Michael White

Michael specialises in employment and sports, commercial, information and public law. He has appeared in the Court of Appeal and various divisions of the High Court, as well as the County Court, specialist tribunals including the Employment Tribunal and the Information Tribunal, and arbitral proceedings.

Michael is ranked in Chambers and Partners for employment law, with clients commenting: “He is very bright, he is very personable, he is commercial, he is practical and he is a safe pair of hands in tribunal” and “He has an agile brain and he will definitely go far”.

Michael acts in, and advises on, the following matters in particular:

  • High Court commercial and business protection proceedings, including those concerning team moves, breach of confidence, restrictive covenants, shareholder disputes and agency disputes.
  • Statutory employment law claims, including complex claims of discrimination, whistleblowing, unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and equal pay.
  • Information law matters, including proceedings under the GDPR / DPA 2018, advisory work on data protection obligations, and First-Tier Tribunal proceedings involving the ICO and public authorities.
  • Public-law challenges, including high-profile judicial review challenges against central government, government agencies and local authorities (acting for both claimants and defendants).

More information about Michael’s experience in each of these areas can be found below. Michael also accepts instructions across the full range of Chambers’ other practice areas, including in procurement, education and environmental law.

Before coming to the Bar, Michael was a stagiaire for six months in Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s international arbitration team in Paris, assisting on English-law commercial arbitrations and investor-state disputes. He also worked on death-penalty appeals in New Orleans, and was employed as a consultant in the Legal Office of the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome.

Specialisms

Commercial and Business Protection

Michael has substantial experience in commercial law, particularly, but not exclusively, in the context of employment and business protection. Michael also acts on commercial disputes in other contexts, and has previously worked on commercial litigation matters at Freshfields and at the United Nations.

Examples of Michael’s recent work in the commercial and business-protection arena include:

  • Advising a foreign company on a high-value, multi-jurisdictional dispute around an IPO (advising both as sole counsel and led by Julian Wilson).
  • Acting for Alexander Zverev, one of the world’s highest-ranked professional tennis players, in a dispute with his former manager. Mr Zverev alleged that his representation agreement with his manager was an unenforceable restraint of trade, and sought declaratory relief to that effect (led by Anya Proops QC).
  • Acting for the defendant, a global financial institution, in High Court team move proceedings brought by a competitor involving the alleged poaching of a specialist team (led first by Chris Jeans QC and latterly by Richard Leiper QC).
  • Assisting in high-profile litigation between major financial institutions alleging the misappropriation of a confidential trading algorithm (assisting Amy Rogers).
  • Acting for the defendant, the Director of an SME, in High Court proceedings alleging unlawful competition and client poaching in breach of restrictive covenants (at preliminary stages, unled).
  • Acting for the claimant, the former owner of a law firm, in High Court proceedings alleging that the firm was driven into insolvency by breaches of restrictive covenants by an ex-Director and ex-employees (led by Richard Leiper QC).
  • Advising an international technology company on a contractual dispute, worth several hundred thousand pounds, in respect of a software licence agreement (unled).

Employment and Sports Law

Michael has extensive experience in acting for both claimants and defendants in statutory employment-law proceedings before the Employment Tribunal. These range from simple claims of unfair dismissal to complex, multi-day trials involving allegations of whistleblowing, discrimination and harassment. Michael also has experience in sports law, which invokes many employment-law concepts.

Much of Michael’s work in the employment-law arena is unled, but he also has experience acting with various QCs and leading juniors in the field. Examples of recent work include:

  • Acting for the Claimant in a multi-million-pound claim against an international law firm for harassment, victimisation, sex discrimination, whistleblowing and unfair dismissal (initially, unled; led latterly by Diya Sen Gupta QC). The case (listed for a twelve-day final hearing) settled shortly before trial.
  • Acting for numerous companies in applications for strike-out / deposit orders, and preliminary hearings to address case-management (unled).
  • Defending, on behalf of a former employee and director, a costs application brought by the respondent company upon withdrawal of a claim (unled).
  • Acting for a claimant in a sexual harassment claim against a large company, alleging repeated unwanted romantic advances by her manager (unled; led by James Laddie QC in ongoing EAT appeal in respect of anonymity order).
  • Acting for the Defendant local authority in a high-value employment (TUPE) challenge related to the reorganisation of its public health functions (led by Simon Forshaw).
  • Drafting written submissions for a respondent company in respect of specific matters of agency law arising out of a complex whistleblowing claim brought against more than ten respondents (unled).
  • Representing both respondents and claimants at various multi-day trials in the Employment Tribunal, involving allegations from across the spectrum of statutory employment law (unled).
  • Advising on liability, quantum and strategic / reputational risks in numerous actual and threatened employment-law claims (unled).
  • Advising a law firm on the appropriate management of a potential redundancy situation, in the context of changing business needs in the Covid-19 pandemic (unled).
  • Representing an Olympic athlete, who had been bumped from Team GB’s lineup for Tokyo 2021 after a selection appeal by a teammate, in a successful challenge to that decision before a sports Tribunal (led by Daniel Stilitz QC) (pro bono).

Michael’s employment law clients range from individuals to public authorities to multi-national technology and financial-services companies. Michael also acts in High Court commercial employment proceedings – as to which, see ‘Commercial and Business Protection’, above.

Information Law

Michael has particular experience in acting for defendants to data-breach and related claims, and is able to advise on appropriate strategic measures for tackling both vexatious, low-value claims (which can nonetheless put a significant drain on a defendant’s resources) and high-value, higher risk claims. Michael also has claimant-side information-law experience.

Most of Michael’s work the information-law arena is unled. Examples of recent work includes:

  • Advising the Labour Party on the management of litigation alleging breaches of data protection legislation, arising from the leak of a report on alleged antisemitism in the Party (led by Anya Proops QC).
  • Advising a government ministry on the management of a vexatious claimant bringing and threatening numerous overlapping proceedings under the GDPR and DPA 2018 (led by Robin Hopkins).
  • Advising an international company in the luxury industry on the management of a vexatious claimant making repeated subject-access requests in the context of parallel employment-law proceedings.
  • Advising numerous defendants including charities, multi-nationals and SMEs on the defence of low-value nuisance data-breach claims where a claimant is threatening to issue in the High Court for costs reasons.
  • Acting for both claimants and defendants in court proceedings alleging data breaches and various other contraventions of the GDPR / DPA and PECR.
  • Acting for the ICO and for public authorities in the First-Tier Tribunal in appeals against decisions by public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • Advising on and drafting in aid of GDPR / DPA compliance, e.g. in respect of privacy policies and obligations in respect of the appointment of a Data Protection Officer.
  • Advising individuals who are alleged, in the context of actual or threatened disciplinary or employment-law proceedings, to have breached data protection or confidentiality obligations.

Michael recently co-authored the ‘Information Law’ chapter of a forthcoming book on education law.

Public Law

Michael has acted for individuals, local government, government ministries and government agencies in a number of actual or threatened judicial reviews. Michael’s work in this field has included:

  • Advising a local authority on its response to a threatened judicial review of its policies in respect of the DFE’s new Relationships Education guidance, on grounds of discrimination and a failure to consult (unled).
  • Advising a local authority on a judicial review claim by a parent in respect of a decision not to offer a child a place at the parent’s chosen school (unled).
  • Advising a local authority on its response to the Local Government Ombudsman in respect of repetitive complaints arising out of a special-educational-needs plan (unled).
  • Acting for the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, before both the High Court and the Court of Appeal, in a challenge to its decision on how to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of an orphan drug (led by Daniel Stilitz QC).
  • Acting for the Claimants in a challenge to the Government’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic in respect of care homes (led by Jason Coppel QC).
  • Acting for the Secretary of State in defence of a challenge to provisions of Universal Credit in respect of pensioners (led by Julian Milford QC).
  • Acting for the Secretary of State in defence of a challenge in connection with the much-publicised death of a benefit recipient in Nottingham in 2018 (led by Clive Sheldon QC).
  • Acting for the claimants in the ‘Pestfix’ case, alleging that Government decisions to procure hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of PPE at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic were unlawful (led by Jason Coppel QC).

Education

2018: Bar Professional Training Course, BPP University (Outstanding)

2015: BA Jurisprudence, Oxford University (First Class)

Awards

Lord Justice Holker Scholarship (Gray’s Inn)         

Sally Ball European Law Prize (Trinity College, Oxford)

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Professional title: Barrister

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

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Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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