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.
Professional Offices & Duties
- Bencher, Middle Temple 1995 – Date
- Queen’s Counsel (honoris causa) 1996
- 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)
- Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel of the London Metal Exchange 2017 – Date
- Chairman, Legal Advisory Council, Astana International Financial Centre, Kazakhstan 2017 – Date
- 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
- 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)