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Mike Schwarz

Mike Schwarz - Bindmans LLP

Mike Schwarz


Tel: +44 (0)20 7833 4433

Email: m.schwarz@bindmans.com

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Mike defends those facing the most serious and complex offences - such as murder, fraud, money laundering and multi-party criminal proceedings.

He is experienced in cases with an international or European element - including extradition and fair trial.

Mike is particularly concerned with principles of fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights, and miscarriages of justice, especially fresh evidence appeals.
He acts for political activists and campaigners on issues such as the environment, animal rights, peace/disarmament, race and social justice.

He has a particular interest in citizens’ freedom of expression and freedom of assembly under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

He has experience of wider issues surrounding criminal cases - such as inquests, police complaints, private prosecutions and inquiries.

Mike’s practice covers all parts of the country and all levels of the criminal justice system – from mass arrests at the police station and summary trials at the magistrates courts to the House of Lords / Supreme Court (as well as the European Court of Human Rights).

He advises and trains campaign groups, trade unions and non-governmental organisations on criminal and public order law.

Mike has a law degree from Oxford University and a post-graduate Diploma of Advanced European Legal Studies, from College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium.
After completing his training at Bindmans in 1992, he stayed on, becoming a partner in 1995 and has remained at Bindmans since.

Outside Bindmans, Mike has worked also as a visiting university lecturer; at the European Commission of the EU; an adviser to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service; a member of the Law Society EU law committee.

He is a trustee or equivalent of a number of campaigning organisations and charities.

Mike is joint author of 'The Law of Public Order and Protest' (Oxford University Press, March 2010).

  • Represented ‘RW’ in the first prosecution for bribery by the Serious Fraud Office.  Client also prosecuted for conspiracy to furnish false information.   Client was acquitted in 2014 on all charges after a two month multi-defendant trial at Southwark Crown Court.  ‘RW’, a qualified accountant, was the only defendant to be cleared.  His co-accused received between 6 and 13 years’ imprisonment.
  • Defence of political activists on a range of issues.   For example, he acted for over 100 UK Uncut campaigners arrested in Fortnum & Mason in March 2011, successfully persuading the prosecution to discontinue most of the prosecutions, securing the acquittal of the majority of those who stood trial and instrumental in changing CPS policy on prosecuting protesters generally.  He successfully acted for Pritchard and Olditch, who sought to immobilise bombers at the beginning of the Iraq War, in proceedings in the House of Lords and then at Bristol Crown Court in which they put forward a defence that they were trying to prevent war crimes contrary to international law.   Similarly, he successfully acted for Osmond and others, who damaged weapons factory (EDO) during one of Israel’s offensives in Gaza strip, again arguing that the defendants were preventing crimes.   He acts for animal rights campaigners – such as the successful defence of animal rights campaigners prosecuted at Birmingham Crown Court in connection with the protests about Sequani animal research organisation; and, separately, the defence at Winchester Crown Court of campaigners connected with ‘SHAC’ opposed to Huntingdon Life Sciences.
  • Particular history, since the 1990s and Twyford Down, M11 and Newbury by-pass road developments, of defending environmental protestors against charges such as conspiracy, criminal damage, theft and public nuisance brought in connection with campaigns against genetically-modified crops, incinerators, coal fired power stations' contribution to climate change.  Arguments based on protection of the environment have led to multiple acquittals around the country – eg R v Ridout & Charvet Worcester Crown Court; R v Sheedy & Snook Plymouth Crown Court;  R v Peter Melchett & 27 others Norwich Crown Court; R v Ayliffe & others Cardiff Crown Court; R v Hewetson & others Wood Green Crown Court; R v  Drake & others Maidstone Crown Court.
  • Represented the family of Michael Menson, the black musician murdered by racists in north London, in inquest, successful criminal prosecution, police complaint and application to the European Court of Human Rights.  
  • He has been at the forefront, since 2011, in exposing malpractice in the deployment of undercover police officers and accompanying breaches of disclosure rules by the Crown Prosecution Service.  He secured the discontinuance of proceedings on the eve of trial against R v Pawling and 5 others at Nottingham Crown Court and the quashing of the convictions of R v Barkshire, Bauer and 24 others at the Court of Appeal – both cases arising out of the planned occupation, by climate change activists of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, near Nottingham.  He secured the quashing by the Court of Appeal of the convictions of 29 other environmental activists (‘the DRAX 29’, R v Bard and others) who had halted a train, unloaded coal and blocked a railway line feeding a coal fired power station.   He secured, for John Jordan, the referral by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and successful appeal at Southwark Crown Court, of his 1990’s convictions on the basis of the wrongful involvement of an undercover police officer in the demonstration and criminal proceedings Jordan was involved in. 
  • Mike initiated a successful private prosecution on behalf of Animal Defenders against Chipperfield Circus for animal cruelty.
  • His interest in freedom of expression has led him to give seminars on those parts of the criminal law and police powers which affect the media and to represent journalists reporting on events or artists and performers in conflict with the criminal law. 
  • Mike successfully defended Dwayne Vincent (aka 'Megaman' from the band ‘So Solid Crew’) against allegations of murder after 3 trials at the Old Bailey.
  • Mike, with colleagues in the criminal department, has represented large numbers of protesters arrested during most of the principal mass demonstrations over the past 20 years – from the Poll Tax demonstrations in the late 80s, to student, cuts and union protests since the financial crash in 2007/8.
  • Awarded Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year 2014 in the Criminal defence category.
  • Mike Schwarz won the 2011 Law Society Excellence Award in private practice.  His citation read: “Michael Schwarz’s work has been seminal on key recent legal issues: the operation of undercover police, the Crown’s obligations of disclosure, the fairness of the trial process, the legitimacy of civil disobedience, the articulation of campaigners’ motives, threats to criminal legal aid and the integrity of the legal profession. Michael’s success is testament to his strategic insight into the marriage between the law, politics and the media.
  • He was identified in 2012 as one of the top 100 Lawyers in the Times newspaper’s Law 100. He was chosen from the nation’s 150,000 judges and lawyers. The list was compiled by a team of 12 judges whose expertise spanned politics, the judiciary, academia, the media and the law and it is a snapshot of those considered to be the most influential 100 lawyers in society.
  • He has been Lawyer in the News in the Law Society Gazette and featured Lawyer in the Times on several occasions.

Legal Directories

  • Mike Schwarz is ranked in Crime (Band 1). “Excellent” Chambers UK (2016)
  • Mike Schwarz is ranked in Crime (Band 1). “He is absolutely fantastic. He does everything that needs to be done for the client and fights tooth and nail.” Chambers UK (2016)
  • Mike Schwarz is ranked in Crime (Band 1). “He is incredibly detailed and leaves no stone unturned.” Chambers UK (2016)
  • Mike Schwarz is ranked Band 2 in Crime and Band 3 in Civil Liberties & Human Rights. "He has the trust of the protestor community" and "a strategic view of the legal landscape in respect of civil liberties and protestor cases." Chambers UK (2015)
  • Mike Schwarz is a leading individual in Crime. Mike Schwarz specialises in the defence of clients charged with offences arising from political protests and undercover policing. Legal 500 (2014)
  • Mike Schwarz “cares so much about his clients” and is “great on the law, especially protest work.” His high-profile work includes exposing and investigating the misconduct of undercover police officers infiltrating protest groups. Chambers UK (2014)
  • Mike Schwarz represented over 100 of the 140 protestors who participated in a ‘sit in’ at Fortnum & Mason in March 2011.Mike Schwarz is “consistently impressive”. Recommended in Crime and Fraud: white-collar crime. Legal 500 (2013)
  • Michael Schwarz is known for his skill in handling public protest cases. The last year has seen him defending protestors from the Fortnum & Mason occupation and the summer riots. Sources note that "he is very good at taking a careful, reasonable line in cases with a high public profile." Chambers UK (2013)
  • Michael Schwarz is particularly well known for his public order and civil demonstration work. High-profile cases include the Ratcliffe power station matter, which involved the exposure of an undercover police officer, and sources describe his as "tenacious and relentless in a positive way." Chambers UK (2012)
  • Mike Schwarz is recommended in Legal 500 (2011). 



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