Michael has a broad commercial practice in line with Chambers’ profile, with an emphasis on commercial, insolvency, property and construction matters.
He has been described by instructing solicitors as a ‘thorough, careful and unflappable’ advocate who is ‘easily approachable' and ‘very efficient in meeting particularly tight deadlines'. He regularly appears in both the High Court and the County Court.
Michael is a member of the Attorney General’s Junior Junior Panel and is able to take on relevant instructions.
Michael is also a contributor to Insurance Broking Practice and the Law (edited by CMS Cameron McKenna) and Construction Professional Indemnity Insurance (Sweet & Maxwell).
Before joining Gatehouse Chambers, Michael worked as an advocate in the County Court, appearing in a variety of general civil, bankruptcy, property and consumer credit hearings.
Michael previously studied Mandarin Chinese for a year in Beijing and recently returned to China to refresh his Mandarin skills. He intends to make use of Mandarin in his legal practice.
Outside of work, Michael enjoys riding motorcycles, boxing, diving and languages.
Areas of expertise
- Commercial dispute resolution
Commercial dispute resolution
Michael has a busy commercial practice and welcomes all commercial instructions, whether as sole or junior counsel. He regularly appears in both trial and interim applications. His practice embraces a range of commercial matters, with a particular emphasis on contractual interpretation – whether in the context of guarantees, loan agreements, settlement agreements or franchising disputes. He frequently advises in relation to litigation strategy.
Recent work has included:
- Being led by King’s Counsel (David Lewis KC) in respect of a franchising dispute turning on contractual construction.
- Being led by King’s Counsel (David Lewis KC) in a matter involving a dispute between the directors of a substantial healthcare and wellbeing company.
- Being led by King’s Counsel (David Lewis KC) in a commercial dispute regarding the performance and effect of a consultancy agreement.
- Obtaining a circa £1/3 million judgment in the High Court against directors of a company in respect of a claim involving the payment of unlawful dividends in breach of duties under the Companies Act 2006.
- Appearing in the High Court in respect of a dispute relating to damage caused as a result of the replacement of overhead pipeline crossings for the transportation of petroleum products.
- Regularly drafting pleadings for and successfully appearing on behalf of a multinational energy provider in respect of various claims made by it or against it, both at the consumer and commercial level.
- Successfully appearing on behalf of a major bank in a claim against the director guarantor of a company overdraft facility, securing indemnity costs.
- Obtaining summary judgment (and resisting a cross-application for summary judgment) in respect of the interpretation of a contractual clause within a complex settlement agreement between former business partners.
- Negotiating a highly favourable settlement agreement on behalf of a wholesale goods company against one of its commercial clients.
- Advising in respect of a defective stock transfer transaction between founding members of a start-up company.
- Successfully resisting an application to set aside judgment on behalf of a company specialising in the loaning of commercial machinery to business clients.
- Obtaining summary judgment on behalf of a waste management company against one of its commercial clients, securing indemnity costs.
- Being led by senior Counsel (Paul Strelitz) in respect of a claim involving the termination of a franchising agreement by a franchisee.
- Advising an estate agent in respect of contractual entitlement to commission regarding the sale of a circa £2,000,000 property.
- Assisting in advising in respect of the termination of a franchising agreement with an international dimension.
- Successfully resisting a claimant’s application to excise the defendant’s expert evidence.
- Successfully resisting an application to re-instate a contractual claim following strikeout.
- Drafting various statements of case and advices pursuant to claims engaging the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and associated regulations.
- Drafting advice in respect of a subrogation claim made by an insurer in an agricultural business context.
- Drafting advice in respect of a complex costs dispute arising from previous litigation.
- Being regularly instructed in relation to PPI disputes by various high street banks, arising out of allegations of unfairness under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
- Construction & engineering
Construction & engineering
Michael has growing experience in construction disputes including disputes involving insurance coverage.
Recent work includes:
- Providing written advice to a number of leaseholders in relation to a significant defects claim against a developer regarding penetrative damp to new build properties, involving complex questions of liability under several guarantees.
- Successfully obtaining strikeout of a claim on behalf of the defendant contractor under a JCT 2011 Minor Works Contract and associated warranty.
- Providing advice pursuant to the recoverability of liquidated damages arising from a JCT 2011 Design and Build Contract dispute.
- Drafting pleadings on the joint instruction of an insurer and insured pursuant to a JCT 2011 Minor Works Contract in the context of a contractor’s design and installation of a lift in a high-value London residential property.
- Drafting advice regarding the liability of a crane company following the collapse of a crane during operations on a major high street retailer premises.
- Drafting pleadings pursuant to a dispute between a contractor and a primary school following the disturbance of asbestos during building works.
- Assisting a senior member of Chambers regarding a high-value construction dispute, which is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal.
- Assisting in advising on the strategic, procedural and limitation elements of a defects claim made against the mechanical and engineering contractors in a substantial low-rise residential project.
- Producing written advice in respect of an insurance broker’s liability to its insured following a failure to notify the insurer of the discovery of combustible cladding across multiple projects.
- Drafting a Defence pursuant to a JCT 2011 Design and Build Sub-Contract payment dispute.
- Advising a residential occupier in respect of a nuisance claim arising from a neighbour’s construction works which caused damage to his property.
- Insolvency & restructuring
Insolvency & restructuring
Michael has a keen interest in bankruptcy and insolvency matters and has experience in both high-profile and smaller cases. He regularly appears in both the High Court and the County Court in such matters. He is particularly interested in the intersection between insolvency and property law.
Recent work includes:
- Being instructed by a Government department in the Kids Company directors’ disqualification proceedings in the High Court (Re Keeping Kids Company  EWHC 175 (Ch)).
- Successfully obtaining a circa £300,000 judgment in the High Court on behalf of the assignees of a liquidator’s claim against former directors of a company pursuant to breach of Companies Act duties, fiduciary duties and breach of trust.
- Advising in relation to the interaction between Part 7 and the insolvency regime in the context of a misfeasance claim.
- Successfully resisting an appeal in the High Court brought by a bankrupt, involving complex issues of capacity and associated litigation strategy.
- Regular High Court and County Court appearances pursuant to applications made by trustees and liquidators, including:
- Orders for possession and sale;
- Bankruptcy petitions and associated applications;
- Transactions at an undervalue;
- Winding up petitions;
- Applications for specific documentation.
- Assisting in advising in respect of a liquidator’s multi-million pound claim against the directors of a complex domestic and offshore umbrella scheme.
- Producing the first draft of a skeleton argument for a senior member of Chambers in the High Court in respect of a liquidator’s claim pursuant to resignation payments made by an LLP to its former partners.
- Assisting in advising in respect of claim made by a landlord against its former tenant following the tenant’s entry into a CVA.
- Successfully appearing in the Central Family Court on behalf of the trustees in bankruptcy pursuant to a jurisdictional dispute.
- Producing a Particulars of Claim in a claim made by a liquidator against former directors of a wholesale food company pursuant to an overdrawn director’s loan account.
Michael accepts instructions across the broad spectrum of property law, and is currently involved in a significant chain of commercial lease disputes between a major high street retailer/tenant and its landlords across its UK portfolio. He has particular experience in respect of the impact of COVID-19 on commercial rent arrears liability, as well as terminal dilapidations claims. He frequently appears in the County Court in relation to property instructions at both the interim and trial stage.
Recent work includes:
- Advising a major rail transport operator in respect of a number of disputes, including in relation to covenants, easements and rights of way regarding several sites across the UK.
- Drafting multiple statements of case/advices pursuant to arrears arising from commercial leases as a consequence of the global pandemic on both the claimant landlord and defendant tenant standpoints.
- Being led by senior Counsel (Phillip Patterson) in relation to a TOLATA 1996 dispute involving complex legal issues relating to common intention constructive trusts and proprietary estoppel.
- Regularly drafting dilapidations Particulars of Claim on behalf of commercial landlords.
- Obtaining a £250,000 judgment and costs order in respect of a loan agreement secured against a debtor’s property.
- Obtaining strikeout at trial of a leaseholder’s case on behalf of a freeholder in respect of an administration charges dispute.
- Obtaining a £75,000 judgment and full costs pursuant to a claim for rent arrears in respect of a high-value London property.
- Regular appearances in the County Court in respect of mortgage possession and landlord & tenant hearings.
- Advising and then successfully appearing in respect of possession proceedings against a tenant who was unlawfully subletting the property via the online platform Airbnb.
- Advising and drafting pleadings regarding a challenging unlawful eviction claim involving a tenant with complex mental health issues.
- Advising in respect of a possession claim involving complex questions of a potential unlawful eviction.
- Assisting a senior member of Chambers in a two-week trial pursuant to the enforceability of agreements between two directors regarding a significant property portfolio.
- Drafting an advice regarding a boundary dispute and alleged interference with a right of way.
- Assisting in advising in respect of a claim against a former commercial tenant which failed to remove its fixtures and fittings following departure from the premises.
- Producing written advice regarding the effect of various COVID legislation on the insolvency and property regime.
- BA English Literature, University College London (First Class)
- MA Medieval Literature, University College London (Merit)
- Graduate Diploma in Law, University of Law (Commendation)
- Bar Professional Training Course, University of Law (Very Competent)
- Lord Denning Scholarship, Lincoln’s Inn
- Provost’s Award for Excellence, University of Law
- Finalist, University of Law Negotiation Competition
University College London
- Four Departmental Commendations for outstanding academic performance over three years, voted for by faculty Professors
- Sports Colours for representing UCL at varsity level on two occasions at cruiserweight (84kg) (Muay Thai Kickboxing)
- President (2011), Head of Training (2012) and Head of Equipment/Finance (2010) of UCL Muay Thai Kickboxing society
- Mandarin Chinese – intermediate/advanced (spoken), intermediate (written/read). Completed HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) Chinese Language Level examinations: HSK 1, HSK 3 and HSK 4.
- French: conversational