Mon - Fri 09:00 - 18.00
Central Court 25 Southampton Buildings London WC2A 1AL
Tel: +44 020 7936 3637
DX 458 London Chancery Lane
Chambers provides an out of hours service. If you call Chambers main number you will be diverted to the clerk on call who will be able to deal with your enquiry.
Year of Call - 2012
Michael Polak is a very popular choice for high profile cases involving international law, serious crime, human rights, and strategic litigation.
Michael is currently acting in some of the most newsworthy cases including the Cyprus Rape trial and appeal, a challenge to the Government’s Huawei 5G plans, the defence of an artist’s freedom of expression, and a number of large scale private prosecutions in areas such as fraud and torture. Alongside this cutting edge work, Michael is also instructed to defend in a number of lengthy complex fraud and drug conspiracies.
In regards to strategic litigation, Michael’s strong understanding of the full range of legal options in both the domestic and international legal spheres means that he is able to advise on the best way to solve a client’s particular legal problems, whether they are individuals or an organisation, and whether that solutions lies in the civil, public law, private prosecution, or international law arenas.
Internationally, Michael has experience managing client’s cases in places as diverse as Belarus, Myanmar, Cyprus, Australia, Spain, Mexico, the USA, China, Greece, the Middle East, and India. Michael’s international work has included:
• Co-ordinating the defence of the British teenager who has been put on trial in Cyprus after reporting a gang rape;
• Submitting communications to the United Nations’ Special Procedures, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and appearing before these groups on behalf of clients in China and Bangladesh;
• Assisting the Uyghur community with a number of different legal areas and speaking at the World Uyghur Congress’ Conference in Washington in 2019;
• Drafting successful representations to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files to remove Red Notices. Michael is also the author of leading legal publisher Westlaw’s Insight article on INTERPOL Notices explaining the notices and the possibilities as to how they can be removed;
• Assisting clients as a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Pro Bono Panel set up to promote and protect the human rights of British nationals detained overseas;
• Assisting on research for an appeal at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia;
• Working on the Mau Mau litigation in regards to the situation in Colonial Kenya;
• On secondments with the Public Defender in Jamaica, the Black Sash in South Africa, and at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia; and
• Working on a Hague Convention case involving the alleged abduction of a child from Italy to the United Kingdom.
Michael is regularly instructed to defend in serious criminal matters. He applies a forensic approach but is able to relate well to juries as well. Michael’s secondment at the Financial Conduct Authority where he worked on a matter concerning alleged breaches of the listing rules by a major financial institution expanded his fraud knowledge and experience.
Michael has acted in trials involving the full range of criminal offences including:
8 Handed 75 Tonne Tobacco Fraud
Michael represented the first defendant of eight, alleged to be the mastermind of a conspiracy to evade excise duty payable on the manufacture of hand rolling tobacco from raw tobacco in regards to consignments imported by air with a gross weight of 75 tonnes.
It is alleged that the defendants created an “immensely complex” set of records and numerous shell companies to hide their real purpose – to import raw tobacco and then treat it so it could be sold for use by smoking. All other defendants were found guilty and a retrial for Michael’s client will being in January 2021.
Lengthy Courier Fraud Trial
Michael Polak successfully represented a Defendant in a lengthy trial St Albans Crown Court who was alleged to be involved in a 8 handed courier fraud conspiracy involving the defrauding of a number of individuals of over £350 000 by the participants.
The trial included a large amount of telephone cell-site evidence and the cross-examination of an expert in this area. The defendant Michael Polak was representing was one of only two Defendants out of eight who were found not guilty after trial.
Leading in Multi-Handed Lengthy Robbery Trial
Michael acted as leading Counsel representing a defendant in this 9 handed lengthy youth robbery at St Albans Crown Court. The case involved three knife point robberies committed by a gang of 9 young men against other youths in the local area. This case involved a large volume of telephone and CCTV evidence and careful management of young a vulnerable defendants and witnesses.
Michael led a junior barrister in this trial and held his own amongst significantly more senior barristers.
Michael Polak successfully defended a client alleged to have been involved in the assault and the kidnapping of a youth. After a 5-day trial at Northampton Crown Court the jury returned unanimous not guilty verdicts.
Michael has conducted two successful private prosecutions from inception for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and unlawful eviction.
He is also currently advising on three high profile private prosecutions concerning allegations of torture, coercive and controlling behaviour, and fraud.
Michael is regularly instructed to advise on appeals of both convictions and sentences to the Court of Appeal and is currently instructed to pursue an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Michael has the experience needed to advise on international criminal cases given his Master’s Degree in Public International Law which included international criminal law, his research for an appeal before the Mechanism UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal, his attendance at a training course at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and his work as an intern with the Defence Support Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.
Michael can advise individuals who may find themselves subject to the jurisdiction of an international court or tribunal as well as organisations who may be considering submitting a communication to the Prosecutor of the ICC for her to consider prosecution in regards to certain situations.
Current Domestic Criminal Instructions
Michael is currently instructed in a large scale drug importation case, an armed robbery, and a s18 Assault Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm trial.
As well as the international matters listed above which involve human rights arguments Michael is often instructed in domestic human rights public law and civil cases. This has included judicial reviews involving the provision of Kosher food to Jewish Prisoners, actions for assault on prisoners by prison guards or other inmates, and public law challenges to unfair prison adjudications.
Another human rights area in which Michael practices is extradition law and cross-border criminal investigations. In extradition, Michael has appeared in multiple applications for the Respondent raising arguments based on the Human Rights Act, procedural bars, and conviction in absence grounds. Michael has also successfully acted for a Pakistani national who was apprehended in Eastern Europe on a Red Notice issued on the request of a Middle-Eastern state to have it removed. Further to this Michael is also the author of leading legal publisher Westlaw’s Insight article on INTERPOL Notices explaining the notices and the possibilities as to how they can be removed.
Michael also has experience of inquiries have worked as a paralegal for the Secretariat to the Alexander Litvinenko Inquest before commencing pupillage and having also spent time on the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry (Tivoli Enquiry) in Jamaica which examined the circumstances surrounding an incursion by the Jamaican security forces into an inner city community which resulted in the death of over 70 people.
Michael is the elected President of Middle Temple Young Barrister’s Association, is on the Executive Committee of the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) where he was previously the Chair of the HRLA’s Young Lawyers Committee and where he started the annual judicial review competition and journal, the Young Human Rights Lawyer.
Michael is also an elected member of the South-Eastern Circuit and the Bar Council.
Michael has been a visiting Lecturer at Birmingham University Medical School where he taught subjects such as the law of abortion, patient choice, and euthanasia. Michael has also provided a guest lecture on criminal law at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Michael has been awarded the following awards and scholarships:
• Middle Temple Harmsworth Scholar (Major Scholarship);
• Middle Temple International Internship Award;
• South Eastern Circuit scholarship to attend the Gerald T. Bennett Prosecutor and Public Defender Trial Training Program at the University of Florida College of Law;
• London School of Economics and Political Science Anniversary Scholarship
Michael also voluntarily work for youth charity the Renaissance Foundation as the Skills for Life Programme Director. This involves putting together and running a practical skills programme with expert speakers and practical exercises for underprivileged young people.
During the Coronavirus crisis Michael set up and ran Fuel Our Frontline which delivered over 14 tonnes of groceries to frontline NHS staff members at over 30 British hospitals.
Polak, M.J. The Jadhav case and the right to consular assistance: ‘confessions’, spies, and remedies in international law. Indian Journal of International Law 57, 385–409 (2017).
Interpretation of Legislation under the Human Rights Act, November 2016
Westlaw Insight article on INTERPOL Notices, November 2015
Domestic Workers’ Rights Booklet, You and Your Rights, the Black Sash, South Africa, 2010
Constitutional Rights of Children Booklet, You and Your Rights, the Black Sash, South Africa, 2010
Sierra Leone: Blanket Ban on Political Rallies and Public Meetings Illegal, Article 19, 2010
Net Neutrality: Stronger Rules Needed in US and EU, Article 19, 2011
The Exclusion of Evidence in Criminal Law, Brunel University, January 2017
Visiting Lecturer at Birmingham University Medical School teaching subjects such as the law of abortion, patient choice, and euthanasia, 2015-current
Member, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Pro Bono Panel
Executive Committee, Human Rights Lawyers Association
Executive Committee South-Eastern Circuit
Honourable Society of the Middle Temple
Criminal Bar Association
Young Fraud Lawyers Association
Panel Member, Bar Pro Bono Unit
Member, Law Society International Action Team
European Criminal Bar Association
Extradition Lawyers Association
Anglo-Australasian Lawyers Society
President of Middle Temple Young Barristers’ Association
2015-2017 Master of Law (LLM)(Public International Law) London School of Economics and Political Science Merit (Distinction in Law of War, UK Human Rights, and Dissertation published by Indian Journal of International Law https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40901-018-0077-8 )
2014-2015 Peacekeeping & International Conflict Resolution, Peace Operations Training Institute.
2011-2012 Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), Kaplan College, London. Very Competent.
2007-2010 Bachelor of Law, City University London, Upper 2nd Class Honours, 66.7%, Ranked 5/120 (top 4%) 1st Class in International Human Rights Law, European Law, and Public International Law
Michael secured a unanimous s18 GBH, Wounding, and Assault Trial acquittal after a 4 days trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Michael successfully represented the defendant who was found not guilty in a case of Sexual Touching of Someone under the Age of 13. This case involved pre-recorded evidence and the cross-examination of the 10 y.o complainant.
Michael represented an Italian national who was facing 5 counts of sexual assault. Michael obtained the taped interview of the defendant which showed that the transcript was incorrect in that the defendant had not be properly cautioned before the interview commenced despite the transcript stating that he had. Michael successfully argued that the interview could not be relied upon ending the prosecution’s case against the defendant.
Michael made successful submissions to the Court of Appeal in regards to the length of the sentence and application of an extended sentence for the appellant who had been convicted of a serious armed robbery and burglary. After hearing Michael’s submission the Court shortened the length of sentence.
Michael appeared in a multi-handed 2 day sentencing hearing in regards to ‘sham’ marriages which were conducted in two locations on the same day. His defendant was one of a very small number of defendants not to receive an immediate custodial sentence.
Michael is currently instructed to privately prosecute an ABH matter which occurred when a taxi driver struck another taxi driver in a dispute over a carparking space causing permanent damage to his vision. Michael undertook all work on this case from its inception including the drafting of the information that was laid before the court, written submissions to the court as to why a summons should be granted, a successful application for a witness summons requiring the Detective Constable to produce all documents that the police have in regards to this incident, and appearing at all hearings in this matter. Michael is particularly keen on using the Public Prosecution procedure to prosecute Police misconduct and other cases where the authorities fail to live up to their duties.
Michael represented an Islamic Community Centre for failure to comply with an enforcement notice restricting the hours of operation of the centre. After lengthy mitigation submissions the defendant was fined only £100 per offence, an unusually low fine.
Michael drafted a number of written representation on behalf of a small business which had been investigated by the Fire Service for a number of breaches of fire safety laws. After Michael’s representation’s the Fire Service agreed to work with the company to remedy the breaches rather than to pursue enforcement actions and prosecute as they had said they would.
Michael successfully represented the mother of an Italian/Russian girl who was the respondent in a Hague Convention child abduction matter. The matter was concluded in the mother’s favour.
Michael was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department on large scale, ongoing litigation into the alleged abuses by the Colonial Government in Kenya against the Mau Mau as part of the BB scheme.
Treasury Solicitor’s Department
Michael is currently instructed in a civil Human Rights Act claim against the Ministry of Justice in regards to a Jewish prisoner who alleges that the prison where he was detained failed to follow the policy correctly in not giving him two kosher meals daily.
Michael is currently instructed in a civil claim by a prisoner who contracted HIV after being bitten by a fellow prisoner who subsequently died from AIDS.