Michael Blair QC

Michael Blair QC

Call: 1965 | Silk: 1996

"He has a huge amount of industry experience."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

"A very strong barrister."

- Chambers & Partners UK Bar (2022)

Practice Overview

Michael Blair remains a full member of Chambers, though he no longer accepts instructions from new clients. He continues to honour all existing commitments, including instructions already delivered and cases where he holds a retainer.

He is a specialist on financial services and financial services regulation. He has been continuously rated by Chambers and Partners over the last ten years, with nine years as a "Star Individual" in the financial services category, and most recently, in the 2022 Edition, as a “Senior Statesperson” in the same category.

He  was  recently described in that directory as “a leading light of  the  financial regulatory scene thanks to  his extensive experience not  only at  the  Bar but  also within many regulatory bodies through their various iterations. Now working primarily in an advisory capacity, he is “highly valued for the  strength of the  counsel he can  offer on  pan-European matters.” Very clear, detailed, analytical and technically exact in his advice, while also being very commercial . . . deep understanding of regulatory perspective.“A very strong barrister.”  In the Legal 500,  he is rated  in Tier 1 in Financial Services Regulation, as “a hugely respected silk within the  financial services  community” (2020) and  as “extremely responsive, succinct and  always to the point [which] has helped to get through a vast amount of complex material speedily and efficiently” (2021).

His practice is mainly advisory. He joined Chambers in 2000 after serving as General Counsel to the Board  of the (then) Financial Services Authority from 1998  - 2000, and as head of the legal function in its predecessor body, the Securities and Investments Board, from 1987  - 1997. Before that he had served from 1982 - 1987 as an Under Secretary in the then Lord Chancellor’s Department, latterly taking responsibility for the criminal and civil legal aid schemes in England and Wales as well as for the higher courts and matters affecting the legal profession.

His practice is largely advisory though he led Robert Purves in 2016 in the Supreme Court in the leading appellate case on regulation of collective investment schemes (Asset  Land v FCA). He has appeared before the Chancery Division (banking transfer schemes and insolvency proceedings with a financial services flavour), the Upper Tribunal (in relation to split  capital investment trusts  and, alleged unauthorised trading) and the former FSA’s Regulatory Decisions Committee  (enforcement proceedings). He  has  also  been  involved in  other proceedings in the Chancery Division and Commercial Court, concerning a split  capital investment trust  and  a professional negligence claim with a financial services context. He has appeared as an expert witness on UK financial regulation in Milan in three separate cases, and then in the Court of Appeal in Madrid. In each determined case the instructing bank was eventually successful. Two further expert witness assignments in Canada are now pending.

Current

  • Bencher, Middle Temple 1995 – Date
  • Queen’s Counsel (honoris causa) 1996

Past

  • Member, Competition Appeal Tribunal 2000 – 2016
  • Master Treasurer, Middle Temple, for 2008
  • Treasurer, General Council of the Bar 1995 – 1998
  • Chairman, Professional Standards Committee of the General Council  of the Bar 1994
  • Elected Member, General Council of the Bar 1988 – 1998
  • Member, General Management Committee of the General Council of the Bar 1989,1991 – 1998
  • Member, Commercial Court Committee 1993 – 2000
  • Member of the Financial Services and Markets Tribunal Users’ Committee 2004 – 2009
  • Chairman, Bar Conference 1993
  • Member, Council  of Legal Education 1992 – 1997
  • Chairman, Bar  Association for Commerce, Finance and  Industry 1990 – 1991; (Vice-President 1994 – Date)

Other Appointments

  • Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel of the London  Metal Exchange 2017 – Date
  • Chairman, Legal Advisory Council, Astana International Financial Centre, Kazakhstan 2017 – Date

Past appointments

  • Board Member, Dubai Financial Services Authority 2003 – 13
  • Member of the Dubai Financial Services Authority Legislative Committee 2002 – 2021 (Chairman 2006-2013)
  • President, Panel of Senior Decision Makers, Guernsey Financial Services Commission 2014 – 2020
  • Director, CME  Europe Ltd  (the former  London  derivatives exchange owned  by the Chicago
  • Mercantile Exchange) 2013 – 17
  • Chairman, SWX Europe Limited (the Swiss-owned equities exchange formerly in London) 2008-9
  • Chairman, Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration 2001 – 2007
  • President, Guernsey Financial Services Tribunal 2002 – 2009
  • Chairman, Personal Investment Authority 2000 – 2002
  • Chairman, Investment Management Regulatory Organisation 2000 – 2002
  • Chairman, Securities and Futures Authority 2001 – 2002
  • Director of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme 2000 – 2005

Government Service

  • Lord Chancellor’s Department (now Ministry of Justice) 1966 – 1987
  • Under Secretary there 1982 – 1987
  • Circuit Administrator, Midland and Oxford Circuit 1982 – 1986
  • Head  of Courts and Legal Services Group 1986 – 1987.
  • French (working knowledge)