Michael’s advocacy career began when he obtained his Higher Rights of Audience (Criminal Proceedings) almost immediately after qualification as a solicitor in 2013. He initially practised as a criminal defence and duty solicitor, appearing on a daily basis in the Magistrate’s Court and frequently in the Crown Court. From late 2014 to early 2020, he was a Lawyer and then Senior Lawyer at the Independent Officer for Police Conduct (IOPC), where he advised on a wide range of legal issues in cases of the utmost complexity and seriousness. He continued to practice and develop his advocacy while at the IOPC, obtaining his Higher Rights of Audience (Civil Proceedings) in 2017. His range of expertise and experience is impressive: he has appeared in countless cases in criminal and civil courts and before police disciplinary panels, coroner’s inquests and mental health tribunals. His advocacy has drawn judicial praise in the Adminsitrative Court.
Michael's commitment to advocacy at the highest level led almost inevitably to the Bar where he was called in 2020. He now serves on the Attorney General’s C Panel of experts (North Eastern Region).
Since call to the bar in 2020, Michael has a quickly established a substantial private law practice, particularly in the areas of personal injury, credit hire and other insurance litigation. He has also acted in contract, Partnership Act and housing disputes. He acts for both claimants and defendants, appearing regularly in small and fast track trials, applications and other hearings. With his knowledge and experience of police, public and human rights law, he is particularly well placed to assist with civil claims against the police and other public authorities.
Michael also has a growing public law practice. He acts for claimants and public authorities in claims for judicial review. He has substantial experience of litigating such cases and has received judicial praise for his advocacy in the Administrative Court. He has particular expertise in police and regulatory related matters. He also has experience of judicial review and civil damages claims involving human rights issues.
Michael is very familiar with the Tribunals system. He has successfully represented individuals before various chambers of the First-tier Tribunal and particularly welcomes instructions in mental health and regulatory matters.
He masters the detail of each case and prepares meticulously but never loses sight of the larger issues. He has a deep commitment to the importance of representation and the larger issues of civil/human rights.
Michael takes instructions from families, public authorities and other interested persons (IPs). He has acted at inquests involving road traffic collisions, mental health patients and prisoners.
He recently acted at a 4-day inquest for the family of a young man with paranoid schizophrenia and Asperger’s syndrome, who tragically took his own life while on informal leave from hospital. The case raised complex arguments around article 2 of the ECHR. Acting initially on a pro-bono basis, Michael successfully argued that article 2 was engaged, thus enabling the family to secure exceptional case funding for the inquest itself. Michael’s cross examination of the Healthcare Trust’s witnesses exposed issues with the Trust’s policies and processes for monitoring and assessing patients following a significant event, suggesting a deterioration in their mental health. It also exposed issues with staff training and understanding of the Trust’s missing person’s policy.
Michael's experience and knowledge of police matters make him particularly well placed to represent families and other interested persons at inquests and inquiries involving alleged police failings or misconduct. He has advised and represented IPs in complex and high-profile police cases, including police shootings.
Michael believes firmly that families should be represented at contentious inquests, particularly those involving state agencies. Aware that funding is often dependent upon a ruling that article 2 is engaged, he is happy to represent families on a pro-bono basis prior to the coroner’s ruling on that issue, in appropriate cases.
Michael was a lawyer and subsequently senior lawyer with the IOPC from 2014 to 2020. Since call to the bar in March 2020, he has continued to practice extensively in this area. He has advised on complex and high-profile police discipline matters, including police shootings, fatal police pursuits, deaths in custody and large-scale IOPC investigations, such as Hillsborough and Rotherham. He has also appeared for the IOPC at police disciplinary hearings and in judicial reviews relating to the police complaints and discipline systems.
The breadth of Michael’s experience enables him to provide a holistic service. As well as representation at police misconduct hearings, he can advise in connection with misconduct and criminal investigations conducted by appropriate authorities or the IOPC. He can also advise and represent clients in related inquests, inquiries or claims for judicial review.
Although his background is primarily in police discipline matters, Michael is familiar with broader principles of professional discipline and regulatory law. He can assist individuals subject to professional disciplinary proceedings. He is also well equipped to advise and represent regulatory bodies on a wide range of legal issues, including when their decisions are challenged in judicial review proceedings or before the First-tier Tribunal (Regulatory Chamber).
Michael has a developing criminal law practice. As a former duty solicitor, Higher Court Advocate and senior lawyer for the IOPC, he has significant knowledge and experience of criminal law. He has appeared in both the Magistrates and Crown Courts and has advised on complex and high-profile criminal investigations.
LLB (Hons) 2(i), Queen’s University Belfast (2007)
LLM International Development Law and Human Rights (Distinction, 1st in year), Warwick University (2008)
Legal Practice Course (Distinction), Nottingham Trent University (2011)
Solicitor: Admitted to roll 2013 (practising 2013-2020)
Attorney General Regional C Panel (North Eastern Region) (2021)
Fee-paid Judge of the First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) (2019)