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Michael Napier, a major influence on:

Reform of legal services

Access to justice

Law reform

Litigation funding

Group actions

Pro bono

Michael Napier has been at the centre of the core changes in the delivery of legal services, law reform, access to justice issues and major cases, whilst also leading top 20 law firm Irwin Mitchell from which he retired in May 2012 after 40 years. In the business of law Michael is well known as a successful achiever, broadcaster, commentator and author.In an interview following his award as ‘Lawyer of the Year 2012’ he was described by Legal Business as “A Man For All Seasons.” View Article >

When Michael was President of the Law Society in 2001 the Office of Fair Trading published its report on competition in the legal profession. This was followed by Sir David Clementi’s report on regulation and the Government’s white paper ‘Putting Consumers First’. The subsequent Legal Services Act 2007 introduced.

Alternative Business Structures (ABS) and established the Legal Services Board to which Michael was appointed in 2008.

Following the introduction of the Access to Justice Act in 1999 Michael was one of the initial appointees to the Civil Justice Council (CJC) on which he served for 10 years and co-authored a number of influential papers on the funding and costs of civil cases. As a consultant to the CJC he chaired the group that produced the Code of Conduct for third party litigation funders in 2011 and the CJC working party on contingency fees recommended by Lord Justice Jackson’s report on civil litigation costs (to which Michael was an assessor) and now legalised by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

In the numerous reforms to the law and procedure of civil costs over the last 20 years Michael has been a central figure in helping others to understand and apply the ‘no win – no fee’ model. As an accredited (CEDR) mediator Michael employed ADR (alternative dispute resolution) techniques on behalf of the Civil Justice Council to placate the so called ‘costs wars’ between insurers and claimant lawyers.

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Michael Napier Photo

Michael Napier, a major influence on:

Reform of legal services

Access to justice

Law reform

Litigation funding

Group actions

Pro bono

Michael’s commitment to the pro bono contribution of lawyers giving something back to the community led to his appointment in 2001 as the Attorney-General’s pro bono envoy to promote pro bono activity by all branches of the legal profession and to co-ordinate links with the not for profit sector. He is a trustee of the National Pro Bono Centre and in 2005 he received the CBE for services to the law and pro bono.

Michael’s name is particularly associated with multi-party (group) actions in which for 10 years in the 1980s/90s together with Rodger Pannone in the firm Pannone Napier he pioneered developments in the law and procedure to ensure redress to victims of the many transport and product liability disasters of the period. His early appreciation of the increasingly

specialised skills required of personal injury lawyers led him jointly to found the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers where he was President in 1994-96. As a result of his case Blackburn v Newcastle Health Authority the Law Society introduced specialist panels of solicitors accredited to conduct personal injury and clinical negligence cases.

In his career as a solicitor, Michael Napier has caused many important changes in the law and procedure through leading cases.He was the first solicitor advocate to appear before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in 1981 in X v United Kingdom. He holds full higher rights of audience and in 2004 was appointed Queen’s Counsel Queen’s Counsel (Honoris Causa).

Michael’s contribution to European Law went beyond the European Court of Human Rights to the European Court of Justice where the leading case Barber v Guardian Royal established the platform for equal treatment for men and women in their pension rights.

In the public sector,aside from civil law reform working with the Ministry of Justice, and in recognition of his role as a mental health lawyer in 1983 Michael was appointed by the Health Secretary to the patients’ watchdog body the Mental Health Act Commission and he later chaired the managers of Rampton Special Hospital.

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