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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

Chambers UK Bar Guide

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

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

“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


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.

  • Immigration detention
  • Child rights
  • Transgender rights
  • Trafficking
  • Discrimination
  • Asylum
  • Business immigration
  • Public and private international family law

Transgender rights

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.

Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)

Michelle is regularly instructed to make applications to the CCRC on behalf of victims of trafficking and has succeeded in obtaining references to the appellate courts where convictions have gone on to be quashed.

International protection claims

Michelle is regularly instructed to represent victims of trafficking before the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (IAC).

Civil claims

Michelle is currently instructed in several claims brought by trafficked victims against the UK Government. The claims concern the failure to protect the victims and failure to effectively investigate their allegations of trafficking.

Child rights

Michelle also 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.

Private immigration and appellate work

Michelle is regularly instructed by top legal 500 immigration firms to advise on the migration needs of international business people and those of UK-based companies.

Notable Cases



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.

Criminal appeal cases

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 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.

European Court of Human Rights

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.

Unlawful detention

Michelle is currently instructed in a challenge against the SSHD’s policy to detain pregnant women.

PA v Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD)
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.

Das v SSHD [2014] WLR(D) 39
Michelle was instructed as junior counsel in this successful challenge to the lawfulness of detaining a mental health sufferer.

Detention Action v SSHD [2014] EWHC 2245 (Admin) (EHRC intervening)
Michelle was junior counsel on behalf of the intervener 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.”


  • Michelle has been a contributor to Macdonald’s Immigration Law and Practicesince the 8th Edition, 2010. Michelle is the senior contributing author of the chapter, ‘Trafficking in human beings’, in the upcoming edition
  • Michelle is a contributor to Blackstones Criminal Law Practice, 2015, Chapter 22 ‘Immigration offences’
  • “The Prosecution of Child Victims of Trafficking” [2012] 4 Archbold Review4-6 (article analysing the Court of Appeal’s judgment in R v N and Le [2012] EWCA Crim 189 (20 February 2012)
  • Michelle will be co-author of an upcoming practitioners guide to representing trafficking victims in domestic criminal and asylum proceedings

Professional memberships and advisory work

  • Joint co-ordinator of the Anti-Trafficking Legal Practitioners group and has given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee on their behalf
  • Works closely with organisations such as Anti-Slavery International, Kalayaan, FLEX and ECPAT UK (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children)
  • Regularly instructed by organisations to advise on the UK’s implementation of the International and Regional instruments on Trafficking in Human Beings. These organisations include the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and FLEX
  • Invited as an expert speaker by GRETA to train lawyers in South Eastern Europe on the application of ECAT, the Trafficking Directive and Article 4 of ECHR