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Mike Pemberton



Mike is a Partner and manages the Human Rights & Public Law team at the firm. 
The team deal with public law challenges via judicial review arising from education, community care, prison law, inquests and human rights.

The team also act for clients involved in Court of Protection proceedings, actions against public bodies, disclosure and barring disputes and police complaints.

Mike joined Stephensons in 1998 completing a training contract with the firm between 1999-2001 and qualifying as a solicitor in September 2001. 

He became an associate in 2003 and partner in 2011.
He is able to advise on a number of areas involving public law including education, human rights and representing families in inquests where the state may have some responsibility for the deceased’s death 

Mike also has a niche practice concerning criminal record disclosure disputes and representations against barring  (CRB, ISA or disclosure and barring service issues). He has been involved in high profile cases which have considered the right to privacy against the need to protect the public by making disclosure and the relevance of proposed disclosure to the reason it is being made.

He has extensive experience advising and representing life or indeterminate sentence prisoners and continues to supervise this area of law which is undertaken by the team.

The team also have a fairly unique specialism in de-registration applications under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as amended and provide clear concise advice on feasibility.
He has been involved in a number of high profile cases and was a finalist in the Manchester Legal Awards 2013 for legal aid lawyer of the year. Mike’s appearances on BBC Breakfast and News channel in relation to some of these cases can be seen here:
Lorraine Allen - Wrongly Jailed Mother's Compensation Fight

'Common Sense Needed Over Criminal Records'

Drop minor convictions from criminal record checks

Mike is a member of the INQUEST Lawyers Group and Association of Prison Lawyers.

He has been featured as a Times Lawyer of the week and Law Society Gazette Lawyer in the news on two occasions.

He has been listed in Chambers and Partners guide to the Legal Profession since 2009 being named a leader in the field in 2018. 

He was recognised as a leading individual by The Legal 500 in 2023 where he was noted for managing "the civil liberties and public law unit, dealing with cases involving public law or human rights issues.". He was also named a key lawyer in this area in the 2024 edition.

Areas of specialism

  • Public Law
  • Judicial Review
  • Human Rights
  • Inquests
  • Disclosure and Barring disputes
  • Prisoners Rights
  • Education Law

Key cases

CICA v Vincent Hutton and others [2016] EWCA 1305

AR v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2016] EWCA 490

R (on the application of P & A) v Secretary of State for Justice and others [2016] EWHC 89 (Admin)

R (on the application of Ryder) v Lord Chancellor [2015] EWHC 1857 (Admin)

T & Another v Secretary of State for the Home Department and another [2014] UKSC 35 

R (on the application of T) v Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police & Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWCA Civ 25 
Allen v UK [2013] ECHR 678  

Lee v UK [2012] ECHR 1706 
R (on the application of T) v Chief Constable Greater Manchester Police & Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 147 (Admin) 
R (on the application of F (by his litigation friend F)) and Thompson (FC) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Appellant) [2010] UKSC 17
The Stirland Inquest [2010] 
R (on the application of JF) –v- Secretary of State for Justice [2009] EWCA Civ 792
R (on the application of Lee) –v- Secretary of State for Justice [2009] UKHL 22
R (on the application of Wilkinson) –v- Secretary of State for Justice [2009] EWHC 
The Queen on the application of Jeffery Lee and Nicholas Wells -v- Secretary of State for Justice
R (Allen, formerly Harris) -v- Secretary of State for Justice

R (on the application of Brooke & Ors) -v- The Parole Board & Anor [2008] EWCA Civ 29 
The Queen (ota Michael Brooke, Gagik Ter-Ogannisyan, David O'Connell and Michael Murphy) -v- The Parole Board and Secretary of State for the Home Department (2007) EWHC 2036, 2037, 2038. (Admin)
R -v- Caines [2006] EWCA Crim 2915
R (on the application of Spinks) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
R (on the application of AT) -v- National Probation Service
R (on the application of Cole, Hawkes & Rowland) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department
R (on the application of McFetrich) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department


"The ‘skilled and dedicated’ Mike Pemberton manages the civil liberties and public law department" - Legal 500 2018

Mike Pemberton's good humour and the mastery of the detail of their cases immediately puts clients at ease.
(UK Legal 500, 2017)

Michael Pemberton of Stephensons frequently brings judicial reviews relating to prisons and parole, and his standard of client care sets him apart from many competitors.                
(Chamber and Partners 2010 Administrative and Public Law)
Mike Pemberton of Stephensons is "an outstanding practitioner who pushes the boundaries of the law through complete command of his material and diligence in promoting his clients' interests." ...
(Chambers and Partners 2011 Administrative and Public Law: Traditional Claimant)
Observers are full of praise for Michael Pemberton, Sources say: "He is very down to earth and 100% honest. He always goes the extra mile for his clients without losing objectivity."
(Chambers and Partners 2011)
Mike Pemberton of Manchester-based Stephensons has a national reputation for his success in acting …in human rights challenges.           
(Chambers and Partners 2011 Civil Liberties: Prison Law)
Michael Pemberton manages Stephensons prison law team. He is greatly experienced in prison law, human rights matters and judicial review.
(Chambers and Partners 2012 Civil Liberties: Prison Law)
Michael Pemberton is based at the Wigan branch. He is the lead solicitor for prison and public law matters … Interviewees commend his commitment to the client's cause, saying that "he will go that extra mile."
(Chambers and Partners 2012 Crime)
Michael Pemberton of Stephensons specialises in prison law and community care, and helps individuals to challenge unlawful actions of the state.
(Chambers and Partners 2013 Civil Liberties & Human Rights)

Michael Pemberton of Stephensons represents clients in prison law cases up to the ECHR. Market sources report: "He is a very effective operator, great with clients and has a great sense of humour." His expertise extends to inquests, community care, Court of Protection and education matters. (Chambers and Partners 2016)

Michael Pemberton of Stephensons demonstrates a practice focus in the field of education, including discrimination, admissions and service provision matters, as well as barring and criminal disclosure. He also provides counsel for prisoners serving life or indeterminate sentences.
(Chambers and Partners 2017)

"Nothing can prepare you for the shock upon receiving a Minded to Bar letter from the DBS. You feel hopelessly isolated and exposed with monsters growing and feeding on the stress within. So it was for me: but I was determined to right the wrong I was subjected to. I was recommended to contact Stephensons which I did, and I am so glad I made contact, initially with the excellent Natalie Tollett, who set in train an initial phone call with Mike Pemberton. Without Mike's professional guidance, I would not have had the wherewithal to respond to the DBS effectively. Mike was outstanding in every respect and my wife and I cannot thank him enough. The DBS decided to take no action." - View fom a satisfied client

"Professional and personable approach, this made me feel confident. I was given guidance that was easy to understand and was very impressed with Mike who helped me focus during a difficult situation. In one word - outstanding!!!" - View from a satisfied client

Mike Pemberton is Head of Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties at Stephensons. He deals with all aspects of the law in relation to discrimination, education, community care, actions against public bodies, police complaints, prison law and inquests. He is an expert in the law relating to human rights, particularly regarding discrimination.

As such, Mike deals with a high number of cases, many of which are widely reported and of interest to the general public. This is particularly true when challenging unlawful decisions by local, regional or national government. 

Mike is a confident communicator and has featured on Channel 5 News, BBC Breakfast, ITV Granada Reports, BBC Radio Manchester and the BBC News Channel. He has also made comment in:

The Independent - Is National Offer Day for primary schools still taking place and can you make an admission appeal?

Mail Online - 'I feel I've failed my son': Parents tell of despair as one-in-five children across UK miss out on first-choice of secondary school after allocations are announced

The Times - How school uniforms became the new legal battleground

The Guardian - Court allows police to reveal acquittals during record checks

The Metro - Theresa May orders full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower disaster

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