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John Forrest

Head of International Trade, London

John Forrest practices in the area of international trade law, with a particular focus on economic sanctions, export controls, embargoes, customs regulation the negotiation and implementation of free trade agreements and preference schemes and trade defence instruments.

His client relationships embrace major multinational corporations and small start-up companies across a range of sectors including financial services, energy, high tech and telecommunications, manufacturing, defence, agribusiness and mining.

John is a member of the DLA Piper Brexit Committee, which coordinates the firm's approach to the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.


John regularly counsels clients on the handling and coordination of multijurisdictional investigations involving alleged violations of international sanctions, export controls and customs regulations. He works with clients to assess their compliance risk profile and develop and implement fit for purpose policies and procedures for the identification and management of risk associated with cross-border activity, including: trade financing, import and export activity, investment transactions and enhanced counter-party screening and due diligence.

John regularly provides support to clients to assess compliance key considerations for specific transactions on issues such as:

  • Export control and customs related product classifications
  • The impact of restrictions on key equipment
  • Prohibitions on ancillary services such as technical assistance, transport and financing
  • Tariff classification and customs valuations
  • Preparation, submission and handling of authorisation requests
  • Voluntary disclosures to relevant competent authorities
  • Internal and external compliance reviews and audits
  • Remedial measures and mitigating circumstances
  • Free trade agreements and preference schemes
Key Experience
  • Advising a major private equity company on risk profiling and the development and implementation of associated policies and procedures to identify and manage trade compliance risk for its international group entities
  • Advising a number of international financial institutions, manufacturers, trading houses and consultancy companies on the scope and application of measures restricting the supply of goods and services, financing and technical assistance in relation to jurisdictions such as Russia, Iran, Syria and Libya
  • Advising clients in the financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications and energy sectors on the coordination of multi-jurisdictional investigations into alleged violations of economic sanctions and export control obligations and associated strategic advice in relation to engagement with relevant competent authorities
  • Advising a major international manufacturing company in the aerospace, energy and defence related sectors on the coordination of an internal investigation and handling of a voluntary self-disclosure to relevant export control and customs authorities for alleged violations of trade and customs regulations
  • Advising an international software developer and telecommunications company on product classification issues for the identification of export controlled hardware and software, compliance risk associated with distribution networks and cloud computing solutions and regulatory obligations associated with export authorisations, licensing conditions and regulatory reporting
  • Advising an international oil and gas development, exploration and production company on the management of third party risk associated with its sub-contractors, suppliers and customers and the drafting of appropriate contractual terms and conditions and representations and warranties
  • Kingston University, Bachelor's Degree in Law, LLB (Hons), 1994


John provides strategic advice on international trade law and compliance with associated regulatory obligations. Legal 500 UK recommends John as "an impeccable individual" who "provides practical advice" in relation to the complex framework of international trade and customs law.


  • First Round of US Sanctions Reintroduced and EU Blocking Statute Updated, 7 Aug 2018
  • Office of financial sanctions implementation
  • HM Revenue & Customs
  • EU Policy and Regulatory update: EU extends sectoral sanctions against Russia, 20 Jul 2018
  • EU Policy and Regulatory update: EU Blocking Statute to Protect EU Companies from US Sanctions against Iran, 12 Jun 2018
  • EU Policy and Regulatory update: EU Legislation to Block US Extraterritorial Sanctions against Iran, 21 May 2018
  • US to re-impose sanctions on Iran as it withdraws from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, 9 May 2018
  • The prospect for deep and comprehensive trade agreements with the Commonwealth post Brexit, 27 Apr 2018
  • New US section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum products, 26 Mar 2018
  • Navigating your business through Brexit: four ways DLA Piper can help, 1 Mar 2018
  • Sanctions Bill significantly amended by the House of Lords, 26 Jan 2018
  • The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill and trading under WTO rules, 12 Dec 2017
  • The Trade Bill - UK trade policy following Brexit, 11 Dec 2017
  • The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill
  • A case of continuity? UK sanctions policy post-Brexit, 31 Aug 2017
  • Extension to UK sanctions reporting requirements, 2 Aug 2017
  • Beyond Brexit: Britain and the global economy, 21 Jul 2017
  • The EU's Court of Justice rules that the EU alone cannot conclude "new generation" free trade agreements, 18 May 2017
  • Changes to the enforcement of financial sanctions in the UK, 10 Apr 2017
  • Flash update: trade compliance, 31 Mar 2017

Prior Experience

John previously served as a senior official within the UK civil service and as an advisor to the UK government on trade and investment issues.