing Solicitor, Bournemouth, June 2017

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Academic qualifications

  • Diploma in Law / CPE (Bristol)
  • BA (Hons) History

Professional qualifications & appointments

  • A Grade 4 Crown Prosecutor
  • Member of the Rape Panel of Crown Prosecutors
  • Member of the Serious Crime Panel of Crown Prosecutors
  • Member of the Serious Fraud Panel of Crown Prosecutors

Professional bodies

  • The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn
  • Association of Commonwealth Criminal Lawyers
    British Association for Sport and Law (BASL)
  • Member of the Western Circuit
  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers' Association
  • The Health & Safety Lawyers Association
  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association

Direct Access

Nicholas Cotter is qualified to accept instructions directly from members of the public and professional clients under the Direct Public Access scheme.

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