Michael Polak

Year of Call - 2012

Full Profile

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.

Serious Crime

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.

Kidnapping Trial

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.

Private Prosecutions

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.

Appellate Work

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.

International Crime

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.

Human Rights

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.

Appointments and Scholarships

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.

Publications and Seminars

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

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

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



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.


  • Michael Polak wins the 2021 IBA Outstanding Young Lawyer Award
  • Lewis Power QC & Michael Polak Achieve Spectacular International Success In Supreme Court of Cyprus in Landmark Case of Teenager Rape Appeal.
  • Church Court’s Michael Polak Begins Term as Chair of the Young Bar
  • Michael Polak Speaks at World Uyghur Congress 7th General Assembly Panel in Prague on ‘Uyghur Genocide: Avenues Towards Accountability’
  • Michael Polak Wins International Bar Association Outstanding Young Lawyer of 2021 Award
  • Lewis Power QC and Michael Polak Secure a Retrial Acquittal for Alleged £20m Tobacco Fraud Mastermind
  • Lewis Power QC and Michael Polak take the Landmark Cyprus Rape Case to the Supreme Court of Cyprus
  • Michael Polak Chairs Panels at International Conference: ‘The Xinjiang Crisis: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Justice’ held at Newcastle University
  • Michael Polak is Instructed to seek Magnitsky-style Sanctions Against the Bahraini Government Under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime
  • Journalist Detained in Somalia Represented by Michael Polak Freed
  • Michael Polak Speaks on Centre for Turkey Studies Panel “Does China’s Ongoing Persecution of the Uighurs Amount to Genocide, and What Can the International Community Do About it?”
  • Church Court Chambers’ Michael Polak Submits Communication to African Commission on Human Rights for Kilwe Farah, Journalist Detained in Puntland since December Because of his Media Work
  • Michael Polak, Working with Somali Journalists Syndicate, Acts for Journalist Kilwe and Calls for Puntland Authorities to Drop Charges
  • Success for Michael Polak in Large Scale Drug Importation Trial at Canterbury Crown Court
  • Kerim Fuad QC Speaks on International Weekend Panel about The Future of the Legal Profession in Different Jurisdictions in Light of COVID-19
  • Michael Polak Acting for Somali Journalist Syndicate Submits UN Communications Concerning Attacks on Journalism in Somalia
  • Michael Polak Lodges Written Submissions on behalf of World Uyghur Congress to International Olympic Committee’s Ethical Commission Concerning Beijing 2022
  • Michael Polak Instructed to Advise in Potential Private Prosecution of Hong Kong Police Officers
  • Chambers return to trials at Reading Crown Court
  • Michael Polak Speaks at World Uyghur Congress Seminar on Human Rights and Huawei
  • Michael Polak Instructed to Act for British Uyghurs in Challenge to Government Huawei 5G Decision
  • Chambers’ Michael Polak Sets Up “Fuel Our Frontline” to Feed NHS Staff During Coronavirus Crisis
  • Lewis Power QC and Michael Polak Involved in Internationally Reported Cyprus Teenager Rape Case
  • Church Court’s Michael Polak Elected as President of Middle Temple Young Barristers’ Association
  • A ‘Law Check’ of Conservative Party HQ’s Fake Twitter ‘Fact Check’
  • 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


    Immigration Law

    Regulatory and Disciplinary Law

    Sports Law