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

Mike is a highly experienced junior counsel who frequently leads in the Crown Court.  One of Mike’s specialisms is health & safety work.  He has represented a number of major high street retailers in respect of a wide range of criminal matters including not only health & safety, but also trade descriptions, delivery hours, under age alcohol sales, food hygiene, breach of advertising regulations, and water pollution offences.  He has also advised and represented retailers in relation to appeals against the issue of prohibition notices by the Health & Safety Executive.

Mike has:

  • been instructed in numerous 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.
  • 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 Mike was instructed to advise.
  • represented M&S in a prosecution for pollution of a watercourse.
  • advised a water company in relation to a water pollution incident involving the discharge of cyanide. 
  • defended an Academy in relation to the removal of asbestos from school premises.
  • acted as leading junior counsel in a prosecution under the Medicines For Human Use (Marketing Authorisations) Regulations 1994 of a manufacturer and retailer 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'. 
  • been instructed to advise and represent in cases concerning fatalities arising from falls from height both for the prosecution and for the defence. 
  • 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 roofs of industrial premises sustaining fatal injuries.  
  • defended 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. 
  • prosecuted on behalf of the HSE in cases involving fatalities, including falls from height and the fatal electrocution of a contractor undertaking building work in a food processing factory.
  • 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. 
  • represented several 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; offences under the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations; and has prosecuted a 5 week jury trial in relation to charges including Fraudulent Trading and ancillary offences under the CPUT Regulations, as leading junior in relation to the retailing of previously written off cars.
  • represented a Local Authority in a two-week appeal in the Crown Court following the conviction of an engineering company for noise nuisance, where he was against Queen's Counsel instructed on behalf of the defendant company.
  • 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.
  • 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) An appeal by way of case stated in relation to the detention of goods by a port authority.  (iv) As to whether there were any criminal offences committed as a result of alleged irregularities during a local election.
  • been instructed to advise and represent in several pollution cases involving the deposit of controlled waste and also concerning breach of planning control.
  • prosecuted cases involving breaches of animal welfare legislation and associated offences.  He 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.
  • been instructed in 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.

Mike also specialises in commercial fraud and has been instructed in cases including income tax fraud, VAT/MTIC fraud, conspiracy to defraud and corruption.  He has a background of instruction and advocacy in respect of other serious crime including (for example) murder, attempted murder, gross negligence manslaughter, drugs conspiracies and serious sexual offences.  He was prosecution junior to Nicholas Haggan QC in the murder trial of the first Indian national to be extradited to the UK.  He received a commendation from the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary for ‘outstanding professionalism, dedication and personal commitment’ for his work in this trial.  In 2013 and 2016 he received further similar awards.

As leading junior, Mike has prosecuted several long jury trials including a 26 handed conspiracy and money laundering case resulting in two trials which took in excess of 4 months to complete overall.

Mike has 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 2017 paragraph 15-10).  
  • an appeal to the Court of Appeal in a case which is one of the leading authorities on the meaning of 'demand' in blackmail (see R-v- Lambert [2010] 1 Cr App 21 - Archbold 2017, paragraphs 21-212-214). 
  • 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 had significant consequences for traffic enforcement nationally.  The Divisional Court rejected the argument.
  • an appeal to the Court of Appeal in relation to a terminating ruling in the Crown Court in relation to a case involving conspiracy to defraud.

In the civil sphere Mike has recently advised and represented a national judicial services company in respect of warrants of distress and of control relation to bailiffs and enforcement proceedings.

Michael  Forster

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