Michael joined No5 in October 2018. As set out in more detail below, he has interests across the spectrum of public law and human rights and related civil actions.
He has an established background in cases concerning individuals affected by mental ill-health which predates his time at the Bar and which he is keen to continue. He is supervised by Philip Rule and Ian Brownhill but takes on a significant amount of his own work.
Reflecting the breadth of his background, Michael also accepts instructions in a small number of criminal and employment law matters.
Actions against the state
Michael has a particular focus on actions against the police and other detaining authorities in all of their forms; especially claims involving alleged breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. With that in mind, he has been an active member of the Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG) and more recently joined the Inquest Lawyers Group (ILG).
Inquests and inquiries
Michael is working to build an inquest practice that compliments his background in actions against state bodies. He has had early success in securing the engagement of Article 2 ECHR in an inquest and the attendant prospect of public funding, in the face of robust written and oral submissions to the contrary from a Silk and a senior junior on behalf of the two other interested parties.
Michael is a member of the external legal team, acting for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in its project “Following Grenfell”, examining the human rights implications following the tragic fire on 14 June 2017.
He is also a member of the document review team supporting the Dobbs Review relating to events at HBOS reading between 2009 and 2017.
Michael appears regularly in the First-Tier Tribunal in education cases. In particular, he has appeared in appeals concerning Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
He has also been instructed in a number of appeals against the permanent exclusion of school children and has often done so pro bono for organisations such as Just for Kids Law (JFKL). In doing so, he has secured reconsideration and reinstatement of pupils, on a number of occasions. More recently, he has appeared on behalf of the parents of a pupil excluded from school in circumstances which, it is alleged, amount to disability discrimination. Judgment in that case is awaited.
Michael has a rapidly growing practice in Prison Law. He appears in both adjudications and parole boards, on behalf of prisoners, where he has already enjoyed success.
Mental health and Court of Protection
Michael has represented individuals challenging decisions to section them under the Mental Health Act 1983 before the Mental Health Tribunal. Prior to coming to the Bar, he was permitted to do this work as a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health Accreditation Scheme. He has secured a number of positive outcomes for his clients, ranging from variations to conditions on discharge into the community to discharge from section altogether.
His clients have included those affected by the criminal, as well as civil provisions of the 1983 Act. This also includes individuals who have been detained in medium and high secure conditions.
With that experience of mental health work, Michael is eager to develop a practice in Court of Protection matters.
Before coming to No5
Michael qualified to practise at Matrix Chambers, where he worked across a number of practice areas and was involved in a number of complex and high-profile cases.
Before coming to the Bar, Michael developed extensive experience in the public law and human rights field. As the Sir Peter Duffy Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn, he completed a Stage at the European Court of Human Rights, in 2012. He has been a paralegal at Deighton Pierce Glynn and Bindmans LLP.
From there he became an Advice and Information Officer at Liberty, responsible for co-ordinating their public legal advice service. He has subsequently been elected to Liberty’s Policy Council and Executive Board.
French – conversational
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry (2018-present)
Junior member of the external legal team instructed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as part of its project “Following Grenfell”. The project aims to examine and increase public awareness of the numerous human rights issues relevant to the fire, including in respect of the on-going public inquiry.
Michael is a member of the document review team supporting the independent review being undertaken by Dame Linda Dobbs DBE and commissioned by Lloyd’s Banking Group (“LBG”). The review is considering whether a range of issues at HBOS Reading between 19 January 2009 and 30 January 2017 were investigated and appropriately reported to authorities following LBG’s acquisition of the Halifax Bank of Scotland.
Inquest touching upon the death of Joshua Blackham (2018-2019)
Appearing before the Area Coroner for Reading, Michael successfully argued that there had been an arguable failure by Surrey Police to take all reasonable steps to prevent the real and immediate risk of Joshua’s self-inflicted death. The Coroner’s ruling followed lengthy written, as well as oral submissions and fierce resistance by Surrey Police and a separately represented police officer. Michael was instructed pro-bono by Saunders Law, working with INQUEST.
X v A Police Force (2019)
Michael has recently advised and pleaded a successful civil claim of assault against by a Police Force after his client’s forcible arrest. Having maintained its intention to the defend the claim in pre-action correspondence, the Defendant settled the claim after service of the particulars of claim and also agreed to pay the Claimant’s legal costs at inter-partes rates. Michael was instructed by Matthew Gold and Company solicitors.
Working with Saunders Law, Michael completed disclosure review in preparation for the inquest into the death of Terry Smith. He died in police custody, following prolonged restraint, in November 2013. A Coroner’s jury went on to find that neglect contributed to Mr Smith’s death. It also delivered a narrative verdict that was highly critical of a number of failings by Surrey Police to identify and appropriately respond to Mr Smith demonstrable mental health crisis.
Cassel Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn
Sir Peter Duffy Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn
Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG)
Inquest Lawyers Group (ILG)
Human Rights Lawyers Association
Law (LLB, hons)