Michael Duck QC - Crime
Top Ranked Band1, Criminal Silk – Midland Circuit, Leaders in their Field, Chambers and Partners UK 2017
Shortlisted for Regional Silk of the Year in the LEGAL 500 2015/6 awards
Shortlisted in Birmingham Law Society “Barrister of the Year 2016
Recorder on the Northern Circuit (2015)
Chairman of the International Committee of the Criminal Bar Association (August 2013-January 2017)
Member of the International Bar Association
Serious Fraud Office QC Panel (2013)
Cayman Islands Bar (2013, July and Nov 2015)
"He is one of the best silks in the Midlands.”
Chambers and Partners UK 2017
Michael is widely recognised as one of the best criminal silks in the Midlands, being only one of four criminal silks to be given Band 1 ranking by Chambers and Partners UK guide 2017 on the Midland Circuit and only one of two in Birmingham.
2015/6 was a particularly successful period for Michael and reflects his established reputation as a leading "silk". He was shortlisted for Legal 500's Regional Silk of the Year 2015, he was appointed a Recorder on the Northern Circuit and was shortlisted in the Birmingham Law Society's "Barrister of the Year" awards 2016.
Michael was appointed to the Serious Fraud Office’s specialist panel of independent counsel authorised to prosecute on its behalf (April 2013). The appointment reflects Michael's expertise in the field of fraud and complex crime. The list of those appointed to the specialist panel demonstrates the Serious Fraud Office's commitment to working with the country's top QCs in the prosecution of the most serious and complex crime. The SFO only appointed 64 QCs nationally. Michael's inclusion recognises his successful involvement in the litigation of high profile, multiple defendant trials over a number of years.
Michael has appeared in a number of the country’s most well known cases during his career including the appeal of Jeremy Bamber, the prosecution of Burger Bar members for the killing of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, the representation of one of the M40 Bikers, and the representation of men alleged to have been involved in murders during the Birmingham riots in both 2007 and 2011, R v Jamie Reynolds (defending a 22 year old man charged with the planned murder of a serving police officer's 17 year old daughter) and R v Harry Street (the prosecution of a 71 year old man for possessing bomb making equipment and firearms having been convicted of five counts of homicide with firearms in 1978) - (see notable cases below). Michael specialises in serious crime, fraud and asset recovery – he has done so for approximately 25 years. In addition to his Crown Court/Court of Appeal practice Michael has a strong reputation in the field of police disciplinary work and the representation of private clients in the most serious road traffic matters e.g manslaughter and causing death by dangerous driving. Clients, both lay and professional, consistently comment upon Michael’s down to earth approach and his engaging manner.
Michael attended “An Introduction to the International Criminal Court Bar Association- The New Voice for the Legal Profession.” by invitation in The Hague (November 2016)
Michael has recognised the growing influence of cybercrime and is regarded as an expert in the field both nationally and internationally
He was instructed in a major international case for a foreign company which has significant worldwide implications for the industry concerned (November 2014).
Michael was invited to speak at the International Adriatic Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia September 2015. (Crime Day) – on the topic “How organised is Cybercrime?”
Michael was a guest speaker on the Hi-Tech business panel at the Turkish and British Chamber of Commerce and Industry seminar in Istanbul in September 2014 - he was one of the six expert panellists who provided the audience with guidance upon the implications of technology for businesses in both jurisdictions and internationally. Michael was invited to provide expertise upon the risks of criminal security breaches and international cybercrime.
Michael was called to the Bar in the Cayman Islands in October 2013 and July/November 2015. On those occasions he represented two men accused of murder and senior insurance executive accused of fraud.
In the week preceding the 2013 trial Michael was a guest speaker at the 9th Annual Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Crime, Compliance and Regulation Seminar at the Marriott Hotel in Grand Cayman. Michael presented a lecture to an international audience on the prosecution of organized crime and importance of the associated compliance and anti-money laundering legislation.
Advised large UK based University upon training of advocates in the Far East.
Michael receives regular instructions to advise clients from the Caribbean upon their prospects of successfully appealing against their sentence, including a “life lifer” whose case is currently before the ECHR
Michael has been appointed to serve as the Director of the International Law Committee of the Criminal Bar Association. During his tenure it is Michael's intention to ensure that productive and enduring links are forged with lawyers' associations worldwide.
Michael was a delegate at the World Bar Conference in London in May 2012 and maintains links with lawyers around the world
Speaker at Birmingham Law Society Seminar on ‘Eliminating the risk of doing business abroad’ (March 2014)
Michael is a member of the executive committee of the Criminal Bar Association. He is also a member of both the Midland and South East Circuits.
Michael is fully trained in the acceptance of Direct Access work and appears on the Bar Council register. He is also a member of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association & the Association of Commonwealth Criminal Lawyers.
Modern criminal litigation expertise
Michael recognised the growing importance of the use of technology within the courtroom and its significance in the investigation of serious crime at a very early stage. He has developed his technological expertise over the course of many years and is now recognised as a leader in the field
Michael has demonstrated a particular expertise in the analysis and presentation of complex telephone and cell site evidence. In 2016 he prosecuted a series of trials which involved extremely detailed attribution of large numbers of telephones which resulted in the convictions of senior gang members.
During the abovementioned prosecution of gang members for the New Years Day shooting of Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare Michael took exclusive responsibility for the presentation of the telephone evidence which proved to be instrumental in securing convictions.
In the trial of eight men charged with the running down of three men during the Birmingham riots of August 2011, Michael took the lead role in challenging the telephone evidence on behalf of all defendants – the prosecution “evidence” was demonstrated to be wholly unreliable and its disintegration contributed significantly to the acquittal of all defendants.
The use of mobile telephones and internet communication continues to present challenges during any serious criminal investigation – Michael has shown the ability to present the most complex technical evidence in a manner which juries understand.
Medical and psychiatric cases
Michael has demonstrated an expertise in cases involving complex psychiatric and medical issues with vulnerable defendants or witnesses. See the case of R v Williams (J) 2016/2017 (on going) below. In the case of R v Mann (see below) the evidence of the defendant’s diminished responsibility was addressed by a total of four forensic psychiatrists. Michael was responsible for conducting a number of conferences with the expert witnesses and presenting the complex arguments which arose.
In the case of R v Street (October 2014) the court required assistance with a detailed analysis of the provisions of MHA over the last 50 years. The defendant had been released from a hospital order fifteen years after committing the homicide of 5 entirely innocent individuals.
Michael represented a man accused of the murder of two “Big Issue” sellers in Birmingham city centre in October 2013. The prosecution originally indicted the defendant with two counts of murder but were persuaded to accept pleas to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility (R v Ward see below).
The “heavyweight” work with which Michael is involved generates complex financial investigations both during the trial process and post conviction. Michael has developed a reputation for his astute analysis of POCA litigation and is regularly instructed to conduct complex financial investigations for both the prosecution and the defence. The financial consequences for defendants in serious criminal cases can be devastating and Michael has the experience to ensure that the client achieves the best possible outcome.
Michael has also developed a reputation as an expert in cases involving young and/or vulnerable witnesses. He has a courtroom manner which allows him to adduce evidence from vulnerable witnesses in an effective but non-confrontational manner.
Michael’s ability to consider vast volumes of paperwork and assess that which is relevant to the client’s case has served him particularly well in large scale fraud investigations and other matters which have generated substantial unused, but potentially relevant material.
Michael is currently instructed in a large scale fraud case see R v Hough which involves allegations of conspirators mimicking official government websites in respect of tax, driving licence renewal etc - the case has attracted widespread national press coverage. The trial in September 2017 is due to last 4 months.
Michael defended a business man accused of a multi-million pound fraud upon his business customers - the allegations involved business deals conducted out of the jurisdiction. The case required a detailed analysis of the conduct of the business over a number of years and an examination of the relevance of previous proceedings brought against a former company.
Michael has been involved in the prosecution of a number of large scale drugs conspiracies with the consequent POCA hearings - on numerous occasions the POCA proceedings have applied to 20+ defendants. He was required to produce responses to each application and/or negotiate settlements where necessary.
Michael has also received private instructions to represent clients in POCA proceedings
He has also provided advice upon the prospects of successfully overturning a conviction in the Court of Appeal. The case involved complex issues of cross-border jurisdiction
Michael regularly receives private instructions. Clients have recognised the potential advantages of instructing counsel on a private basis for a variety of offences. Michael has undertaken privately funded work for clients accused of fraud, sexual offences, serious allegations of violence and serious driving matters, both nationally and internationally
"He's a very keen prosecutor and he's excellent at defence too." "He is one of the best silks in the Midlands. He is hard-working, jury-friendly and he attracts the immediate trust of the most demanding of defendants – a genuine pleasure to work with."
Chambers UK, 2017
"Specialises in cases involving serious organised crime and fraud."
Legal 500 2016
"A natural, with a really good jury manner."
Chambers UK, 2016
SHORTLISTED IN THE LEGAL 500 2015 AWARDS FOR REGIONAL SILK OF THE YEAR.
‘A superb choice of silk – he possesses the legal and advocacy finesse required of the title.’
Legal 500, 2015
Focuses on the prosecution and defence of serious organised crime. He is particularly noted for his expertise in complex and high-profile homicide and drug conspiracies. "His empathy with the client is brilliant, as is his ability to grasp complex and unusual areas of law."
Chambers UK 2015
'He is solidly grounded and has a common-sense approach.'
Legal 500 2014
"He has an eye for detail, prepares his work meticulously and is good with the clients."
Chambers UK 2014
The ‘excellent’ Michael Duck QC, who has a ‘well-deserved reputation’
Legal 500 2014
Michael Duck QC has a healthy appellate practice, and undertakes both publicly and privately funded work. He recently appeared for the prosecution in R v Khan and others, a drugs supply case involving complicated issues of disclosure and admissibility against 14 defendants.
Chambers UK 2014
Michael Duck QC is a ‘highly skilled and effective advocate’ with a ‘wealth of experience’;
Legal 500 2012
"Highly skilled and effective advocate with a wealth of experience"
Legal 500 2012
'Approachable and highly effective' Michael Duck was instructed in the M40 Hells Angels shooting.
Legal 500 2009
2017 R v Mansell
Leading counsel in the representation of a man co-accused with seven others of conspiracy to murder. Allegations of torture over a period of time.
2016/2017 R v Williams (J)
Leading counsel in the representation of a man jointly accused of the murder of his former partner . Case was listed for trial in August 2016 but was adjourned until January 2017 because significant psychiatric issues were identified but disputed by the crown.
2016 R v Lander
Prosecution of a homeless man who was accused of murdering a friend who had offered him a place to sleep. The defendant pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial.
2016 R v Hough
Representation of an accountant accused of taking part in fraud which is alleged to have involved imitating Government “provision of service” websites (3 months trial in September 2016)
2016 R v Downie
Leading counsel instructed in the representation of a teenager accused of being part of a group that shot dead another teenager in a car as a result of a drugs dispute.
2016 Operation Fry
Leading counsel instructed in the multi-handed prosecution of teenage gang members involved in the supply of class A drugs using firearms to enforce their will. There were complex issues around disclosure and involvement was from the pre-charge phase.
2016 Operation Predominately
Leading prosecution counsel of a large scale drugs conspiracy involving twelve defendants including significant disclosure issues
2016 R v Jones
Representation of a man accused of involvement in a joint enterprise shooting. Legal arguments re joint enterprise and bad character. The defendant was acquitted of murder and further charges whilst his co- defendants were convicted.
2016 Atkar v R
Private representation of an appellant before the Court of Appeal in respect of a large scale drugs conspiracy. Sentence reduced
2015 /2016 Operation Navigator/Staunch
Leading counsel for the prosecution in the prosecution of a target criminal accused of two separate conspiracies to murder. Detailed legal arguments in respect of disclosure, joinder, representation etc
2015 Operation Jitiri
Instructed to prosecute two men aged 16 and 18 charged with the murder of an entirely innocent passer-by. Significant arguments settled re bad character
2015 Appeal in the case of Myles (Cayman Islands)
Representation of a well known businessman before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal (presided over by 3 former UK Lord Justices of Appeal)
2015 Operation Exit
Leading Counsel for the Prosecution – multi-handed drugs conspiracy involving sophisticated importation of heroin from Pakistan
2015 R v Manderson
Leading Counsel representing a man charged with murder in a gang-related shooting in Grand Cayman
2015 R v Hagan
Representation of a security officer at Ashworth Hospital charged with misconduct in a public office, involved in selling photographs of serial killer Ian Brady (Moors Murderer) to The News of the World . Part of Operation Elvedon
2015 R v Bennett
Representation of an elderly man charged with the murder of his dementia suffering wife
2015 R v Williams
Representation of a local chef accused of murdering his estranged partner
2015 R v Chambili
Representation of an Afghani national accused of murder as a result of an ongoing dispute with a local gang
2014/2015- Operation Sift 2
Leading Counsel for the prosecution. The large scale supply of class A and B drugs nationwide
2014 R v Street
2014 -R v Welch
Representation of a criminology student charged with attempted murder of a teenager
2014- R v Doherty
Leading counsel representing of a 27 year old man jointly accused of murder along with his young girlfriend and her father
2014 –R v Yacoub
Private representation of a man accused of wounding with intent upon a fellow Assyrian in a social club on New Years Eve….
2014- R v Marks
Private representation of an ex- Magistrate accused of dangerous driving after crashing into a Costa Coffee shop in Stratford upon Avon
2014 - R v Turner
Representation of a man alleged to have failed to have checked the documentation of horsemeat potentially liable to enter the food chain. Michael was instructed to defend the abattoir owner accused of unlawfully allowing horses to be disposed of at his premises without the requisite identification documents. The prosecution was not proceeded with after skeleton arguments were settled by defence dealing with the proper interpretation of the relevant EU.
2014 - R v Lomas
Representing a man accused of transporting live sheep in a manner which was likely to cause them injury. The case attracted significant national press interest and involved the complex interpretation of the relevant EU legislation in respect of "strict liability"
2013/4 - R v Foster
Leading counsel for the defendant accused of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to defraud. The prosecution alleged that he had dishonestly run a hot tub supply company and defrauded customers of approximately £3m as a result of non-delivery of goods. The case involved complex bad character and disclosure matters
2013 - R v Reynolds
Leading Counsel for the defendant. A 23 year old man accused of the abduction and murder of a 17 year old daughter of a serving police officer and abandoning her body in North Wales (the case attracted national publicity)
2013/4 – Operation Sift 1
Leading Counsel for the prosecution. The large scale supply of class A and B drugs nationwide with international links. The case involved 40+ defendants
2013 – R v Hurlston (Grand Court Cayman Islands)
Leading Counsel for the defendant accused of the attempted murder of a man by stabbing. The injured party received catastrophic injuries from which he will only make a limited recovery
2013 - R v Dodd and others
Leading counsel for the prosecution. The largest drugs conspiracy in Shropshire involving 29 defendants dealing in large amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and cannabis. Complex POCA proceedings.
2013 - R v Ward
Leading defence counsel representing a man accused of stabbing to death two "Big Issue" sellers at peak commuter time in Birmingham City Centre. There was significant national and local publicity
2013 - R v Aslam – Operation Grey - multi handed drugs importation Leading counsel for the prosecution in a multi-million pound drugs conspiracy due to last up to three months and involve multiple defendants. Complex technological evidence, financial evidence and disclosure issues will arise.
2012 R v Sutherland et al – travelling community murder
Leading counsel for a defendant charged with perverting the course of justice and obstructing the coroner arising from a murder and the subsequent disposal of the body.
2012 R v Masefield – “cold case” murder
Leading counsel for a defendant charged with the murder of his closest friend over 20 years ago. The body was discovered in a drain months after the deceased went missing and was originally believed to have been a suicide. The case involved complex issues in respect of pathology
2012 R v Ruiz-Guivara – alleged triple “running down” murder during the Birmingham 2011 riots
Leading counsel for one the defendants charged with three "running down" murders arising from the riots in Birmingham in Summer 2011. The prosecution alleged a multi-handed "joint enterprise". Numerous arguments involving encouragement/participation and disclosure arose at the trial. The trial lasted for 13 weeks resulting in the acquittal of all defendants. The case attracted significant national publicity
2012 R v Rashid – murder with deceased dumped in the canal Leading counsel for a defendant charged with the murder of a female associate whose body was discovered bound in a canal. Contentious legal arguments in respect of causation.
2012 R v Mann – murder of partner
Leading counsel for a man accused of killing his partner due to pending relationship breakdown. Complex diminished responsibility arguments
2012 R v Guoga – murder amongst the Polish community Leading counsel for a Polish national accused of the murder of a colleague whilst in drink
2011 R v Mahmood – revenge shooting
Leading counsel for one of three defendants charged with conspiracy to murder arising from the shooting of a man in Reading. The case involved complex telecommunications and cell site evidence.
2011 R v Kennedy et al – robbery involving death of victim
Leading prosecution counsel in the case of 9 defendants charged with the robbery and kidnap of a foreign lorry driver who died from a heart attack during the commission of the offence.
2011 R v Asif Khan – multi-handed drugs conspiracy
Leading prosecution counsel for a 15 defendant Sussex/West Midlands CPS and police prosecution. The case involved the nationwide distribution of large quantities of class A drugs. It was described as one of the most complex enquiries ever launched by Sussex police.
2011 R v Brown – privately funded death by dangerous driving Insurance funded defence of a young school teacher charged with causing death by dangerous driving
2010 - Operations Variation and Sniper
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of further multi-handed class A drugs conspiracies involving gang related activity.
2008 - R v Rafiq –“hitman” murder in Handsworth
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a man described by the trial judge as a “professional hitman”.
2010 - R v Singh – people trafficking
Defence junior counsel for a man accused of being the “right hand man” in a multi-handed people trafficking allegation in a trial lasting 3 months. It was the largest criminal trial undertaken by East Midlands Complex Casework Unit.
2010 - R v Akram – large scale financial fraud
Defence counsel for a legal professional alleged to have been involved in a multi-handed large scale mortgage fraud.
2010 - R v Yasin – sexual breach of trust
Defence counsel for a school teacher accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a 15 year old student over a period of 2 years.
2009 - R v Carty – shooting by gang member
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of a leading member of a notorious local gang. The defendant was convicted of the attempted murder of an innocent student during a social event at Loughborough University. The defendant had utilised a firearm.
2009 - R v Biddle – love triangle murder
Junior defence counsel representing a female business manager charged with the murder of her “love rival”.
2009 - Operations Clean and Pineneedle
Leading junior counsel in the prosecution of 18 suppliers of class A drugs in the West Midlands area. A number of the defendants were gang members and their drug dealing activities financed the criminal behaviour of the respective gangs. The defendants were convicted and I received a commendation for my efforts from the Chief Superintendent in charge of the enquiry.
2008 - R v Stephenson – gang murder
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a leading member of the violent “Burger Bar Crew” for the murder and attempted murders of opposition gang members.
2008 - R v Garside et al (Operation Bangkok) – “M40 Bikers case” Defence junior counsel representing one of the defendants in the “M40 Biker’s” murder trial. The prosecution alleged that the defendants were all members of a bike gang’s chapter and had conspired to kill an opposing gang’s member. The trial attracted international publicity.
2006 - R v Waqar Ahmed – murder during the 2007 Birmingham riots Defence junior counsel representing one of the men accused of the racially motivated murder of a male during riots in inner city Birmingham. The defendant was initially convicted but the conviction was successfully appealed as a result of significant non-disclosure by the prosecution. The defendant was acquitted at the re-trial.
2004 - R v Martin et al (Operation Stansted) – New Year’s Day shooting of Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis
Prosecution junior counsel. The case involved the prosecution of local gang members for the murder of two innocent girls, Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare, at an “after party”. The murders arose as a result of a long running dispute between Birmingham’s two largest gangs. The case involved international publicity. The convictions were achieved by relying on pseudonym witnesses, telephone cell site analysis. The preparation for trial involved the assessing upwards of 250,000 documents for disclosure purposes. The convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeal and the matter awaits a listing in the European Court of Human Rights.
2002 - In the appeal of Jeremy Bamber
Junior defence counsel at the appeal of Jeremy Bamber. The appellant had been convicted of the murder of his mother, father, sister and nephews in their own home. The appeal was the largest single appellant appeal to be heard in the UK at the time. The case still attracts significant media interest.
1996 - R v Bell et al (Operation Asia/Laura)
Prosecution junior barrister in the prosecution of a local gang which was engaged in robberies of innocent victims culminating in two murders when met with resistance. The case was one of the largest murder enquiries in the West Midlands and signalled the beginning of significant gang “warfare” in the West Midlands area. The case was reported due to the complex custody time limits arguments which arose. The prosecution relied upon pseudonym witnesses and had to consider detailed disclosure matters.
The case attracted international press attention.
1996 - R v Sara Thornton
Prosecution junior counsel in the prosecution of a female for the murder of her allegedly violent husband. The case established the legal existence of “battered woman’s syndrome” when considering provocation in domestic murder/manslaughter cases. The case attracted international press attention.