Michael’s diverse practice covers public law (including community care), competition law (EU and UK), public procurement, freedom of information, sports law and general commercial litigation. He has appeared in over 30 reported cases at all levels up to the Supreme Court. He has substantial experience as sole counsel, but is equally happy working as part of a counsel team.
Michael acts for both claimants and defendants, with clients ranging from major international businesses and central government departments to charities and individuals in receipt of legal aid. He is Standing Counsel to the Competition and Markets Authority, and a member of both the Attorney-General’s “B-Panel” and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s panel of approved counsel. He is direct access qualified and accepts pro bono instructions in suitable cases.
Before qualifying as a barrister, Michael read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he received the top mark in the University in Philosophy finals, and the 4th highest overall mark in the University. He then worked as a parliamentary researcher and caseworker in the House of Commons before completing his GDL (with Distinction) and BPTC (Outstanding, ranked 5th in year) at City, University of London.
Public law and judicial review
Michael undertakes a broad range of public law work ranging from major human rights and discrimination cases to challenges to regulatory decisions in the commercial sphere. He also a specialist community care practice, and often acts for vulnerable, legally-aided claimants in extremely urgent applications.
He regularly appears unled, for both claimants and defendants, in the Administrative Court and in a range of specialist tribunals. He also frequently acts as junior counsel in claims raising major points of principle, both at first instance and on appeal. He regularly takes on legal aid work, and acts on urgent cases at short notice.
The following is an illustrative list of Michael’s public law cases:
- R (Richards) v Environment Agency  EWHC 2501: acting (led by Ian Wise QC) for the successful claimant in a landmark human rights case before Fordham J concerning the Article 2 right to life in the context of harmful emissions from a quarry.
- R (AK) v LB Islington & another  EWHC 301: acting (unled, leading Ciar McAndrew) for the successful claimant in a novel judicial review claim concerning the provision of “after-care” services under s. 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to a child following her discharge from a psychiatric unit.
- R (JP (a child)) v NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning  EWHC 1470 (Admin): acting (unled; leading Ciar McAndrew) for the successful claimant in a rationality challenging to a decision to reduce a care package for a young child suffering from a life-limiting brain tumour.
- R (VIP Communications) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 1564. Acting (as junior counsel to Daniel Beard QC) for the Home Secretary in a challenge to its decision to limit the use of a particular type of telecommunications equipment on national security grounds (awaiting decision on permission to appeal from the Supreme Court).
- R (Miller) v College of Policing  EWHC 225 (Admin). Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) in a claim concerning the parameters of the Article 10 right to freedom of expression in the online context (Court of Appeal judgment pending).
- R (Z) v Agudas Israel Housing Association Limited & LB Hackney  UKSC 40. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) for the Claimants, from first instance up to the Supreme Court, in a religious discrimination claim in respect of a housing association’s practice of letting properties only to members of the Orthodox Jewish community.
- R (Liberty) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. Acting (as junior counsel to James Eadie QC, and Gerry Facenna QC and Julian Milford QC) for the Home Office in successfully resisting Liberty’s human rights challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016: see  EWHC 2057;  1 WLR 243.
- R (Cotter) v NICE. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) in a judicial review of a decision by NICE relating to the approval for NHS use of a drug for the treatment of a rare and debilitating condition (PKU). See Court of Appeal judgment at  EWCA Civ 1037
- R (RD & others) v Worcestershire CC  EWHC 449 (Admin). Acting (led by Jenni Richards QC) for the successful claimants in a legitimate expectations challenge to a local authority’s decision to terminate the provision of ‘portage’ services for disabled children.
- R (DA and Others) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC) for the Claimants in a high-profile Article 14 challenge to the government’s “benefit cap” legislation – see Supreme Court judgment reported at  1 WLR 3289.
- R (T and Others) v Secretary of State for Education. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) for the Claimants in an Article 14 challenge to the Secretary of State for Education’s flagship policy which provides 30 hours’ free childcare to the children of working parents only: see  EWHC 2582 (Admin).
- R (AA) v Secretary of State for the Home Department. Acting for the Claimant in a landmark unlawful detention claim raising novel issues concerning the Secretary of State’s powers to detain children under the Immigration Act 1971. Michael won the substantive hearing on liability (appearing unled and against a silk): see  EWHC 1453 (Admin). Michael was subsequently led by Ian Wise QC in the Court of Appeal, again successfully: see  EWCA Civ 138.
- E v London Borough of Islington. Acting (as junior to Ian Wise QC) for the Claimant in the first ever successful damages claim based on a contravention of the right to education under Article 2 Protocol 1 of the ECHR: see  EWHC 1440 (Admin).
- easyBus v Stansted Airport Limited. Acting (as junior to Paul Harris QC) in successfully defending commercial judicial review proceedings brought by a bus company in respect of an airport operator’s use of bye-laws to control access to airport premises).
- 16 Sep 2021Ian Wise QC, Michael Armitage and Will Perry secure victory for five-year-old boy against the Environment Agency in Walleys Quarry Landfill Right to Life case
- 21 Apr 2021Judicial Review: Imogen Proud and Michael Armitage succeed in the Administrative Court
- 16 Feb 2021Michael Armitage successful for Claimant in novel judicial review claim concerning mental health after-care services
- 10 Jul 2020Michael Armitage and Ciar McAndrew act for Claimant in successful irrationality challenge to NHS continuing care decision
- 14 Feb 2020Ian Wise QC acts for Harry Miller, as judge rules police’s “Orwellian” action disproportionately interfered with Miller’s right of freedom of expression
- 16 May 2019Majority of Supreme Court holds that benefit cap does not contravene Article 14 ECHR
Michael’s competition law practice covers litigation and advisory work across the full spectrum of EU and UK competition law.
Michael is ranked as a Leading Junior in both Chambers & Partners (UK and Global) and Legal 500 for competition law, and is instructed on many of the most of high-profile competition claims in this jurisdiction. In 2021, he was appointed Standing Counsel to the Competition and Markets Authority.
Michael is the co-author (with Jon Turner QC and Anneli Howard QC) of the chapter on ‘Litigating Infringements in the National Courts’ in the most recent edition of Bellamy & Child, European Union Law of Competition, and has published a number of articles on competition law in academic journals.
Michael is one of the most experienced junior counsel at the English Bar in collective proceedings. He was instructed for the respondent in its successful resistance of the first ever application for a collective proceedings order in this jurisdiction: Gibson v Pride Mobility Scooters  CAT 9. Since then he has been instructed (for both applicants and respondents) in a large proportion of the collective proceedings cases that are currently pending before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, including: Trucks (acting for Daimler AG), Gutmann (acting for LSER), Qualcomm (acting for the proposed class representative, Which?), Google Play Store (acting for the proposed class representative, Elizabeth Coll), McLaren (acting for WWL).
Private competition law claims
Michael also has a busy private competition law practice, covering both follow-on and stand-alone claims. Notable instructions include:
- Churchill Gowns v Ede & Ravenscroft. Junior counsel for the Defendants (led by Conall Patton QC) in stand-alone proceedings under Chapter I / Chapter II concerning the supply of student gowns. Listed for trial in January 2022.
- Trucks. Acting as junior counsel for Daimler AG in relation to myriad damages claims before the English Courts (led by Paul Harris QC).
- Power cables. Acting (as junior counsel to Marie Demetriou QC) for the “NKT” defendants in relation to damages claims brought by various parties following the European Commission’s Power Cables cartel decision.
- Air cargo. Acting (as junior counsel to Jon Turner QC) for British Airways in relation to the “air cargo” damages claims in the Chancery Division.
- Acting for the successful claimant in a private abuse of dominance claim, culminating in a three-week trial in the Chancery Division: Arriva The Shires Ltd -v- London Luton Airport Operations Limited  EWHC 64 (Ch).
In his role as Standing Counsel to the Competition and Markets Authority, Michael is instructed in a number of major regulatory appeals, including BGL v CMA (price comparison websites), listed for hearing on 1 – 21 November 2021 (led by Marie Demetriou QC).
- 29 Jul 2021Ronit Kreisberger QC and Michael Armitage act for class representative as Google sued for excessive and unlawful charges on its Google Play Store
- 25 Feb 2021Which? represented by all-Monckton team in opt-out collective proceedings worth over £480m
- 11 Dec 2020Paul Harris QC leads for claimants as £14bn Mastercard consumer claim to proceed after historic Supreme Court ruling
- 11 Nov 2020Court of Appeal rules on abuse of process in competition damages claim
- 09 Oct 2020Court of Appeal Rules on Abuse of Process in Competition Damages Claim
- 26 Sep 2019Boundary Fares CPO stayed pending Mastercard in Supreme Court
Michael regularly provides advice, drafting and representation in the field of public procurement, in which context he brings to bear substantial experience of conducting urgent judicial review proceedings, as well as a detailed understanding of EU law.
Notable instructions include:
- Acting for the Ministry of Defence in a challenge to the procurement process for a major global logistics contract: see MLS (Overseas) Ltd v MoD  EWHC 3389 (TCC). Michael was junior counsel for the MoD in this High Court trial, and conducted the cross-examination of one of the claimant’s key witnesses.
- Appearing as sole counsel for a domestic abuse charity in a “suspension” hearing in the Mercantile Court.
- Acting for two central government departments in connection with a long-running damages claim arising from a terminated procurement for “search and rescue” helicopters.
Michael also has a busy specialist practice in the sphere of information law.
Significant instructions to date include:
- Acting for the University of Cambridge in successfully resisting disclosure of proprietary information relating to 11+ examination papers.
- Appearing as sole counsel for a local residents’ association in a two-day appeal before the First-Tier Tribunal: Royal Borough of Greenwich v ICO and Brownie. The case involved cross- examination of a number of witnesses as well as detailed legal submissions, and resulted in the Tribunal ordering full disclosure of all information requested by Michael’s client. In light of his success in the Greenwich case, Michael was instructed to act for another requester in an appeal involving disclosure of a viability assessment (Perry v ICO and Hackney), in which Michael successfully obtained full disclosure prior to the final hearing.
- Appearing (as sole counsel) for the Information Commissioner in Worcestershire City Council v ICO, a 3-day hearing involving cross- examination of multiple witnesses.
- Acting (as junior to Ian Wise QC) in Willow v ICO, in proceedings concerning the Ministry of Justice’s refusal to disclose a manual containing detail of the restraint techniques used on children in detention:  EWCA Civ 1876.
- Advising HMRC in connection with subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 in relation to high-profile case of “whistle-blowing”.
Michael has a niche sports law practice (both led and unled), covering arbitration, disciplinary and civil court proceedings. He is ranked as a leading practitioner for sports law by Who’s Who Legal 2021. Sports Law.
Notable sports instructions to date include:
- Acting (with Paul Harris QC) for nine “Barbarians” players in high-profile disciplinary proceedings concerning alleged contraventions of COVID-19 protocols.
- Acting as sole counsel for a former employee of a major football club in High Court proceedings raising issues of unlawful means conspiracy and fraud;
- Acting as sole counsel for the Italian rugby player Martin Castrogiovanni in disciplinary proceedings concerning alleged misconduct during a “6 Nations” match;
- Acting in Rule K arbitration proceedings in agency dispute involving a major Premier League footballer (as junior to Paul Harris QC);
- Acting in Rule K arbitration proceedings for a director of a major football club in a commercial/company law dispute (as junior to Paul Harris QC);
- Advising a leading European football club on the compatibility of UEFA’s “financial fair play” rules with EU free movement law;
- Advising a Premier League club on the possibility of challenging the fielding of an ineligible player by a rival club in the context of “Rule K” arbitration proceedings;
- Advising a football league club in relation to a contractual dispute with a rival club over a change of mangers;
- Advising a football club owner in connection with a high-value claim against a rival club for sums due under a settlement agreement;
- Advising and representing the coach of a leading European rugby team in disciplinary proceedings in relation to allegations of misconduct during a pitch-side brawl.
- Advising sports teams and companies in relation to potential competition law claims against sports governing bodies.
Michael also has a general commercial practice, covering both litigation and advisory work. Recent instructions include acting unled for a ‘start up’ technology company in a private arbitration concerning the distribution of the proceeds of sale of a major asset.
What the directories say
Competition Law: “Great to work with, user friendly and a master of the detail.” – Legal 500, 2022
Competition Law: “A very bright barrister, who cuts through to the key issues. He’s been involved in quite a few big cases so his ability to call on that experience is invaluable.” “He was very knowledgeable on the issues, very calm and great with the clients.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2021
Competition Law: “A strong drafter who is highly regarded by senior QCs.” – Legal 500, 2021
Competition Law: “His attention to detail is good and his drafting is excellent.” “He is practical and willing to work hard, and is someone who gets on very well with clients.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2020
- Administrative Law Bar Association
- Bar European Group
- British Association for Sport and Law
- Competition Law Association
- Human Rights Lawyers Association
- BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Balliol College, Oxford, First Class Honours
- Ranked 4th in the University overall, and 1st in Philosophy
- Gibbs Prize for outstanding performance in Philosophy
- Fletcher Exhibitioner (Balliol College)
- Coolidge “Pathfinder” Scholarship (Balliol College) – for independent travel and research in the USA
- Diploma in Law from City University, London (2009-2010), Distinction
- Bar Professional Training Course, City Law School (2010 – 2011), Outstanding (5th in year), including marks of Outstanding in civil advocacy and cross-examination
- Prince of Wales Scholarship, Grays Inn
- Everard ver Heyden Foundation Prize for performance on the BPTC
- Phoenicia Scholarship, Bar European Group (for attendance at BEG conference in Athens)
BA (Hons), Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Oxford) (1st Class);
Graduate Diploma in Law, City University (Distinction)
Co-author (with Jon Turner QC and Anneli Howard) of the chapter on ‘Litigating Infringements in National Courts’ in Bellamy & Child (8th edition), European Union Law of Competition
Co-Author (with Jack Williams) of “Some things money cannot buy – lessons learned from the latest judgment under the UK’s new regime for collective competition law claims: Merricks v Mastercard Inc” (2018) 37(1) Civil Justice Quarterly 48-61
“The (Fast-Track) Trial of Socrates”, Competition Law Journal (2017, issue 3)
“Streetmap gets lost in Google abuse of dominance claim” (article for Lexis PSL, 25/2/16)
“Competition Law, land agreements and the decision in Martin Retail Group Ltd v Crawley Borough Council: an opportunity missed?” – article in the Competition Law Journal (2014, issue 3)