Michael Forster

Teams: Crime & Regulatory (General Crime, Asset Recovery & Money Laundering, Licensing, Court Martial & Service Law, Trading Standards, Health & Safety, Food Safety, Environment, Animal Health, Inquests, Prison Law, Judicial Review), Public Access (Direct Public Access)

Year Called: 1984

Inn: Gray's Inn

Qualifications: LLB - University of London King's College

Appointments: Attorney General’s Specialist Unified List of Prosecuting Counsel, Grade ‘A’ (Since 2003); List A of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in Health and Safety and Environmental Law; CPS Grade 4 (Since the mid 1990s)

Memberships: Health and Safety Lawyers Association; Criminal Bar Association; Western Circuit

One of my specialisms is health & safety work.  I have represented a number of major high street retailers in respect of a wide range of criminal matters including health & safety; trade descriptions; delivery hours; under age alcohol sales; food hygiene; breach of advertising regulations; and water pollution offences. 

I have also advised and represented retailers in relation to appeals against the issue of prohibition notices by the Health & Safety Executive.

I have been instructed in a number of cases involving accidents in industrial and commercial premises. One case involved an incident concerning a fork-lift truck and side loader which was in a dangerous condition.  Another was an appeal against a prohibition notice preventing use of an escalator in a large department store after an accident in which a child's wellington boot and foot were drawn into the mechanism.

I represented Marks & Spencer plc as junior to N Haggan QC in a prosecution by the HSE under s2 & s3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 concerning asbestos removal at several of the company’s stores.  The trial lasted in excess of 12 weeks.  The case included complex specialist issues relating to asbestos removal and epidemiological evidence as well as difficult legal and scientific issues.  This case was of significant national public interest.  Media attention continued post trial as the case was featured in the BBC ‘Inside Out’ programme in respect of which I was instructed to advise.

I have also represented M&S in a prosecution for pollution of a watercourse and advised a water company in relation to a water pollution incident involving the discharge of cyanide. 

I was leading junior counsel in a prosecution under the Medicines For Human Use (Marketing Authorisations) Regulations 1994 of a retailer and manufacturer of ‘herbal highs’, which were allegedly unlawfully marketed.  This involved the interpretation and application of EU law and Directives.  It was a difficult case involving many thousands of pages of evidence and complex points of law surrounding the definition of 'relevant medicinal product'. 

I have been involved in a number of cases concerning fatalities arising from falls from height.  I have represented a major retailer in appeals against prohibition notices and / or prosecutions under s2 & 3 of the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974 when workers fell from the roof of industrial premises sustaining fatal injuries. I have also represented the proprietor of a recycling company facing charges under regulations 4 & 9 of the CDM Regulations when a subcontractor fell through the roof of a factory building during construction work sustaining serious injuries.

I have been instructed for the prosecution and the defence in cases relating to distributing counterfeit software in breach of copyright and supplying goods to which a false trade description is applied.  I have represented a number of local authorities in relation to trading standards offences and other trading offences, for example the prosecution of a toy manufacturer and wholesale distributor in respect of unsafe and incorrectly marked toys; and offences under the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations.
I have represented a Local Authority in a two-week appeal in the Crown Court following conviction for noise nuisance, where I was against Queen's Counsel instructed on behalf of the defendant company.

I have been instructed in gross negligence manslaughter cases, one of which concerned an investigation involving a large number of fatalities of elderly patients in hospital. In particular, this required consideration of disclosure issues under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and requests for further information by various statutory bodies.

I have advised local authorities on various issues in relation to (i) an appeal by way of case stated regarding delegation of power to commence proceedings within a local authority and the effect of the same on subsequent proceedings.  (ii) an appeal to the High Court about the ambit of a resolution prohibiting street trading.  (iii) As to whether there were any criminal offences committed as a result of alleged irregularities during a local election.

I have prosecuted a number of cases involving breaches of animal welfare legislation and associated offences.

I have been instructed to advise and represent in a number of cases involving the deposit of controlled waste and also concerning breach of planning control.

I have prosecuted a two-week jury trial of regulatory offences arising from a failure to comply with the Animal By-Products Regulations.  This involved an argument on a complex point of law re the meaning of 'food producing animal' and the applicability of EU community regulations.

I have been instructed in a number of inquests involving: (i) the fatal injury of a maintenance contractor falling onto a railway track; (ii) the death of a young worker in a grain silo; (iii) a fatality during a police pursuit; (iv) the death of a police officer responding to an emergency call; and (v) the treatment of a young person whilst in care of a local authority.

I also specialise in commercial fraud and have been instructed in cases including income tax fraud, VAT/MTIC fraud, conspiracy to defraud and corruption.  I have a broad experience of other serious crime including murder.  In 2009 I was prosecution junior to Nicholas Haggan QC in the murder trial of the first Indian national to be extradited to this country.  I received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary for ‘outstanding professionalism, dedication and personal commitment’ for my work in this trial.  In 2013 I received a further commendation for similar work.

I have long experience of applications for judicial review & appeals by way of case stated.  This includes a judicial review case concerning the issue of whether a head teacher was bound by codes under PACE when questioning a teacher about an alleged assault on a pupil. (Reported as DPP-v-G (Duty to Investigate) - see Archbold 2014 paragraph 15-9).   I have also represented the prosecution in several applications for judicial review relating to technical aspects of road traffic offences.  P–v-DPP was a test case heard in 2010 in relation to the “envelope argument”.  This postulates that any non-compliance with the signage regulations results in unenforceability of the speed limit.  This would have significant consequences for traffic enforcement nationally.  The Divisional Court rejected the argument.

I have represented the prosecution in an appeal to the Court of Appeal in relation to a 'terminatory ruling' in the Crown Court.

I have represented the prosecution in the Court of Appeal in a case which is the leading authority on the meaning of 'demand' in blackmail (see R-v- Lambert [2010] 1 Cr App 21 - Archbold 2014, paragraph 21-261).


Michael  Forster

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