Michael Watkins’ practice covers the broad spectrum of company and commercial work in litigation, international arbitration, expert determination and ADR. He has experience in heavy and complex, high value claims (working as part of a larger team), as well as advising and appearing in smaller cases as sole counsel, before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and various County Courts. He also has significant experience of international arbitrations under the LCIA, ICC and UNCITRAL rules.
Michael is recommended by legal directories as a leading junior in commercial litigation and the energy sector (Chambers UK and Legal 500). In 2013 he was identified by Legal Week as a “Star of the Bar”, in an article profiling highly rated juniors under ten years call. Recent directory recommendations include the following:
Chambers UK 2021 (Commercial Dispute Resolution) "A very clever lawyer who is very strategic and has incredibly good judgement." "He is an easygoing, excellent lawyer who is fully committed to his case."
Legal 500 (Commercial Litigation) 2020 "Fantastic on the law, has great judgement, deeply commercial and easy to work with. He is a star."
Legal 500 (Energy) 2020 "Careful, competent and reliable, he is a deep thinker who is strong on technical legal arguments."
Legal Week’s 2013 “Stars at the Bar” (profiling highly rated barristers under ten years call):
“A magic circle partner says he is “truly clever, incisive, drafts very well and has a natural feel for crafting witness examinations and cross examinations”, but is also “highly collaborative and user-friendly”. Another praises his “willingness to work closely with instructing solicitors as part of a combined team”.
“One silk says Watkins “has great judgment beyond his years, incredible perseverance and a fluid clear writing style”. He is not easily fazed, either, handling “difficult and at times pressured cases”, notes one lawyer, before adding that Watkins retains “a great sense of humour and fun throughout, as well as doing his ‘day job’”.
Recent cases include:
Historically, Michael has appeared and/or advised in a number of market-leading cases, including: Singulars Holdings Ltd v. Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Ltd  UKSC 50 (Supreme Court proceedings about the attribution of fraud to a one man company); The Dow Chemical Co v. Petrochemical Industries Co KSC  EWHC 2739 (Comm) (major ICC arbitration proceedings arising out of a USD multi- billion JV between two petrochemical companies and in the subsequent s68 challenge before the Commercial Court); Re: Klöckner Pentaplast Group (a market-leading (€1.2 billion) restructuring in which a consortium of junior lenders successfully implemented a restructuring in the face of opposition from senior lenders); Price Review Arbitrations (for an international energy major in parallel USD billion price review arbitrations); and London Underground Ltd v. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer & Anr (for D1, in (ultimately settled) professional negligence proceedings arising out of the public private partnership for the London Underground).
Michael has taught a variety of private and commercial law courses alongside his full-time practice, including: the Law of Contract at King’s College London (2008-9); Restitution of Unjust Enrichment (BCL) at Oxford University (2011-2014); Commercial Law at University College London (2014-2015); and The Law of Unjust Enrichment at UCL (2015-2018). He is a contributor to the Journal of International Banking & Financial Law.
Mike speaks reasonably fluent French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.