Michael’s diverse practice covers judicial review, 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 a member of both the Attorney-General’s “C-Panel” and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s panel of approved counsel. He is direct access qualified and is happy to consider 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 and judicial review work, including cases with a commercial/EU law focus. His cases in this area often raise human rights and discrimination issues.
He regularly appears unled in the Administrative Court and Upper Tribunal, with a particular focus on discrimination claims, Children Act cases, age assessments, community care, education and asylum/ immigration cases (including unlawful detention claims). He also often acts as junior counsel in major policy challenges to primary and secondary legislation, both at first instance and on appeal. He regularly takes on legal aid work, and acts on urgent cases at short notice.
Notable public law cases include:
- R (JP) 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. Acting (as junior counsel to Daniel Beard QC) for the defendant in a challenge to its decision to limit the use of a particular type of telecommunications equipment on national security grounds (Court of Appeal hearing in October 2020).
- R (Miller) v College of Policing. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) in a landmark claim concerning the parameters of the Article 10 right to freedom of expression in the online context (pending before the Court of Appeal).
- R (Z) v Agudas Israel Housing Association Limited & LB Hackney. Acting (as junior counsel to Ian Wise QC) for the Claimants in a discrimination challenge to a housing association’s practice of letting properties only to members of the Orthodox Jewish community. The case was heard (remotely) by the Supreme Court in June 2020, with judgment awaited.
- 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 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
- 28 Feb 2019Monckton members act in another successful challenge to local authority cuts
- 15 Mar 2018“Benefit cap” legislation survives the Court of Appeal – now for the Supreme Court
- Competition law
Michael’s competition law practice covers litigation and advisory work across the full spectrum of EU and UK competition law, with a particular emphasis on cartel damages claims, collective proceedings and private abuse of dominance claims.
Michael is ranked in both Chambers & Partners (UK and Global) and Legal 500 for competition law, and is instructed on a number of the most of high-profile competition claims in this jurisdiction.
Michael is the co-author 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.
His current and recent work includes:
- Trucks. Acting as junior counsel for a major European trucks OEM in relation to myriad claims before the English Courts, including claims before the CAT under the new collective proceedings regime in section 47B of the Competition Act 1998.
- 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.
- Gutmann. Acting (as junior counsel to Paul Harris QC) for the defendant to an application for a collective proceedings order in the ‘boundary fares’ dispute.
- Churchill v Ede & Ravenscroft. Acting (as junior counsel to Meredith Pickford QC) for the defendant in a standalone Competition Act claim before the CAT concerning arrangements for the supply of academic dress to University graduates.
- 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 defendant in Dorothy Gibson v Pride, the first claim brought in the Competition Appeal Tribunal under the new collective proceedings regime introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
- 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).
- 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
- 29 Jan 2019Court of Appeal rules on temporal scope of EU competition law
- Public procurement
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.
- Information law
Michael also has a busy practice in the sphere of information law, including cases under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and the Data Protection Act 1998.
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 in 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 thriving sports law practice (both in his own right and as a junior counsel), covering arbitration, disciplinary and civil court proceedings.
Notable instructions to date include:
- 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.
- Commercial law
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: “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
- Professional memberships
- Administrative Law Bar association
- Bar European Group
- British Association for Sport and Law
- Competition Law Association
- Human Rights Lawyers Association
- Additional information
- 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)
- Public law and judicial review