Hugh is a barrister who has specialised in aviation regulatory, corporate, commercial and competition law for over thirty years and is recognised as one of the most experienced and highly respected aviation lawyers in the UK. Over this period he has gained extensive experience in private practice as a barrister, as well as heading the Aviation Regulatory and Commercial practices of three international law firms.
He has acted for an extensive number of airlines, airports, regulators, governments, investors, financiers and travel companies. Hugh’s practice is international and he has acted for such clients around the world, including advising governments and regulators in Africa, Asia and elsewhere on the development of national civil aviation policy and regulation. He has advised on a number of airline start-ups, restructurings and strategic initiatives.
As a barrister Hugh has rights of audience in all national courts and tribunals and he has also appeared at hearings before the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the European Commission.
Hugh is a trained and experienced mediator and has sat as an arbitrator in aviation-related disputes.
Legal 500 2017
- International air transport regulation
- EU and UK air transport regulation
- EU and UK competition law and merger regulation
- Commercial agreements
- Corporate transactions
- Travel and consumer law
- Aviation liabilities
- Aircraft sale and purchase, leasing and management and operating agreements
- Advocacy before courts, tribunals and regulatory bodies
- Arbitration and mediation
- Advising airline start-ups including easyJet, easyJet Switzerland, Air Astana, Iceland Express, Zoom, Citywing, and Norwegian Air UK
- Advising on mergers and acquisitions including British Airways/British Caledonian, British Airways/CityFlyer Express, easyJet/Go-Fly, and easyJet/GB Airways
- Advising governments and regulators such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the governments of the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Bermuda (including drafting primary and secondary air transport legislation in Bermuda), and overseas governments in Africa and Asia
- Advising airports and airport companies including BAA, Changi (Singapore), Isle of Man, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, Bournemouth, Doncaster, Southend, Plymouth, Bristol, Pembury, and the Airport Operators Association
- Advising numerous airlines and air carriers including easyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Virgin Atlantic, Flybe, PrivatAir, Citywing, Aurigny, Air Astana, Air Europa, Tam, Blue Wing Airlines, Loganair, CityJet, FedEx, Pegasus, Swissair, TAG Aviation, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon, Daalloo, Avianca, Buraq Air, Manx 2, Aurigny, Blue Islands, Flybe, Qantas, United Airlines, WestJet, and Surf Air
- Advising travel agents and travel companies including Opodo, Odigeo, Norwegian Holiday, Canadian Affair, and Purple Ski
Please note: The experience list above may include examples of work completed prior to joining Keystone Law.
Recognised in Chambers UK 2022 for Aviation: Regulatory
“Hugh is very knowledgeable and has a huge range of experience, which he applies in a very practical way. He is very approachable, very responsive and will always give a clear view on any issue and will robustly defend his client’s position.” Chambers UK 2022
Recognised as a Leading Individual in The Legal 500 2022 for Aviation
“Hugh O’Donovan has unrivalled knowledge and experience. He is the go-to person for novel or knotty situations and is very responsive.” The Legal 500 2022
Recognised by Chambers UK 2021 for Aviation: Regulatory
The “fantastic” Hugh O’Donovan wins praise from commentators for his focus on aviation regulatory issues, with strength in multi-jurisdictional matters. “I have always found him to be clear in his explanation of the issues and what the options are,” says a source. Chambers UK 2021
Recognised as a Leading Individual by the Legal 500 2021 in Aviation
Recognised by Chambers UK 2020 for Aviation: Regulatory
Hugh O’Donovan is “very knowledgeable,” “very experienced” and “extremely practical,” according to market commentators. He is adroit at handling multi-jurisdictional aviation regulatory matters. Chambers UK 2020
Recognised as a Leading Individual by the Legal 500 2020 for Aviation
Hugh O’Donovan of Keystone Law is regarded as a leading aviation practitioner hailed by market commentators as “the regulatory king.” Clients appreciate his ability to “make difficult concepts easy to understand.” Chambers UK 2019
Recognised as a Leading Individual by the Legal 500 2018 for Aviation
Recognised by Best Lawyers (UK) in the practice area of Aviation Law from 2018 – 2022
Hugh O’Donovan of Keystone Law enjoys a healthy reputation for his regulatory expertise. He applies his jurisdictional knowledge to a broad range of transactional matters and disputes in the UK, the EU and further afield. A client says: “For me, he is one of the best aviation regulatory lawyers in the world. He has sound technical knowledge, but can temper that with an understanding of the client’s commercial needs.” Chambers UK 2018
Hugh O’Donovan is named as a leading individual for Aviation in Legal 500 2017. “Fantastic reputation”
Hugh O’Donovan of Keystone Law is widely acknowledged by commentators as a force in the aviation market and “a brand all of his own.” Widely acknowledged as “one of the top lawyers for regulatory work,” he offers advice in a range of matters, including in the development of national aviation policy. Chambers UK 2017
“Keystone Law attracts praise for its ‘extremely focused, hands-on and personalised’ service. Highlights included acting for Athena Services in a claim against Hawkeye Engines. ‘Outstanding’ barrister Hugh O’Donovan joined from Ince & Co in 2016.” Legal 500 2016
Hugh has been consistently top-ranked in the leading legal directories including Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 for many years, being variously recognised as a “doyen”, “a great industry specialist”,“outstanding”, “vastly experienced and practical”, and having “fantastic breadth of knowledge” with “decades of experience and an encyclopaedic knowledge of industry regulation”.
Clients say Hugh O’Donovan is “an outstanding lawyer in his field with a tremendous track record and experience. He is extremely intelligent and always gets straight to the point”. He specialises in commercial, regulatory and competition law. Chambers UK 2016
Hugh O’Donovan has “a wealth of valuable expertise”, and heads the commercial aviation team. Legal 500 2015
Hugh qualified as a barrister in 1975. Prior to joining Keystone Law in 2016, he worked at the following firms:
- Ince & Co
- Denton Wilde Sapte
- Richards Butler