Michelle Brewer

Year of Call: 1999

"Highly intelligent and has an impressive breadth of legal knowledge. She provides excellent client care especially for vulnerable clients."

Chambers UK, 2019

"Fiercely intelligent, clear and incisive, she can manage very complex and high-profile cases"

Legal 500, 2019

"A strong track record of representing victims of human trafficking."

Legal 500, 2016

"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, 2017

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Michelle specialises in judicial review, human rights and civil claims against public authorities and regularly accepts instructions from individuals, companies and solicitors in respect of private immigration work.

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.

Administrative and Public Law

Overview

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

Her practice includes cases involving immigration detention, child rights, transgender rights, trafficking and discrimination. Michelle has brought key anti-trafficking challenges against the Government including a challenge to the Secretary of State for the Home Department's policy to detain pregnant women.

Michelle is one of the founders of the Trans Equality Legal Initiative, the first UK-wide initiative to empower and highlight trans rights.

Notable Cases

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) 39 - Michelle 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.

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Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery

Overview

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 was published in February 2018.

Michelle is regularly invited to attend and speak at expert roundtables and conferences concerning issues of trafficking. She 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.

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.

R v VCL [2017]EWCA Crim 36, [2017] WLR(D) 90- This 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.

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TRANS* 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.

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.

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DISCRIMINATION

Overview

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.

Notable Cases

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.

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CHILD RIGHTS

Overview

Michelle represents children in international protection claims, challenges to adverse trafficking decisions and appeals against criminal convictions.

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 child trafficked victim bringing a claim against her trafficker.

M, 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. Two of the three appellants were minors at date of conviction.

L & Ors [2013] EWCA Crim 99 - Successful 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) 90 - This 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].

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IMMIGRATION: ASYLUM AND HUMAN RIGHTS

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.

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CROSS-BORDER FAMILY CASES

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.

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Immigration Law

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.

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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.

She 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 co-author and editor of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery: Law and Practice (Bloomsbury), which was published in February 2018.

Latest News

Supreme Court reasserts the role of medical experts in asylum claims by torture survivors

The appellant was represented by Ronan Toal and Michelle Brewer. Stephanie Harrison QC, Ali Bandegani and Mark Symes for the interveners.

6 March 2019

Important Court of Appeal judgment for victims of human trafficking

A number of defendants and the intervener were represented by counsel from Garden Court Chambers.

15 February 2017

Garden Court and Stephanie Harrison QC shortlisted for Human Rights and Public Law awards

Garden Court has been shortlisted at the Chambers Bar Awards, whilst Stephanie and our Public Law Team are shortlisted at the Legal 500 Awards.

21 October 2016

Chambers UK Bar Guide ranks Garden Court in Band 1

Garden Court Chambers recognised as a leading set for immigration, social housing, civil liberties, police law, Court of Protection, crime and inquests and public inquiries.

30 October 2015

Home Office to review detention of pregnant women

Stephanie Harrison QC and Michelle Brewer of Garden Court Chambers acted for the claimant in this groundbreaking case.

6 October 2015

Landmark Supreme Court judgment on human trafficking

Team of Garden Court barristers instructed by Anti-Slavery International in key Supreme Court case.

30 July 2014

Court of Appeal rules immigration detention of mentally ill woman unlawful

The Court of Appeal in a test case on Tuesday overturned a decision of the Administrative Court in relation to Home Office policy of detaining those subject to immigration control with a serious mental illness.

30 January 2014

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Education

  • LLB (Hons)

Professional Membership

  • Anti-Trafficking Legal Practitioners (ATLeP)
  • Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA)

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