Michael Coley’s practice covers a range of areas in commercial, consumer, and regulatory law.  His particular sector expertise includes aviation, financial services, online gambling and gaming, and life sciences.  He is equally at home in criminal and civil matters, and in addition to being an experienced trial and appellate advocate, he maintains a substantial advisory practice.  He has appeared un-led in a number of complex cases including in the Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the Central Criminal Court, and has particular experience in cases involving technical expert evidence, novel products or technologies, and businesses with cross-jurisdictional operations.

Before starting in practice at the Bar, Michael worked at the Court of Appeal, where he served as Judicial Assistant to the then-Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.  During his time at the Court of Appeal, Michael was seconded to the Leveson Inquiry, where his work dealt with competition law and merger control in the media sector.

In addition to his practice, Michael regularly writes and speaks on the law in his specialist areas.  He has been published in various periodicals, and is a contributor to Trading Standards: Law and Practice, Miller: Product Liability and Safety, and The Encyclopedia of Financial Services Law.

For more information on any of Michael’s areas of practice, please click on one of the headings below.

  • Aviation

    Michael’s aviation practice covers both the commercial and operational aspects of air transport operations.  He has acted in cases ranging from those involving commercial airlines to general aviation, including cases concerning novel technologies and legal issues, such as those surrounding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

    As a consumer law specialist, Michael is well-versed in the consumer protection provisions relevant to air transport.  He is one of the authors of the chapter on travel law in Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice, where his contribution focuses on Regulation 261/2004 and the Montreal Convention.  He is also able to act in cases concerning the sale, lease, and registration of aircraft, including consumer disputes and issues related to syndicate agreements.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Re. W. Ltd.: Advice on an air transport operator’s obligations regarding the provision of care and assistance under Articles 8 and 9 of Retained EC Regulation 261/2004.
    • Ryanair DAC v CAA [2022] EWCA Civ 76: Led by Kevin de Haan KC. Acting on behalf of the CAA an in action under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 concerning whether industrial action by an air carrier’s staff amounts to extraordinary circumstances for the purpose of Regulation (EC) 261/2004.  Kevin and Michael also acted for the CAA at first instance (CAA v Ryanair DAC [2021] EWHC 1476 (Ch)).
    • Re. an airport: Advice on liability for flights missed by consumers as a result of security delays arising from under-staffing.
    • E. v E. Ltd.: Advice on the exclusivity of the Montreal Convention and its relationship to Reg. (EC) 261/2004.
    • Re. D. Inc.: Advising on commercial and regulatory considerations for a California-based company intending to sell competition-grade UAVs in the UK.
    • CAA v H.: Representing a pilot accused of infringing restricted airspace, leading to disruption of a display by the Red Arrows.
    • Re. C.: Advising on an estate claim arising from a fatal air accident in which an aircraft crashed in a residential area following an engine failure during take-off.
  • Commercial & company

    Michael deals with a wide range of commercial matters, both contentious and non-contentious.  He has extensive experience in contractual disputes and also has a particular specialism in cases involving corporate or individual wrongdoing, including civil fraud; economic torts, such as knowing receipt and unlawful means conspiracy; and breaches of directors’ duties under the Companies Act 2006.

    In company law, Michael has dealt with issues including corporate insolvency, shareholder disputes, corporate governance, unfair prejudice, winding-up and striking off, and reinstatement to the Register of Companies.  He has advised and represented directors and undertakings ranging from single-person companies to major high-street brands and large corporations with a multi-national presence.

    As a regulatory specialist, Michael also routinely advises businesses on regulation and compliance.  As part of this area of his practice, he has extensive experience advising foreign-based companies on the regulatory aspects of operating in the UK as part of their cross-jurisdictional operations, including cases involving issues of conflict of laws and choice of law and forum clauses.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Re. T. Ltd.: Advice on options and remedies in a shareholder dispute against a backdrop of possible company insolvency.
    • Re. A. Inc.: Led by Jonathan Kirk KC . Advising on whether UK-based consumers, whose contracts with a company incorporated in California were governed by English law, but without a choice of forum clause, should be to be joined to an opt-out federal class action proceeding in the  District Court in California.
    • Re. T. Ltd.: Advice on potential claims in restitution where money held on behalf of a client was stolen, in breach of fiduciary duty, by an employee, and then gambled away. The case involved consideration of the rule in Karpnale v Lipkin Gorman in light of the Gambling Act 2005 and the Akindele test for knowing receipt.
    • Re. G. Ltd. and P. SpA.: Advising on compliance with Reg. (EC) 1169/2011, and the marketing in the UK generally, of food products produced partly in Italy and partly in the UK by an Italian company and its UK subsidiary.
    • W. Inc. v S. Ltd.: Commercial dispute over the potential liabilities to which a high-street retailer would be exposed as a result of the defendant supplying packaging for a product line displaying incorrect pricing in breach of contract. The case concerned issues of regulatory liability and mitigation of loss.
    • X. Ltd. v U. Ltd. and anor.: Commercial dispute involving breach of contract and director’s duties. The case involved an application for reinstatement of a defendant company to the Register of Companies following a striking-off application under s. 1003 of the Companies Act 2006 and the potentially unlawful dissipation of assets in insolvency.
    • Accident Exchange Limited v George-Broom and 6 ors. [2017] EWHC 1096 (Admin); [2017] ACD 93: Part of the long-running Accident Exchange/Autofocus litigation. Acted for the Fifth Defendant in an 8-week trial in the QBD concerning false rates evidence provided in approximately 30,000 credit hire cases.  Estimated loss to the claimant was in the region of £126 million.


  • Competition

    Michael’s competition expertise encompasses anti-competitive practices, cartel offences, merger control, and state aid. He has acted in complex cases as both led and sole junior. He has a particular interest in the interaction between competition and intellectual property law, and has written and presented on that topic.  In 2012 Michael was seconded to the Leveson Inquiry as judicial assistant to Leveson LJ, where his work dealt with merger control in the media sector.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • CMA v I. Ltd.: Led by Jonathan Kirk KC. Advice on allegations of market-sharing and challenges to a warrant under the Competition Act 1998.
    • Re. F. Ltd.: Advising in relation to vertical pricing practices potentially amounting to price discrimination, margin-squeezing, and constructive refusal to supply.
  • Data protection & privacy

    Michael’s experience in this area encompasses breach of privacy, misuse of personal information, freedom of information, data protection, direct marketing, and damages in tort and under the DPA 2018.  He has advised and represented public authorities in relation to investigatory powers, data protection, data-sharing with private sector partners, and cross-disclosure of intelligence between civil and criminal proceedings.   He  also writes and lectures on information law issues and has provided training to a number of organisations on civil and criminal disclosure, online intelligence-gathering, and the General Data Protection Regulation.  Michael is one of the authors of the chapter on information law in Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Re. I Ltd.: Advising in relation to the lawfulness of the use of ANPR for parking enforcement.
    • Re. W. Ltd.: Advising in relation to vexatious subject rights requests under the GDPR.
    • Re. M. Ltd.: Advising an FCA-regulated company on the interaction between the GDPR and regulatory requirements imposed under the FCA Handbook.
    • Re. N.: Advising a national enforcement agency on GDPR compliance, involving reviewing and drafting required policies and notices and assessment of the impact on activities related to gathering and sharing intelligence.
    • Re. T. Ltd.: Advice concerning the relationship between the DPA98 and disclosure requirements under the CPIA96.
    • Re. T. Ltd.: Advice concerning the lawfulness of a proposed information-sharing arrangement under the DPA98.
  • Financial services

    Michael undertakes a broad range of advisory work, drafting, and advocacy in this area.  He frequently appears in court in claims involving unfair relationships, secret and half-secret commissions, and allegations of breach of fiduciary duty.  He has appeared at both trial and interlocutory arguments in numerous claims concerning payment protection insurance (PPI), solar PV system financing, mortgages, and motor vehicle financing.  He has also advised companies operating in the financial services sector in cases which overlap with his other areas of practice, such as data protection.

    Michael is a contributor to The Encyclopaedia of Financial Services Law (Sweet and Maxwell).

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Re. M. Ltd.: Advising an FCA-regulated company on the interaction between the GDPR and regulatory requirements imposed under the FCA Handbook.
  • Intellectual property & brand protection

    Michael is able to advise and act in a broad range of IP matters, including those brought by way of civil claims, enforcement under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, and criminal prosecutions (both public and private).  With a detailed knowledge of procedure in both the civil and criminal courts, Michael is well-placed to advise at an early stage in cases where choice of forum is an issue.

    Michael has a particular interest in the  relationship between IP and competition law, including cases involving the exclusion or restriction of IP protection on competition grounds.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Re. C. Ltd.: Advising on whether the contents of a database published on a website attracted copyright protection and whether the practice of “site-scraping” amounted to infringement for the purposes of the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.
    • Brent LBC v V. Ltd. and anor. (Central Criminal Court): Large-scale trade mark infringement case involving automotive parts and accessories.
    • MHRA v L. and 10 ors. (Op. Daniel) (Central Criminal Court): Acted for one of eleven defendants in an £11 million cross-jurisdictional conspiracy to trade in unlicensed and counterfeit medical products.
  • Life sciences and food

    Michael has advised and appeared in a number of cases involving medical devices and products, novel foods, food supplements, and CBD products.  His work covers (inter alia) the regulation of such products, advertising, and health claims.  As part of this area of practice, Michael is well-versed in the issues arising from the use of scientific and technical evidence and has extensive experience of presenting and challenging expert evidence in a number of fields.  He acts for both regulators and businesses.

    Representaative work in this area includes:

    • Re. J. BV.: Advice on regulatory compliance and the associated contractual implications in respect of the sale of CBD products.
    • Re T. Ltd.: Advice on the regulation of the sale of alkyl nitrates under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 in the context of a refusal by a merchant acquirer bank to supply a merchant ID on grounds of illegality.
    • Re. E. Ltd. and anor.: Advice on enforcement for breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 linked to misleading marketing of PPE and aggressive sales practices.
    • Camden LBC v Denton [2020] EWCA Crim 410: Appeal against conviction and sentence arising from the prosecution of an alternative health practitioner for misleading health claims, following a referral by the ASA. Appeal involved questions of admissibility, bad character of non-defendants, interpretation of the CPUT Regulations and Food Safety Act 1990, sentencing, and the use of Criminal Behaviour Orders in cases involving consumer offences.  Michael also represented Camden LBC at first instance in the Crown Court.
    • MHRA v L. and 10 ors. (Op. Daniel) (Central Criminal Court): Acted for one of eleven defendants in an £11 million cross-jurisdictional conspiracy to trade in unlicensed and counterfeit medical products.
  • Other regulatory law

    Michael has a varied regulatory practice covering both the civil and criminal aspects of this area of law.  He has a well-established trading standards practice, and regularly appears on behalf of trading standards authorities in criminal prosecutions and civil actions under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002.  He also has a substantial advisory practice in this area, and regularly advises businesses on regulation and compliance.

    Representative work in this area includes:

    • Essex County Council v S. and 9 ors. (Op. Havana) (Southwark Crown Court): Led by Alison Lambert.  Prosecution for conspiracy to defraud concerning the mis-sale of add-on products for solar PV systems.  The case involved 10 defendants, operating through four companies with a total turnover in the region of £6.5m.
    • B. and ors v F. Ltd. (City of London Magistrates’ Court): Noise nuisance action brought by residents of a building adjoining a gym involving presentation and testing of acoustic expert evidence.
    • North Northampton Council v E. Ltd. and 3 ors. (Op. Haggard) (Northampton Crown Court): Led by Jonathan Goulding. Prosecution for fraudulent trading of a claims management company operating in the flight delay compensation sector.
    • Royal Borough of Greenwich v L. Ltd. and 2 ors. (Bromley County Court): Claim brought under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 concerning claims made by a motor dealership to consumers in the course of used car sales.
    • Peterborough CC v G. and anor. (Peterborough Crown Court): Prosecution of the largest case of illegal importation and sale of pet animals seen in the UK, involving 14 offences under animal health, licensing, consumer protection, and money laundering legislation.
    • M. v J. Ltd. (Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court): Successful defence of construction company in private prosecution for breach of the Building Regulations 2010.
  • Events
  • News
  • Education
    • Called Inner Temple 2011
    • Inner Temple Exhibition
    • LLB (Hons) at Birkbeck, London, First Class
    • BPTC at City Law School, Outstanding
  • Publications
    • Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice (Lexis Nexis) Michael contributes to the chapters on information law and travel law.
    • Encyclopaedia of Financial Services Law (Sweet and Maxwell) Michael contributes to a number of chapters in this loose-leaf work.
    • Miller: Product Liability and Safety (Lexis Nexis) Michael edits the chapters on liability in tort, group litigation, and conflict of laws.
  • Memberships
    • South Eastern Circuit
    • Competition Law Association
    • Financial Services Lawyers’ Association
    • Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Privacy

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VAT number: 158 2146 10