Michael joined the Bar in 1980, having read physics at Imperial College before becoming a lawyer. He was made a member of the Queen’s Counsel in 1996 and has worked extensively in IP law, known for a number of high profile IT disputes including the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Michael has advised the Government on IP matters and joined Nominet as a DRS Expert in 2008.
Why did you specialise in IP law?
Quite a few of the DRS Experts are IP lawyers. I like it better than other fields because it requires solutions to ongoing problems. I like solving problems. If there isn’t a solution, the challenge is to find a way around it!
Why did you join Nominet as a DRS expert?
I saw an advertisement for new DRS Experts. I knew I didn’t want to be a judge, but I thought that being a decision maker might improve my abilities as an advisor in my professional work.
How has the experience been so far?
I’ve met some really interesting people. Not all of us are lawyers – we have a mathematician and an engineer, and they are brilliant decision makers. We don’t get very many cases; usually about half a dozen a year, and I am always pleased when one appears in my inbox.
What have been some of the challenges of the position?
I’ve found that making decisions is quite different from my job when I am working within the parameters of my clients – and some of my decisions have been controversial. The really difficult cases are the ones in which you are not sure if you have all the relevant information to decide whether people are telling the truth. One case that springs to mind was the dispute over chiesi.co.uk. The complainant said that the registrant was lying but there simply wasn’t the evidence to support that; the quality of the evidence is vital to making the decision.
What changes have you seen over the years with Nominet DRS?
One of the really good things is that the experts are very communicative and we have a lot of interaction, meeting every year for the experts’ annual review. That has led to the creation of the expert overview which is a very useful tool for all DRS users. I think this is why the quality and consistency of DRS decision making has improved over the years, which is really positive.
You’ve been involved in some high profile brand cases outside Nominet – what was that experience like?
I have certainly experienced trolling, which was unpleasant. When I was working on the NewsCorp phone hacking case there were some very nasty things written about me and it really bothered my teenage daughters. It didn’t bother me. When you act in a case like that, abuse comes with the territory. Things like that would never stop me taking on a case.
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