Michael Rawlinson KC

Year of call: 1991  | Year of silk: 2009

0345 034 3444
Clerked by: Stephen Loxton, Paul Clarke
Download vCard
Add to portfolio
Download CV

Michael Rawlinson KC has a broad civil practice centred around:

  • Individual claims for catastrophic/fatal personal injury arising either from the infliction of bodily trauma or exposure to historically ingested toxins; and
  • Group actions (both arising from and wholly unrelated to personal injury); and
  • The national and international regulatory regimes standing behind carbon reporting for financial institutions; the proper creation of, accounting for, registration and trading of carbon credits.

Michael is a general editor of Sweet & Maxwell’s Asbestos: Law and Litigation. In addition, he regularly writes and provides seminars on the theoretical and practical basis of the law relating to causation.

Areas of Expertise:

  • Traumatic Infliction of Loss;
  • Disease arising from toxic or noxious exposure;
  • Group Litigation;
  • Inquests;
  • Military Claims for Personal Injury;
  • Aviation and
  • Climate and Carbon Regulatory Issues.


His introduction in this area commenced 10 years ago when he first became involved in the growth of tropical timber in Ghana undertaken by a UK registered company and is now one of the nonexecutive directors of the same.

Through this he had to understand the existing and emerging regulatory superstructure of UN political resolutions (such as the Kyoto and Paris agreements and REDD+ regime passed pursuant to the same); international treaties (such as the International Tropical Timber Agreement); EU
Regulation (ie FLEGT) and the post Brexit UK equivalents pertinent to both the growth, husbandry, harvesting and export of tropical timber and the concomitant creation of carbon credits. This has, over the years, become a more formal area of endeavour and practice such that recently he has been instrumental in securing the first known policy (worldwide) of Warranty & Indemnity insurance to accompany the sale of registered carbon credits for the benefit of the purchaser, the effect of which is to bring, for the first time, the rigour of insurance provision into the governance of the otherwise poorly regulated carbon credit market.

He provides advice in the areas of:
• Regulation of Carbon Credits howsoever arising;
• The increasing duties of reporting on financial and other institutions (eg the emerging UK
implementation of the TCFD (now) IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards/UK Green Finance Strategy) and under the European Green Deal;
• The regulation by Market Investigations undertaken by the Competition and Markets Authority of the Green Claims Code to avoid unfair competition;
• Greenwashing and related claims.


Michael is regularly instructed in litigation aimed at resolving ‘generic’ issues, the value of which stretches across very large numbers of cases with combined values exceeding beyond £100m (and in the case of Plaques and Fairchild running into £Billions).

Notable Disease Litigation cases

Fairchild v Glenhaven Funeral Services Ltd [2002] 1 WLR 1052 (HL)

(also for academic commentary see (2003) MLR (66(2), 277-284)

Cox v Transco [2006] EWCA Civ 127

Grieves v FT Everard & Sons Ltd [2008] 1 A.C. 281 (HL) (2009) MLR 72(6) (The Pleural Plaque test litigation)

Rice & Thompson v Sec. State For Trade & Industry [2007] I.C.R. 1469 (CA) then remitted back to the High Court and further reported at [2008] EWHC 3216 (QB) (Academic comment (2007) JPI Law 3, C150-152)

Bussey v Anglia Heating [2018] EWCA Civ 243

Cuthbert v Taylor Woodrow [2024] EWCA Civ 244

The majority (but by no means all) of his Inquests arise out of deaths in military service.

Notable Inquests cases

The Inquest into Olivia Perks [2023]

Olivia Perks was the youngest member of her training cohort at Sandhurst who committed suicide. It was alleged that this occurred as a result of a lack of proper psychiatric support services superimposed on a culture of heavy drinking and inappropriate sexual conduct instigated by training staff. The case swiftly settled after a well publicised 3 week inquest into her death held before the Berkshire Coroner.

The Inquest into Lichfield recruiting centre [2023]

Inquests heard in 2023 into 2 African soldiers invited to carry out training runs at the Lichfield recruiting centre died in quick succession owing to a failure to note their respective sickle cell trait which led to death by Rhabdomyolysis when both were required to run quickly over long distances. Civil litigation is ongoing.

The Nimrod Inquest

This Inquest arose out of the Nimrod XV230 crash in Afghanistan in which the Armed Forces sustained 14 deaths, the largest loss of life in a single incident, since the Falklands conflict. Michael acted for all but two of the families. Claims for consequential loss were subsequently settled

'The Snatch Land Rover Inquest'

This Inquest arose from the death of 4 service personnel (including the first female soldier to die on active service) travelling in a Snatch Land Rover in Helmand when it drove over an IED planted by the Taliban. The Coroner’s comments were the subject of the (then) Leader of the Opposition’s questions at the next day’s PMQs (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100310/debtext/1
00310-0002.htm#10031061000011) and thereafter Indeed in September 2010 the Government announced the replacement of the Snatch with press coverage highlighting the role of the Coroner in this respect.

Faulkner v MOD

The claim arose out of multiple fatality an Aircraft Commander of an AAC Lynx Mk 9A performed a controlled flight into the ground in Afghanistan on 26.04.14. I acted for the family of the Aircraft Commander who was also the non-handling pilot both at the Inquest and within the subsequent litigation which settled.

Challenger 2 Tank Explosion

He acted for the two survivors of the Challenger 2 tank explosion on the Castlemartin Ranges on 14.06.17 in which 2 other occupants died both at the Inquest and within the subsequent litigation.

Michael has extensive experience in both acting for Claimants and Defendants within Group Litigation both related and unrelated to personal injury,

Notable Group Litigation cases

UK Coal

Acting for UK Coal on the Miners’ Respiratory Disease and Vibration White Finger group claims (at the time the two largest group actions in the world)


Advising on ‘Greenwashing’ claims (both in respect of liability to cohorts, individual defendants and in respect of proceedings relating to the Competition and Markets Authority).

Grenfell Tower

Acting for 115 firefighters who suffered injury arising out of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Asbestos Exposure

Acting for 250 military personnel exposed to asbestos on military exercises abroad.

Vehicle Emissions

Bringing product liability claims involving vehicle emissions.

Product Liability

He is advising on a number of other Product Liability Claims which are at the stage of confidentiality.

Michael has for many years undertaken trauma work at the highest level of complexity and value. Given the overlap with his military loss and disease claims litigation he is very familiar with the issues arising fatal accident claims and, in particular, the interaction between active and passive capital regarding what is and is not recoverable by family members and the interaction between common law damages and AFCS payments.

Examples of his trauma work are:

  • Acting both for and against single and multiple amputees where claims are made for experimentation with osseointegration (especially challenging in upper limb cases) or experimental equipment such as LUKE arms etc;
  • Brain and spinal injury particularly in the case of young victims;
  • Significant psychiatric and neuropsychological loss;
  • Pain and FND cases

Much of his work is based around the interface between the infliction of loss and the scope of the duty of care or between personal injury and the infringement of human rights (where that injury has arguably arisen from either the positive or negative Art 2, 3 and/or 8 duties laid upon public bodies.

In all the claims below, the relationship between the common law calculation of damages with AFCS (S)GIP payments is an important and complex issue.


Notable Traumatic Injury (in both civilian and military life) cases

Grenfell Tower group claim brought on behalf of the firefighter cohort: in the case of both mixed severe psychiatric and some very serious physical injury in a cohort of 115, determining the correct causes of action against multiple Defendants in a confidential comprehensive settlement on behalf of all of the cohort.

Whiting v Keolis [2018] EWCA Civ 4

Scope of the duty of care owed to intoxicated passengers at the point of train despatch in the context of a double amputation.

Vaughan v MOD [2015] EWHC 1404 (QB)

Whether a duty of care was owed to an off-duty Marine who suffered a devastating spinal injury when diving whilst not on duty during adventurous training exercises.

C v Heathrow [2023]

Whether Heathrow had a sufficiently public body role as to attract the provisions of the HRA and the need to take steps to safeguard life under art. 2 where a fatality occurred on the apron. Settled before trial.

Sowden v Lodge [2004] EWCA Civ 1370:

The degree to which an insurer could rely on public provision provided to meet tortiously acquired injury could rely on that provision in relief of its duty to provide compensation.

Radclyffe v MOD [2009] EWCA Civ 635

Counsel for the Claimant at the trial.

He has acted in a small number of separate suicide cases following inadequate medical supervision of military personnel who had suffered psychiatric injury in service.

Significant Cases

Fairchild v Glenhaven [2002] UKHL 22: Test for causation in claims for mesothelioma

House of Lords/Supreme Court

Johnston v NEI [2007] UKHL 39: Whether pleural plaques amounted to compensatable injury?

House of Lords/Supreme Court

AXA General Insurance v The Lord Advocate [2011] UKSC 46 (Advisory Role): whether an Act of the Scottish Parliament could be challenged by reference to principles of Judicial Review or for alleged breach of Art 1 Protocol 1 of the HRA

House of Lords/Supreme Court

Lipton v BA Cityflyer [2024] – Judgment awaited: in the context of flight delay compensation, whether claims under EU Regulation 261/2004 were to be maintained under post Brexit UK legislation or were a manifestation of ‘accrued’ EU rights inherited by UK citizens at the time of the UK implementing Brexit.

House of Lords/Supreme Court

Sowden v Lodge [2004] EWCA Civ 1370: the degree to which an insurer could rely on public provision provided to meet tortiously acquired injury could rely on that provision in relief of its duty to provide compensation.

Court of Appeal

Hazel v Whitlam [2004] EWCA Civ 1600: whether an insurer was entitled to void a policy of motor insurance for failure by driver to declare he was a professional golfer

Court of Appeal

Cox v Transco [2006] EWCA Civ 127: the permissibility of reliance on inference in cases of historic asbestos exposure

Court of Appeal

Rice v Sec State Business & Enterprise [2007] EWCA Civ 289: Whether the National Dock Labour Board was responsible for exposures to casual dockworkers in individual ship’s holds

Court of Appeal

Whiting v Keolis [2018] EWCA Civ 4: Extent of the duty owed to intoxicated passengers run over by a train

Court of Appeal

Bussey v Anglie [2018] EWCA Civ 243: Extent of the duty owed to those exposed to asbestos post 1965

Court of Appeal


Cuthbert v Taylor Woodrow [2024] EWCA Civ 244: Extent of the duty owed to those exposed to asbestos pre 1965 and the physical triggers for the creation of a foreseeable risk.

Court of Appeal

"He provides excellent client care and is able to deal with the most sensitive of cases. Michael is a thorough professional who gets results."

Chambers UK 2024

"Michael is very thorough. He has this encyclopaedic knowledge of previous cases - he is so on top of case law."

Chambers UK 2024

"Michael continues to be a force of nature. His passion and enthusiasm for fighting for clients is second to none. His knowledge is beyond exceptional."

Chambers UK 2024

"He is a very knowledgeable and a tenacious operator."

Chambers UK 2024


Chambers UK 2023:

“Mike is exceptionally talented. He is fantastic with clients and his analysis of claims is second to none.”

“Michael knows everything there is to know. He is good with clients and is able to explain issues clearly, without leaving any doubts.”

Legal 500 2023:

“Michael is fantastic at putting clients at ease and explaining the most difficult legal concepts in easily understood language. He is a tenacious litigator with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. A safe pair of hands to tackle the most difficult cases and winning over the most challenging clients.”

“Michael has an excellent grasp of the issues. He is able to view the litigation in the round and to understand the wider issues so as to advise on tactical steps that are not immediately obvious. He is very down to earth and easy to talk to, which makes the barrister/solicitor relationship enjoyable and progressive.”

Chambers UK 2022: “A leading asbestos silk who pushes boundaries.” “A very strong advocate who is good in cross-examinations.”

Legal 500 2022: “Michael is fantastic at putting clients at ease and explaining the most difficult legal concepts in easily understood language. He is a tenacious litigator with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. A safe pair of hands to tackle the most difficult cases and winning over the most challenging clients.”

“Mike is an intellectual heavyweight with an encyclopaedic brain. Though he is pre-eminent in occupational disease and MoD work, Mike is competent in all areas of PI. He is an extremely able advocate who is adept at handling curveballs which invariably are thrown in the heat of litigation. Mike is always prepared to fight the good fight and to take on difficult cases. He is amongst the best silks around yet retains that human edge that some lack and is therefore able to put clients at their ease.”

Chambers UK 2021: “An astute silk, he has a good manner with clients and an encyclopedic legal brain. He is very tactical and a great advocate.” “He is very reassuring and inspires confidence in his clients.”

Chambers UK 2021: “He has immense energy and is loved by his clients.” “Brilliant – he’s like an encyclopedia in terms of what he knows about this area of law.”

Legal 500 2021: “There are a handful of silks with his expertise in military claims and he is respected by both claimant and defendant lawyers. He fights hard for his clients and his solicitors. He has a very human touch and can speak to any client at their level, which makes every difference in sensitive claims involving loss, injury and death. He is also fearless with his opponents and very effective at negotiations; he balances charm and menace expertly.”

“He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. Exceptional client handling skills. Extremely responsive. Exceptional team leader, adept at utilising the strengths of each member of the team.”

Legal 500 2020: “An excellent advocate who works well with clients.”

Legal 500 2020: “A fantastic legal mind who can adopt a novel approach to problems.”

Chambers UK 2020: “He always impresses with his preparedness to undertake difficult cases and go the extra mile for clients. His encyclopaedic knowledge of case law is incredible and he is without doubt one of the best advocates around.” “He has great tactical awareness and excellent commercial common sense.”

Chambers UK 2020: “He’s at the forefront of claimant mesothelioma work – he’s inventive and is always looking for the angle to push issues on.” “He works extremely hard and has a good eye for detail.”

Chambers UK 2018: “A very well-prepared and hard-working advocate who gives practical and clear advice to clients.” “Absolutely excellent. He’s effective on his feet and client-friendly.” “He is extremely experienced and tenacious.”

Legal 500 2018: ‘He has the encyclopaedic legal knowledge and excellent client rapport.’ ‘He combines encyclopaedic legal knowledge with excellent client rapport.’

Chambers UK 2017: “A very well-prepared and hard-working advocate who gives practical and clear advice to clients.” “He’s like a legal encyclopaedia; his knowledge of case law is incredible.” “He provides useful analysis which brings a unique perspective. He’s the standout silk for a difficult case against the MOD.”

Legal 500 2017: ‘One of the leading authorities on asbestos litigation, who is tenacious and committed.’

  • University:
    • Manchester
    • LLB (2:1) (Harry Street Tort Prize, Lawson Prize and Dauntsey Scholarship) 1991
  • Degree:
    • Inner Temple (Major scholarship)
  • Panels:
    • Junior Counsel to the Crown (Provincial Panel) (2003 – 2007; 2007 – 2009

  • Northern Circuit Medical Law Association
  • PIBA
  • Northern and North Eastern Circuits

Portfolio Builder

Select the expertise that you would like to download or add to the portfolio

Download    Add to portfolio   
Title Type CV Email

Remove All


Click here to share this shortlist.
(It will expire after 30 days.)