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Mike Atkins

Call 2006

"Absolutely excellent and so hardworking, he's fully switched on."
(Chambers UK 2017)

Mike Atkins practises exclusively in the field of criminal regulatory law, with particular expertise in health & safety, inquests, consumer law, product safety, fire safety, environmental law, and food safety.

He regularly appears in significant and high profile cases, both in his own right and as a junior. He is instructed in cases of corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, prosecutions following fatal and other serious accidents, and appeals against enforcement notices. He frequently appears on behalf of multinational and household name companies as well as directors, employees and public bodies.

He has been appointed to List B of the list of specialist regulatory advocates to prosecute on behalf of the Health & Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Office of Rail and Road.

Criminal Regulatory & Environmental

Health & Safety

Mike is regularly instructed in cases of corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, prosecutions following fatal and other serious accidents, and appeals against enforcement notices. He frequently appears on behalf of multinational and household name companies as well as directors, employees and public bodies. He has been appointed to List B of the list of specialist regulatory advocates to prosecute on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and the Office of Rail and Road.

He has experience of cases involving construction and demolition, work at height, manufacturing and technology, warehousing and logistics, the rail industry, waste management and recycling, mining and quarrying, work with asbestos, fire safety, gas and electrical safety, medical treatment, residential care, schools and nurseries, and road traffic accidents. He regularly advises on challenges to invoices issued under the HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme.

Regulatory & Consumer Law

Mike has experience of a wide range of regulatory and consumer work including consumer protection, product safety, food safety, trade descriptions and advertising, the regulation of medical devices and building regulations. He is also instructed in inquests in this field, for example those arising out of outbreaks of food poisoning. He is a contributor to Westlaw Insight on Food Law.

Environmental Law

Mike has experience of prosecutions for environmental offences including cases of water pollution and breaches of permit conditions.

Selected Cases

Health & Safety

  • Junior counsel (led by John Cooper Q.C.) for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, acquitted of corporate manslaughter after two and a half weeks of trial. The defendant was the first Trust, as well as the largest organisation so far, to be prosecuted for the offence. The Trust’s subsequent application for costs thrown away as the result of an unnecessary or improper act or omission is reported as R v Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust [2016] EWHC 779 (QB).
  • Junior counsel (led by James Ageros Q.C.) for a manager of a recycling company prosecuted following a fatal accident.
  • Junior counsel (led by Jonathan Ashley-Norman Q.C.) for the ORR in a prosecution following the death of a railway depot worker who was electrocuted when he came into contact with the third rail.
  • Represented a senior site manager prosecuted following a serious lifting accident on a building site.
  • Junior counsel (led by Ben Compton Q.C.) for the owners of a care home prosecuted after an elderly resident suffered fatal scalding injuries.
  • Represented an NHS Trust in a prosecution for failure to manage bedrail risks.
  • Represented a large engineering company prosecuted for failure to manage the risks associated with vibrating tools.
  • Junior counsel (led by John Cooper Q.C.) for the Managing Director in the Lion Steel corporate manslaughter case. Not guilty verdicts were returned at Manchester Crown Court after three and a half weeks of trial.
  • Junior counsel (led by James Maxwell-Scott Q.C.) to the Coroner in the Lakanal House tower block fire inquests. The inquests lasted 3 months.
  • Secured the acquittal, after a seven-day Crown Court trial, of a director charged with neglect after a member of staff suffered life-changing injuries in a cellar hatch fall.
  • Junior counsel (led by John Cooper Q.C.) in a prosecution of one of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets, including successful argument about the proper interpretation of Sellafield and Network Rail [2014] EWCA Crim 49.
  • Represented a household name multinational food manufacturer following a serious guarding accident at a production plant.
  • Junior counsel (led by James Maxwell-Scott Q.C.) for the company that operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston following a fire in an explosives production building.
  • Represented a high profile multinational company specialising in aggregates and building materials after a serious accident at an asphalt batching plant.
  • Junior counsel (led by Jamie Hill Q.C.) for the senior director of an agricultural construction company. The director was charged with manslaughter after an employee fell from the roof of a large agricultural shed during repair work. The director was acquitted after a three-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
  • Represented an Italian espresso machine manufacturer prosecuted for supplying unsafe equipment. Successfully argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction to try the alleged offence.
  • Represented a large rail contractor following a serious accident involving a member of the public.
  • Represented Britain’s oldest brewing company after an employee was injured by moving cask washing equipment.
  • Junior counsel (led by John Cooper Q.C.) for a demolition contractor prosecuted after two employees were severely injured by the unplanned collapse of a concrete floor during demolition work.
  • Represented a letting agent charged with numerous breaches of the Fire Safety Order.
  • Represented a large environmental and spill response company following a chemical incident at a client’s site.
  • Represented the London Borough of Wandsworth in its successful appeal to the High Court in London Borough of Wandsworth v Covent Garden Market Authority [2011] EWHC 1245 (QB). The case is the leading authority on time limits in the context of appeals against prohibition and enforcement notices.

Regulatory & Consumer Law

  • Advised a British food industry association on the compatibility of proposed domestic legislation with European Union law.
  • Represented the local authority in a prosecution of a High Street coffee shop chain for food safety offences.
  • Represented an Italian espresso machine manufacturer prosecuted for supplying unsafe equipment. Successfully argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction to try the alleged offence.
  • Represented a supplier of fire safety equipment at an inquest where it was suggested that the company was responsible for an accident in which a child died.
  • Represented a salesman charged with using misleading and aggressive sales practices to sell adjustable and massaging beds to customers. Many of the alleged victims were elderly and vulnerable. Simon Antrobus represented the employer.
  • Represented the owner of a restaurant at which inspectors discovered live mice in boxes of food and many other serious breaches of food hygiene legislation.
  • Templeton Insurance Ltd v Motorcare Warranties Ltd [2013] All ER (D) 32 (Feb) – Junior counsel (led by Ben Quiney Q.C.) for a company director on his successful appeal to the Court of Appeal against a custodial sentence imposed for contempt of court (failure to comply with the terms of a freezing order made by the Commercial Court).

Environmental Law

  • Represented a waste treatment company prosecuted for discharges of waste chemicals in breach of permit.
  • Represented a large environmental and spill response company following a chemical incident at a client’s site.
  • Represented a company charged following an escape of fuel into controlled waters from a storage tank at an oil depot.

Inquests & Public Inquiries

Inquests

Mike regularly represents companies, directors, employees, families, and public bodies at inquests. He has extensive experience of cases in a broad range of contexts including deaths in custody, medical treatment, residential care, construction, manufacturing, fire safety, gas and electrical safety, sports and leisure, schools and nurseries and road traffic accidents.

Selected Cases

  • An inquest into the death of a railway depot worker who was electrocuted when he came into contact with the third rail.
  • Junior counsel (led by Ben Compton Q.C.) for the care home in an inquest into the death of an elderly resident who suffered fatal scalding injuries.
  • A week-long inquest into the death of a motorway worker who was trapped by the boom of a vacuum excavation machine.
  • A week-long inquest into the death of a supervisor killed when a silo of ink slipped from the forks of a forklift truck.
  • A week-long inquest into the death of a resident at a care home who choked on food.
  • A two-week inquest into the death of a member of the public who was struck by a horse and carriage at a country fair.
  • An inquest into the death of an infant who suffered serious fireplace burns.
  • A two-week inquest into the death of a contractor who fell from a cherry picker.
  • A four-day inquest into the death of a driver killed during a police pursuit.
  • A two-week inquest into the deaths of two students who were crushed to death at a nightclub in Northampton in 2011.
  • An inquest into the death of a patient who failed to recover from anaesthetic following major surgery.
  • Instructed to represent Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in the two-week inquest following the trial at which the Trust was acquitted of corporate manslaughter.
  • Represented an international carpet company in the five-week inquest into the death of an employee crushed by moving machinery. The case involved detailed consideration of the respective obligations of designers, suppliers and users of machinery.
  • Junior counsel (led by James Maxwell-Scott Q.C.) to the Coroner in the Lakanal House tower block fire inquests. The inquests lasted 3 months.
  • A week-long inquest into the death in custody of a remand prisoner. The case involved detailed examination of the mental health care arrangements at the prison.

Recommendations


“Phenomenally hard-working and fights his client’s corner with conviction. He has both skill and tenacity.”

Chambers & Partners UK Bar 2018

“A real lawyers’ lawyer, who demonstrates a painstaking attention to detail and outstanding intellect.”

Legal 500 2017

“Absolutely excellent and so hardworking, he’s fully switched on.”

Chambers UK 2017

“He is massively well prepared and extremely thorough.”

Chambers UK 2017

“He is extremely hard-working and has really developed his reputation over the past couple of years.”

Chambers UK 2016

“He is softly spoken, effective and very clever.”

Chambers UK 2016

“He’ll check every legal avenue to find the best possible outcome.”

Chambers UK 2015

“Very diligent, with a keen eye for detail.”

Legal 500 2015

“An approachable team player who has superb attention to detail…a popular choice for high profile matters such as corporate manslaughter cases and inquest work.”

Chambers UK 2014

“He is always thoroughly prepared and heavily researches every point.”

Chambers UK 2014

“A technical genius, who is becoming a go-to junior.”

Legal 500 2014

“Very thorough in his research, knows the cases inside out, very responsive and always gets to the issues.”

Chambers UK 2013


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