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Mike Atkins

Call 2006

"Phenomenally hard-working and fights his client’s corner with conviction. He has both skill and tenacity."
(Chambers UK 2018)

Criminal Regulatory & Environmental

Health & Safety

Mike is frequently instructed in the most serious and high-profile cases, including prosecutions for corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, health and safety offences, and appeals against enforcement notices.

He regularly advises and represents multinational and household name companies as well as directors, employees and public bodies. His clients have included Morrisons supermarkets, John Lewis, South Western Railway, Electricity North West, Bupa, Sisk Rail, JCB, HJ Heinz, CEMEX, Mace Group, Serco, Shepherd Neame, Norbert Dentressangle, AWE plc, and a number of NHS Trusts.

He has experience of cases involving construction and demolition, work at height, manufacturing and technology, warehousing and logistics, waste management and recycling, mining and quarrying, work with asbestos, gas and electrical safety, medical treatment, nursing and residential care, schools and nurseries, and road traffic accidents.

He has considerable experience of Fire Safety work, having acted as junior counsel to the Coroner in the Lakanal House tower block fire inquests.

He is developing particular expertise in rail industry work, acting on behalf of both train operating companies (TOCs) and railway industry contractors. He has previously acted on behalf of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

He regularly advises on challenges to invoices issued under the HSE Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme.

Environmental Law

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

Selected Cases

Health & Safety

  • Representing a gas distribution network operator in the inquest into the death of a homeowner killed by a domestic gas explosion.
  • Representing a railway industry contractor in relation to the inquest into the death of a possession support worker who was killed on the track during planned engineering works.
  • Representing a university in relation to the inquest into the death of one of its students.
  • Instructed on behalf of the Managing Director of a care home who was prosecuted following a fire in which two residents died.
  • Represented for a small farming business following a fatal accident in which a telehandler collided with a pedestrian.
  • Represented a sole-trader painter and decorator charged after one of his employees fell from a roof and was paralysed from the chest down.
  • Represented a lifeguard charged with wilful neglect after an incident in which a child nearly drowned.
  • Junior Counsel (led by John Cooper Q.C.) instructed on behalf of the demolition contractor in relation to the Didcot Power Station collapse.
  • Represented a department store business in the week-long inquest into the tragic death of a student who committed suicide at one of its stores.
  • Acted for the operator of a leisure centre in the seven-day inquest into the death of a visitor who was fatally electrocuted when he climbed the fence surrounding an outdoor 5-a-side football pitch.
  • Represented a train operating company at the inquest into the death of a passenger who suffered a cardiac arrest during her journey.
  • Represented the company which operated a nursing home and its Managing Director in the week-long inquest into the death of a resident who contracted Legionnaires’ disease.
  • Represented a train operating company at the inquest into the death of a passenger who jumped onto the outside of a train as it was departing from a station.
  • Represented a care home at the week-long inquest into the death of a resident who refused to take his medication and subsequently died of diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Represented a care home in the four-day inquest into the death of a resident who had developed a Grade 4 pressure sore.
  • Represented one of the ‘Big Four’ supermarkets at the inquest into the death of a customer who collapsed outside one of its stores.
  • 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 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 James Maxwell-Scott Q.C.) to the Coroner in the Lakanal House tower block fire inquests. The inquests lasted 3 months.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

Regulatory & Consumer Law

Regulatory & Consumer Law

Mike has developed a strong practice in Regulatory & Consumer Law, including Food Safety, Product Safety, Consumer Law, the regulation of medical devices, and building regulations.

He is regularly instructed to advise in relation to cases concerning food allergies, food poisoning, and the sale of date-expired food.

Selected Cases

Regulatory & Consumer Law

  • Advising a foreign food manufacturing business in connection with the investigation into the death of a customer who suffered a severe allergic reaction.
  • Representing various clients in connection with the alleged sale of date-expired food.
  • Represented a restaurant chain prosecuted after a customer was served food containing nuts despite having told staff that she had a severe nut allergy.
  • Represented a catering company at the inquest into the death of a primary school pupil who suffered a severe allergic reaction.
  • 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).
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Recommendations


“A rising star” and “a very accomplished technical lawyer who works very hard and is always very well prepared.”

Chambers UK 2020

“A very user-friendly barrister.”

Legal 500 2020

“Brilliant in terms of his attention to detail and the way he takes hold of a case.”

Chambers UK 2019

“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 softly spoken, effective and very clever.”

Chambers UK 2016

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

Chambers UK 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

“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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