Michael Lee

Michael Lee has a broad practice covering a range of Chambers’ areas of work. He has extensive advocacy experience and regularly appears in a range of courts and tribunals.

Michael is ranked in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500 (Employment law). In the 2018 editions Michael is labelled as “one to watch”. He is described as “responsive, bright and enjoyable to work with”, as someone who “provides sound and practical advice” and who is “good with clients, skilful, confident and persuasive”. Previous editions noted of Michael that “sources value his measured approach to sensitive matters”, described him as  “extremely thorough”, “extremely hard-working, diligent and able to pick up the facts of a case very quickly”, and commented that he is “very personable and good with the client”, “a shrewd and knowledgeable lawyer” who is “unflappable”, “down-to-earth” and “clearly very bright”.

Specialisms

Commercial

Michael undertakes a range of commercial work.  He is frequently instructed in cases involving injunctive relief and restraint of trade issues, for which his work is noted in Chambers and Partners 2018. He is regularly instructed in conspiracy and economic tort claims, as well as cases involving breaches of directors’ duties, fiduciary duties and duties of confidence.

Michael (led by Richard Leiper QC) recently acted for the Defendant in a restraint of trade matter that settled the day before a speedy trial was due to commence and (again led by Richard Leiper QC) is representing an alleged party to a team move conspiracy in a case listed for a 14 day trial in 2019. He is also (led by Sean Jones QC) currently acting for the Claimants in a case involving the enforceability of contractual terms requiring the repayment of training fees by departing employees. As sole counsel Michael recently advised the Claimants in a Commercial Court dispute involving contractual claims against Defendants in multiple jurisdictions. He has appeared in a three week trial concerning team moves, fiduciary duties, and conspiracy (Lonmar Global Risks Ltd v West & Ors [2011] IRLR 138, led by Richard Leiper) and acted as sole counsel in a 4 day High Court trial concerning breach of confidence and springboard relief (Personal Management Solutions Ltd v Brakes Bros Ltd [2014] EWHC 3495 (QB)).  Michael was also a member of a large team of counsel representing a former employee of an insurance brokerage in a case involving an alleged team move, which settled before a 5-week trial. He has also recently advised on an application to set aside service out in a claim under section 212 of the Insolvency Act 1986, a case concerning breaches of fiduciary duty by an LLP member, and a shareholder dispute.

Employment

Michael has acted in a wide variety of complex, high value Employment Tribunal cases, both as sole and junior counsel. His work in this field covers a broad spectrum of employment law issues and has been recognised by the legal directories for several years. Chambers and Partners comments that he “has an impressive employment law practice”, is “noted for his work on injunctive relief and restraint of trade matters” and is “recognised for his strength in discrimination and whistleblowing matters”. As Chambers and Partners recognises, Michael acts for a diverse range of clients, and has particular experience in the financial services, sports and education sectors.

Michael’s recent work covers the full spectrum of work in the employment law field. He was instructed (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) by Chelsea FC and José Mourinho to defend high profile claims brought against them by a former-doctor (settled on day 2 of a 2 week hearing). Michael was also instructed (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) by an investment bank in a whistleblowing claim, which involved an urgent appeal to the EAT (UKEAT/0058/16/DM) before it settled on day 4 of a 3 week hearing.  Michael’s recent work as sole counsel includes a 6 day hearing in which he acted for a Claimant in the financial services industry (Ozkaptan v Citibank N.A), a case in which he represented a technology company which settled prior to a 6 day hearing after the Claimant’s whistleblowing claim was struck out at a hearing at which Michael appeared, and a 6 day claim involving multiple allegations of discrimination and whistleblowing in the IT sector.  Michael also recently appeared in the EAT in an appeal concerning employment status in the context of whistleblowing claims (Keppel Seghers v Hinds [2014] ICR 1105).

Michael also undertakes a broad range of work in the High Court in this field.  This includes acting in cases involving injunctive relief and restraint of trade issues, both as sole and junior counsel, for which his work is noted in Chambers and Partners 2018. He is regularly instructed in conspiracy and economic tort claims, as well as cases involving breaches of directors’ duties, fiduciary duties and duties of confidence.

Michael (led by Richard Leiper QC) recently acted for the Defendant in a restraint of trade matter that settled the day before a speedy trial was due to commence and (again led by Richard Leiper QC) is representing an alleged party to a team move conspiracy in a case listed for a 14 day trial in 2019. He is also (led by Sean Jones QC) currently acting for the Claimants in a case involving the enforceability of contractual terms requiring the repayment of training fees by departing employees. As sole counsel Michael recently advised the Claimants in a Commercial Court dispute involving contractual claims against Defendants in multiple jurisdictions. He has appeared in a three week trial concerning team moves, fiduciary duties, and conspiracy (Lonmar Global Risks Ltd v West & Ors [2011] IRLR 138, led by Richard Leiper) and acted as sole counsel in a 4 day High Court trial concerning breach of confidence and springboard relief (Personal Management Solutions Ltd v Brakes Bros Ltd [2014] EWHC 3495 (QB)).

Public

Michael undertakes a range of public law and regulatory work.  Michael’s public law practice has a particular focus on cases involving the Asserts of Community Value regime in the Localism Act 2011. He has extensive expertise in this field, having acted in a large number of appeals, such as Patel v Hackney CR/2013/0005 (the first appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal under ACV regime), Kicking Horse Ltd v Camden CR/2015/0012 (an appeal considering the extent to which individuals parts of a building should be given separate consideration under the ACV regime), and Mendoza Ltd v Camden CR/2015/0015) (an appeal considering the requirements that an organisation must meet to make a valid ACV nomination).  In 2017 examples of his work include acting in Worthmore v South Oxfordshire CR/2017/0005 and representing a local authority (led by Jonathan Moffett QC) in First-Tier Tribunal proceedings involving a claim for several million pounds in compensation which did not ultimately proceed to a hearing. Michael also acted (led by Clive Lewis QC) in judicial review proceedings concerning a challenge to a European-wide prohibition on the sale of certain meat products (R (Newby) v Food Standards Agency [2013] EWHC 1966 (Admin)), including acting as sole counsel in defence of the Claimant’s application for an interim injunction to dis-apply the prohibition. Michael (now led by Jason Coppell QC) will represent the Defendant in those proceedings before the Supreme Court in 2019.  Michael, is currently acting (led by Jonathan Moffett QC) for a local authority in a budget challenge due to be heard in October 2018 and recently advised an office holder in judicial review proceedings.

Education

Michael regularly advises on employment disputes involving educational institutions. He has represented Claimants and Respondents in both the state and private sectors, and his experience covers all institutions from nurseries to universities. In the education field Michael has also recently advised a student on a county court claim against a university alleged to have acted in breach of contract and engaged in disability discrimination. Michael is currently acting, as junior counsel, in a long-running dispute in the High Court concerning interference in the running of a school.

Information

Michael undertakes a range of information law work. He regularly advises on data protection issues and appears in the First-tier Tribunal in cases concerning the Freedom of Information Act. He acted for the Information Commissioner in Sittampalam v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0127 (in which the CPS’ file in R v Chambers (well known as the “Twitter Joke Trial”) was requested under FOIA) and UK Anti-Doping Limited v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0177 (an appeal concerning a request for the outcomes of doping tests conducted by the UKAD). Michael also represented the Financial Reporting Council in proceedings concerning the extent to which it is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (Miller v FRC EA/2014/0113).

Local Government

Michael undertakes a range of work for local government. As well as advising local government on general public, commercial and employment law issues, Michael’s practice has a particular focus on cases involving the Asserts of Community Value regime in the Localism Act 2011. He has extensive expertise in this field, having acted in a large number of appeals, such as Patel v Hackney CR/2013/0005 (the first appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal under ACV regime), Kicking Horse Ltd v Camden CR/2015/0012 (an appeal considering the extent to which individuals parts of a building should be given separate consideration under the ACV regime), and Mendoza Ltd v Camden CR/2015/0015) (an appeal considering the requirements that an organisation must meet to make a valid ACV nomination).  In 2017 examples of his work in this field include acting in Worthmore v South Oxfordshire CR/2017/0005 and representing a local authority (led by Jonathan Moffett QC) in First-Tier Tribunal proceedings involving a claim for several million pounds in compensation which did not ultimately proceed to a hearing. Michael is also currently acting (led by Jonathan Moffett QC) for a local authority in a budget challenge due to be heard in October 2018.

Professional Disciplinary & Regulatory

Michael’s employment practice sees him advise on a range of regulatory matters. He has also recently advised on diverse regulatory issues including European regulations on flight times and the regulations governing the work of employment agencies. Michael has acted in judicial review proceedings concerning a challenge to a European-wide prohibition on the sale of certain meat products (R (Newby) v Food Standards Agency [2013] EWHC 1966 (Admin)), including acting as sole counsel in defence of the Claimant’s application for an interim injunction to dis-apply the prohibition.  Michael (now led by Jason Coppell QC) will represent the Defendant in those proceedings before the Supreme Court in 2019.  He has also represented the Financial Reporting Council in proceedings concerning the extent to which it is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (Miller v FRC EA/2014/0113).

Sport

Within his commercial and employment work, Michael has particular expertise in the sport sector. He was recently instructed (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) by Chelsea FC and José Mourinho to defend high profile claims brought against them by a former-doctor (settled on day 2 of a 2 week hearing). He has also advised high profile sporting organisations on contractual disputes and tortious claims such as unlawful means conspiracy and inducing breach of contract.

Recommendations

Legal 500

“He grasps complicated and complex matters easily.”

“He provides sound and practical advice, and is one to watch” 

Chambers and Partners

“Very commercial, very sensible and very user-friendly.”

“Personable and incredibly persuasive.”

“Responsive, bright and enjoyable to work with. He really gets engaged with the case and makes you feel supported throughout.”

“Good with clients, skilful, confident and persuasive. He is able to adapt his approach appropriately to the claimant, witness and case in hand.”

“extremely hard-working, diligent and is able to pick up the facts of a case very quickly”

“extremely thorough”

“very personable and good with the client”

“sources value his measured approach to sensitive matters”

“has an impressive employment law practice and is recognised for his strength in discrimination and whistleblowing claims”

Previous editions of Chambers and Partners have described Michael variously as “a shrewd and knowledgeable lawyer” who is “unflappable”, “down-to-earth” and “clearly very bright”.

Recent Cases

A v B
(March 2018)
Acted (led by Richard Leiper QC) for a company seeking to enforce restrictive covenants in the contract of its former-CEO, which settled the day before a speedy trial.

C v D
(2017)
Represented the Respondent in a whistleblowing and unfair dismissal claim which settled the day before a 6 day hearing, after the whistleblowing claim was struck out at preliminary hearing at which Michael also acted for the Respondent.

Ozkaptan v Citibank N.A
(2016 and 2017)
Represented the Claimant (an FX trader) in a 6 day Employment Tribunal hearing and subsequent remedy hearing.

E v F
(2017)
Represented the Respondent construction company in its defence of claim relating to tendering practices, heard over 4 days in October 2017.

Carneiro v Chelsea FC; José Mourinho ~
(2016)
Acted (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) for the Respondents in defence of claims brought in the Employment Tribunal by a former-doctor, which settled on day 2 of a 10 day hearing.

 Christie v Health Management Limited
(2016)
Represented the Respondent in a 7 day Employment Tribunal hearing involving allegations of pregnancy/maternity discrimination and associated disability discrimination.

G v H
(2016)
Acted (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) for the Respondent investment bank in a whistleblowing claim which settled on day 3 of a 3 week hearing.

Keppel Seghers v Hinds
[2014] ICR 1105
Acted for the Claimant (the Respondent in the EAT) in an appeal concerning the extended definition of “worker” for the purpose of whistleblowing claims.

Personal Management Solutions Ltd v Brakes Bros Ltd
[2014] EWHC 3495
Acted as sole counsel in a High Court trial concerning breach of confidence.

Lonmar Global Risks Ltd v West & Ors
[2011] IRLR 138
Represented the Claimant in a 3 week trial concerning team moves, employees’ fiduciary duties, and conspiracy (led by Richard Leiper).

Worthmore v South Oxfordshire
CR/2017/0005
Acted for the Respondent in an appeal considering concerning the propriety and extent of a listing under the Assets of Community Value regime in the Localism Act 2011.

Mendoza Ltd v Camden
CR/2015/0015
Acted for the Respondent in an appeal considering the requirements that an organisation must meet to make a valid nomination under the Assets of Community Value regime in the Localism Act 2011.

Patel v London Borough of Hackney & Ors
CR/2013/0005
Instructed by Hackney in the first appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal under the Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012.

R (Newby Foods Limited) v Food Standards Agency
[2013] EWHC 1966 (Admin) [2013] EWHC 2132 (Admin)
Represented the Defendant in relation to the Claimant’s challenge to a European prohibition of certain meat products (led by Clive Lewis QC) and acted for the Defendant in relation to the Claimant’s application for interim relief.

Education

Michael graduated with a first class degree in Law from St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University.

Other

Michael is a member of the Commercial Bar Association, the Employment Lawyers Association, the Employment Law Bar Association and the Constitutional and the Administrative Law Bar Association.

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Regulatory Information

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): Michael Lee

VAT Number: GB 108141451

Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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