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Home > Barristers > Michelle Brewer

Michelle Brewer

  • Call: 1999
Michelle Brewer

“Very highly regarded for her expertise on immigration detention and trafficking cases. With an established track record of being at the forefront of trafficking case law, she is renowned for her handling of cases where children and vulnerable witnesses are involved.”

Chambers UK Bar Guide

Practice

Michelle specialises in judicial review, human rights and civil claims against public authorities.  She has acted at all levels including at the Supreme Court.  Michelle acts for claimants, NGOs and other organisations.

Her practice includes cases involving immigration detention, child rights, transgender rights, trafficking, discrimination, asylum, business immigration and both public and private international family law.

Michelle is a co-founder of the Trans* Equality Legal Initiative.

What others say

“Excellent with vulnerable clients, she provides first-class, family-based immigration advice. Very impressed with how quickly she digests information and turns it into a compelling argument.” – Chambers UK Bar Guide 2017

“A strong track record of representing victims of human trafficking.” – Legal 500 2017

“A true specialist in the illegal inter-country transfer of persons, who has been selected by the Council of Europe to provide evidence and training on these issues. She is also well versed in the global protection of vulnerable groups such as children and those targeted because of their gender. “She is good on sensitive cases re women/trafficking and she does a lot of pro bono work.” “She is very nice, open and easy-going.”Chambers UK Bar Guide 2015

Publications

Since 2010, Michelle has been a contributing author to Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice (LexisNexis), the UK’s leading practitioner textbook in immigration law. Michelle was the senior/lead author of the first dedicated trafficking chapter in Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practice (LexisNexis) in the 9th ed. Michelle is also a contributing author to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice, one of the main practitioner texts in criminal law, with responsibility for the ‘Immigration Offences’ chapter. Michelle is the co-author of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Law and Practice (Bloomsbury), which will be published in August 2017.

Michelle represents claimants and NGOs in a broad range of public law and human rights cases.  She has acted at all levels including at the Supreme Court and Strasbourg.  Her key cases include:

  • R (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] All ER (D) 107. Michelle is junior counsel in the upcoming Supreme Court case.  This appeal concerns, inter alia, the interpretation and scope of particular provisions in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the interplay of these provisions with the ECHR and the Equality Act.
  • PA v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) CO/1978/2014 – Michelle was junior counsel in the judicial review of the SSHD’s decision to detain a pregnant woman. This was a public interest challenge brought against the SSHD’s policy and practice of detaining pregnant women under immigration powers. The Home Office conceded the case, agreed to review its policy on pregnant women in detention, issue a new Detention Service Order and pay PA compensation for unlawful detention.
  • MS, ZG and MKW v Secretary of State for the Home Department CO/2037/2016 – Michelle is junior counsel on three linked judicial review claims challenging the lawfulness of the detention of three pregnant women.  These cases are ongoing.
  • Das v SSHD [2014] WLR(D) 39Michelle was instructed as junior counsel in this successful challenge to the lawfulness of detaining a mental health sufferer.  This case concerned the interpretation and application of Ch.55.10 as it applied to those suffering from serious mental health conditions.
  • Detention Action v SSHD [2014] EWHC 2245 (Admin) (EHRC intervening) – Michelle was junior counsel on behalf of the intervener [EHRC] in this landmark challenge which found that there are “serious failings” in the Detained Fast Track (DFT) as a result of which “the DFT as operated carries an unacceptably high risk of unfairness.”
  • AM v SSHD CO/1159/2016 – This was a challenge brought against the standard of proof applied to conclusive grounds decisions and the lawfulness of the Competent Authority Policy for victims of trafficking.

Michelle is regularly instructed to represent trafficking victims in a broad range of public law and human rights cases.  She was the senior contributing author of the ‘Trafficking in Human Beings’ chapter in Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practices.  She is co-author and editor of an upcoming practitioners text on representing trafficking victims in criminal, public law and immigration proceedings: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Law and Practice (Bloomsbury), which will be published in August 2017.

Michelle is regularly invited to attend and speak at expert roundtables and conferences concerning issues of trafficking.  Michelle has been invited by the Council of Europe Expert body on Trafficking [GRETA] to train lawyers in South Eastern Europe on applying international and regional legal principles in trafficking to domestic cases.  Her key cases include:

  • Hounga v Allen [2014] UKSC 47 – Michelle was junior counsel instructed for the intervener, Anti-Slavery International (ASI). A majority of the Supreme Court justices accepted ASI’s submissions that the defence of illegality should not apply to a trafficked victim bringing a claim against her trafficker.
  • R v VCL [2017]EWCA Crim 36, [2017] WLR(D) 90This was an appeal brought by a criminal cases review commission reference.  The appeal was presided over by the Lord Chief Justice.  It was an appeal against the previous Lord Chief Justice’s judgment in R v N and R v Le [2012] EWCA Crim 189 (20 February 2012).  Michelle was junior counsel for VL.  The issues concerned the definition of trafficking, and in particular exploitation as it pertains to children and the interplay with the non-punishment provisions of the Trafficking Convention [ECAT].
  • AM v SSHD CO/1159/2016 – This was a challenge brought against the standard of proof applied to conclusive grounds decisions and the lawfulness of the Competent Authority Policy for victims of trafficking.
  • FE [2014] EWCA Crim 1397 – Michelle was instructed in this appeal against the conviction of a trafficked woman convicted of using false documents. The Crown conceded the conviction to be unsafe and FE’s conviction was subsequently quashed.
  • L & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 99 – Successful test case concerning the application of the non-punishment provisions of the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking and the EU Trafficking Directive to children recovered from working in cannabis farms, which lead to the appellants’ convictions being quashed.
  • LM, MB, DG, Betti Tabot and Yutunde Tijani [2010] EWCA Crim 2327 – Successful challenge to the convictions of three persons trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  • AZ (Trafficked Women) Thailand CG [2010] UKUT 118 (IAC) – Michelle was counsel in the country guidance decision of this case which concluded that trafficked women constituted a particular social group and set out the relevant factors that may assist in determining the risk of such women if returned to Thailand.
  • O.G.O. v United Kingdom (application no. 13950/12) – Michelle was instructed alongside the AIRE Centre in this successful prevention of removal under Rule 39 on behalf of a trafficked person on the basis of Articles 3 and 4. Subsequent to the submission of the application, O.G.O. was identified as a trafficked victim and granted refugee status by the UK Government.

Michelle is one of the founding members of the Trans Equality Legal Initiative.  This is the first UK-wide initiative aimed at empowering trans people to access legal protection and to support the learning of legal and other professionals who wish to work with the trans community in an inclusive and informed way.

Michelle is junior counsel in the upcoming Supreme Court appeal of R (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] All ER (D) 107. This appeal concerns, inter alia, the interpretation and scope of particular provisions in the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

In the coming year, Michelle will be part of an expert team producing and publishing a legal analysis of the Women and Equalities Committees Transgender Equality Inquiry and the Government’s response to this.

Michelle is one of the founding members of the Trans Equality Legal Initiative.  This is the first UK-wide initiative aimed at empowering trans people to access legal protection and to support the learning of legal and other professionals who wish to work with the trans community in an inclusive and informed way.

  • R (on the application of C) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] All ER (D) 107 – Michelle is junior counsel in the upcoming Supreme Court case.  This appeal concerns, inter alia, the interpretation and scope of particular provisions in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the interplay of these provisions with the ECHR and Equality Act 2010.
  • PA v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) CO/1978/2014 – Michelle was junior counsel in the judicial review of the SSHD’s decision to detain a pregnant woman. This was a public interest challenge brought against the SSHD’s policy and practice of detaining pregnant women under immigration powers. The Home Office conceded the case, agreed to review its policy on pregnant women in detention, issue a new Detention Service Order and pay PA compensation for unlawful detention.  The SSHD’s policy was challenged in part on grounds of direct and indirect discrimination [Equality Act 2010] as well as Article 14 of the ECHR.
  • ZA v SSHD (CO/1003/2016) – This is an unlawful detention challenge concerning an LGBTI detainee.  The issues include whether the detention policies in place are discriminatory and amount to harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010 as well as contrary to Article 14 ECHR.  Case is ongoing.

Michelle represents children in international protection claims, challenges to adverse trafficking decisions and appeals against criminal convictions.  Her key cases include:

  • Hounga v Allen [2014] UKSC 47 – Michelle was junior counsel instructed for the intervener, Anti-Slavery International (ASI). A majority of the Supreme Court justices accepted ASI’s submissions that the defence of illegality should not apply to a child trafficked victim bringing a claim against her trafficker.
  • M, MB, DG, Betti Tabot and Yutunde Tijani [2010] EWCA Crim 2327Successful challenge to the convictions of three persons trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.  Two of the three appellants were minors at date of conviction.
  • L & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 99Successful test case before the Lord Chief Justice, convening a specialist trafficking court.  The appeal concerning the application of the non-punishment provisions of the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking and the EU Trafficking Directive to children recovered from working in cannabis farms, which lead to the appellants’ convictions being quashed.
  • R v VCL [2017]EWCA Crim 36, [2017] WLR(D) 90This was an appeal brought by a criminal cases review commission reference.  The appeal was presided over by the Lord Chief Justice.  It was an appeal against the previous Lord Chief Justice’s judgment in R v N and R v Le [2012] EWCA Crim 189 (20 February 2012).  Michelle was junior counsel for VL.  The issues concerned the definition of trafficking, and in particular exploitation as it pertains to children and the interplay with the non-punishment provisions of the Trafficking Convention [ECAT].

Michelle primarily represents children and trafficking victims on appeal.  She has a particular interest and experience in representing separated children in their asylum and human rights appeals. One of Michelle’s strengths is her ability to represent the interests of extremely traumatised appellants and to fight rigorously on their behalf.

Michelle is regularly instructed jointly by the parties as an immigration expert to assist in family proceedings where one or several of the parties has ambiguous immigration status.

She is often instructed as junior counsel to Dr Kathryn Cronin in family proceedings [adoption and surrogacy] where there is an international and/or immigration dimension to the case.

Michelle will be a contributing author in an upcoming practitioners text on the international, regional and domestic legal frameworks on the movement of children.

Michelle is a direct access barrister and regularly accepts instructions from individuals, companies and solicitors in respect of private immigration work. Michelle is instructed by top legal 500 immigration firms to advise on the migration needs of international business people and those of UK-based companies. Michelle is very familiar with the points based system and regularly advises on applications under this scheme and is often instructed to assist in administrative and judicial reviews of adverse decisions under this scheme.

Michelle is often instructed on behalf of local authorities to assist in making applications to regularise the immigration status of children under their care. She has done this by order of the Family Court in cases where she has been an immigration expert witness, otherwise she has been approached directly by the local authorities.

Leading private immigration solicitor, Kathryn Bradbury (Partner at Payne, Hicks Beach) describes Michelle as follows:

“Michelle has a sharp intellect which is well suited to advising in private immigration litigation. She adopts a pragmatic approach to every case and is always willing to go the extra mile for clients to get the right result.”

Sarah Gogan, Partner at Fladgate LLP said:

“Michelle is an absolute star. She is a fighter and knows her stuff backwards. She is very approachable, engaging, persuasive and never gives up. She is a fearless advocate.”

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