Michael Polak

Year of Call - 2012

Full Profile

Michael is a barrister specialising in criminal, public, and human rights law. Michael has particular skills in the international aspect of these areas having experience in:

  • Submitting communications to the United Nations’ Special Procedures and Human Rights Council in regards to a barrister who has been abducted by the Bangladeshi Government;
  • Drafting successful representations to the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files removing Red Notices;
  • As a member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Pro Bono Panel set up to promote and protect the human rights of British nationals detained overseas;
  • Conducting research to be used in 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 Defenders 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.

In criminal law, Michael accepts instructions for the Defence in sex, violence, and drugs matters. He also regularly appears before the Court of Appeal and can be instructed to pursue appeals against conviction and sentence. Michael also has experience in complex fraud matters and has spent time on secondment at the Financial Conduct Authority where he worked on a matter concerning possible breaches of the listing rules by a major financial institution. Michael also has experience in private prosecutions from their inception to conclusion including the drafting of the information and the summonsing of the Police to provide evidence.

Michael also accepts instructions in human rights and public law matters including in judicial review, where he has successfully reviewed the decision of a Prison Adjudicator who failed to provide a fair hearing and in civil claims such as a case that he is currently instructed in on behalf of a Claimant who contracted HIV after being bitten by fellow prisoner.

Michael has also developed experience in international human rights litigation and is instructed to act for a Bangladeshi barrister who has been forcibly abducted by the Government there. This has involved making submissions to United Nations bodies, liaising with the diplomatic community, and briefing the Press about the case. Michael is keen to use his international experience to assist in the fight for human rights internationally and has experience working within the legal systems of South Africa, Jamaica, and Australia as well in the UN system which means that Michael is well placed to conduct cases which involve international aspects.

Michael interest and experience extends into international criminal law as he has

has conducted research for the Radovan Karadzic appeal before the Mechanism UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal, attended a training course at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and worked as an intern with the Defence Support Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Michael is keen to apply the knowledge gained from these experience as well as on his Public International Law Master’s degree with the advocacy experience he has attained in the courts of England and Wales to defend those brought before the international courts and tribunals. Michael’s interest and experience in this area led to him being instructed to draft an advice on the situation in Syria and the possible international criminal and civil law ramifications in regards to the situation there.

A closely related area in which Michael also 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.

International Law

Michael has experience in international human rights having submitted communications to the UNHCHR Special Rapporteurs, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and the Human Rights Council. Michael can provide advice on the international human rights procedures and takes a holistic approach to determine whether there are any domestic civil or criminal proceedings, such as a private prosecutions, which can be brought against human rights abusers along with the international litigation and advocacy.

Michael is currently instructed by the family of Bangladeshi barrister Mr Ahmad Bin Quasem, who was defending his father before the International Crimes Tribunal in Dhaka when he was abducted by Government security forces. Further details of the case can be found hereand here. This work has included travelling to Bangladesh to make representations to the international diplomatic community, meeting with Ministers of the British and European Parliaments to discuss the case, submitting international legal communications to the UN bodies, and liaising with the press to ensure that this matter is publicised.

Michael also has expertise in challenging INTERPOL Red Notices having drafted the Westlaw Insight article on this area as well as successfully making representations on behalf of a Pakistani national to have the Red Notice requested by Qatar removed from INTERPOL’s files. Michael has also representended those wanted by Eastern European states in extradition proceedings.

has conducted preliminary research for the Radovan Karadzic appeal before the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, attended a training course at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and worked as an intern with the Defence Support Section of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Michael is keen to apply the knowledge gained from these experience as well as on his Public International Law Master’s degree with the advocacy experience he has attained in the courts of England and Wales to defend those brought before the international courts and tribunals. Michael’s interest and experience in this area led to him being instructed to draft an advice on the situation in Syria and the possible international criminal and civil law ramifications in regards to the situation there.

Michael’s international experience as set out above, as well as the fact that he has worked around the world in Australia, Cambodia, South Africa, and Jamaica, resulted in Michael being selected for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Pro Bono Panel set up to promote and protect the human rights of British nationals detained overseas.

Inquests and Inquiries

NH v The Independent Adjudicator, Secretary of State for Justice, and The Chief Magistrate- Michael successfully judicially reviewed the decision of Independent Adjudicator arguing that he had acted in breach of prison rules and that the was proceedings had been conducted was in breach of the applicant’s Article 6 Convention Right to a fair trial, his legitimate expectations, and was Wednesbury unreasonable. The result of this successful judicial review was that the extra time to serve ordered by the Adjudicator was removed and the applicant was awarded his legal costs.

Before commencing pupillage Michael worked as a paralegal for the Secretariat to the Alexander Litvinenko Inquest. He has become familiar with the law relating to inquests and inquiries through this experience.

He has 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.

Appointments and Scholarships

Michael is on the Executive Committee of the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) . For the previous three years Michael was the Chair of the HRLA’s Young Lawyers Committee 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 on the Committee of the Middle Temple Young Barristers Committee.

Michael is a visiting Lecturer at Birmingham University Medical School where he teaches subjects such as the law of abortion, patient choice, and euthanasia. Michael has also been invited to provide 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; and
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.

Publications and Seminars

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

Professional Memberships

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

Amnesty International

Extradition Lawyers Association

Anglo-Australasian Lawyers Society

Languages

English

Cases of note

  • criminal law
    R v DW

    Michael secured a unanimous s18 GBH, Wounding, and Assault Trial acquittal after a 4 days trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

    R v H

    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.

    R v AG

    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.

    R v BB

    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.

    R v M

    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.

    P v YA

    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.

  • regulatory and disciplinary law
    Borough of Redbridge v ATT

    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.

    FW v Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service

    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.

  • family law
    RF v MS

    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.

  • civil law

    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

    RB v Ministry of Justice

    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.

    EG v Ministry of Justice & NHS

    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.

News

  • Lewis Power QC and Michael Polak see Stunning Success in 4-Month Complex Fraud Matter
  • Michael Polak Presents at Washington Conference on Confronting Atrocities in China: The Global Response to the Uyghur Crisis
  • Michael Polak Represents Bar of England and Wales at European Young Bar Conference in Chisinau Moldova
  • Michael Polak on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head to Demand Release of Disappeared Barrister
  • Guy Williamson & Michael Polak share Great Success in Kidnapping Trial at Northampton Crown Court
  • Church Court and the Rule of Law.
  • Michael Polak Speaks on the Rule of Law at Voice for Bangladesh Meeting held at the House of Lords
  • Success for Michael Polak in Unlawful Eviction Private Prosecution
  • Michael Polak acts for top precious metal company and successfully resists application for forfeiture of €42,000
  • Statement on the 2nd anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Mr Ahmad Bin Quasem. Michael Polak
  • Not guilty verdict for Michael Polak’s client in £350,000 courier fraud conspiracy
  • 1st Cypriot Young Lawyer Awards (YLA) 2018 held at Nicosia Hilton on 27 April 2018 a Success
  • Michael Polak Represents British Businessman Incarcerated in Belarus
  • Against the Odds Not Guilty Verdict in Blackmail Trial for Michael Polak at Luton Crown Court
  • Michael Polak Speaks on Expert Panel about Bangladesh Human Rights hosted at the House of Lords
  • Michael Polak’s Article ‘The Jadhav Case & the Right to Consular Assistance: ‘Confessions’, Spies, and Remedies in International Law’ Published by the Indian Journal of International Law
  • Michael Polak Speaks on International Law in Parliamentary Launch of Myanmar Report
  • Church Court Trio Spearhead Efforts to Bring Accountability for Situation in Myanmar
  • Michael Polak Succeeds in Human Rights Case against Prison for Failure to Provide Kosher Meals
  • Channel 4 News Reports on Michael Polak’s Client: Disappeared Barrister Arman (Ahmad Bin Quasem)
  • Myanmar: Genocide? The law
  • The Criminal Bar Quarterly Reports on the Efforts to Free Michael Polak’s client, Abducted Barrister Mr Ahmad Bin Quasem
  • Michael Polak Succeeds in Private Prosecution
  • Michael Polak’s Letter about Bangladesh’s Disappeared Published by the Guardian
  • Michael Polak is Guest Speaker on Inspire FM on Missing Barrister Ahmad Bin Quasem
  • UN expert group urges Bangladesh to stop enforced disappearances and to reveal whereabouts of Michael Polak’s client Mr Ahmad Bin Quasem
  • Michael Polak Obtains Not Guilty Verdict in GBH Trial at Northampton Crown Court
  • Foreign Policy Reports on Problem of Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh Quoting Church Court’s Michael Polak
  • Michael Polak of Church Court Presents Guest Lecture at Brunel University
  • Michael Polak Secures Unanimous s18 GBH, Wounding, and Assault Trial Acquittal
  • Private Eye Reports on Michael Polak’s client Mr Ahmad Bin Quasem, Barrister Enforceable Disappeared in Bangladesh
  • Michael Polak attains not guilty verdict to 5 charges of sexual assault against Italian national in Newcastle Crown Court
  • Michael Polak Instructed to Represent Barrister Mr Ahmed Bin Quasem Abducted in Bangladesh
  • Michael Polak selected for Foreign & Commonwealth Office Pro Bono Lawyers Human Rights Panel
  • Colin Witcher and Michael Polak appointed to the Exec Committee of South Eastern Circuit
  • Michael Polak wins Human Rights Judicial Review of Prison Adjudication
  • Shortlist ( )

    Criminal Law

    Business Crime

    Extradition

    Immigration Law

    Regulatory and Disciplinary Law

    Sports Law