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‘An innovative and progressive set that continues to be instructed in high-profile and often law-defining cases.’Chambers and Partners 2014
Michelle Butler

Contact: Practice Manager:

Michelle is described in the 2018 edition of Chambers and Partners as “incredibly knowledgeable, effective, client-friendly, persuasive and a delight to work with”. She has a wide-ranging civil, commercial, criminal and arbitration practice and regularly appears in both domestic and international courts and tribunals. Michelle is experienced in advising and representing States, corporations, public bodies and individuals in complex and evidence heavy disputes. She is well versed at both working in and managing multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural litigation teams.

As well as dealing with a broad range of disputes in the domestic and international courts arising from countries all over the world, Michelle has also conducted casework in fragile States, such as Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Georgia, Iraq, Sudan and Libya. In addition, she has undertaken fact-finding delegations, provided human rights training and carried out trial observations in Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Michelle is consistently recognised in the leading UK directories in both International Criminal Law and Public International Law. She was appointed to the Attorney-General’s Public International Law Panel in 2014. Prior to coming to the Bar in 2007, Michelle qualified as a Solicitor in Australia and worked both in private practice (in commercial litigation) and as a Government lawyer (specialising in international law).  In her early career, she was recognised as the Law Council’s Australian Young Lawyer of the Year (2002).


Michelle is experienced in investment treaty arbitration, international commercial arbitration, and sports-related arbitrations and has acted or advised in a number of significant ICC, ICSID, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA, OIC and FA arbitrations.  She advises and acts for States, companies and individuals on arbitration matters across a range of different sectors.  Recent work includes acting for Sudan in an ICC arbitration relating to banking instruments, and acting for an investor in an ICSID arbitration relating to Kazakhstan.


Michelle has acted in a variety of public international law disputes and is recommended in this field as a “technically brilliant” barrister who “does meticulous research, gives really good advice and is very good at managing expectations”. Michelle has represented States in inter-state cases before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”) and the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”).  She has also acted for a State challenging the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) and has represented Governments, NGOs and individuals in proceedings in the English Courts dealing with public international law issues. Michelle regularly advises governments, companies and NGOs on matters pertaining to the law of the sea; treaty law; immunities; attribution; extra-territorial jurisdiction; non-justiciability and the act of State doctrine; international human rights; international criminal law; and international humanitarian law.


Michelle is an international criminal law specialist having conducted pre-trial, trial and appellate proceedings before the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“SCSL”). She has acted in these proceedings as counsel for suspects, defendants, witnesses and for States challenging the jurisdiction of the ICC. She routinely advises on a variety of international criminal law issues, including challenging the imposition of EU and UN sanctions. Michelle is also experienced in extradition proceedings, Crown Court trials and representing individuals in death row appeals to the Privy Council.


Michelle’s public law practice centres on judicial review and other human rights claims arising in the context of crime and armed conflict.  Her work includes advising and undertaking casework on:

  • the duty to prevent breaches of human rights occuring during armed conflicts;
  • challenging national security orders imposed on individuals suspected of terrorism related activities, such as control orders, TPIMs and deprivations of citizenship;
  • prison law; and
  • police misconduct.

Michelle accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.

Michelle discusses the law concerning post-conflict situations in her Matrix International interview.

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