Michael founded Butler & Co in 2005, and is the firm’s Principal.
He qualified as a solicitor in 1992 in London, having graduated from Warwick University and the College of Law, Chancery Lane. He was previously a partner at Claude Hornby and Cox Solicitors, London.
He has over 20 years’ worth of experience representing clients in courts and tribunals and has been a Higher Court Advocate since 2003.
He is an acknowledged expert in mental health law, and is the author of ‘A Practitioner’s Guide to Mental Health Law‘, published by Wildy, Simmonds and Hill.
Michael’s principal areas of work are:
Mental Health Law
Michael advises patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, and regularly represents such patients at applications for discharge to Mental Health Tribunals and at hospital managers’ hearings. He receives instructions to act for detained patients all over the country with a wide range of mental health conditions.
In particular, though, he has a wealth of experience as a criminal litigator and therefore has a particular expertise in relation to forensic mental health cases. Accordingly, he represents a large number of clients detained in secure units.
Michael also represents detained patients in High Court proceedings to challenge the lawfulness of decisions taken about their care and treatment by hospitals and/or local authorities.
In addition, a significant portion of Michael’s work involves advising patients and their families on how to challenge hospitals or authorities who refuse to fund certain types of treatment or care, particularly with regard to after-care responsibilities under section 117 Mental Health Act 1983.
He is an accredited member of the Law Society Mental Health Tribunal Panel and is also a member of the Mental Health Lawyers Association (MHLA).
Mental Capacity Law
Michael is frequently instructed to act on behalf of both patients and their families in proceedings at the Court of Protection. The majority of his work in this regard relates to health and welfare cases and, in particular, those involve deprivations of liberty. Michael therefore regularly acts for parties involved in proceedings brought under s21A of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
He accepts instructions on behalf of patients from paid representatives and from family members acting as litigation friends. He is also regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor.
Michael also receives instructions to act in Coroners’ Court proceedings on behalf of bereaved families, particularly those cases involving deaths in psychiatric hospitals.
Michael lectures on mental health and mental capacity law and has presented numerous courses to other lawyers on behalf of Central Law Training over the years. He prepares and presents bespoke training packages for lawyers and other mental health professionals, and also presents an approved 2-day course for all candidates wishing to join the Law Society panel of accredited mental health lawyers.
Head of Court of Protection Team
Catrin is a Senior Associate Solicitor with Butler & Co Solicitors, having joined us in 2009. She specialises in mental health law and mental capacity law and is an established practitioner within her field.
Catrin is a member of both the Law Society’s Mental Health Tribunal Panel and its Mental Capacity (Welfare) Panel. In order to attain and maintain membership of these schemes, Catrin has and continues to demonstrate a high level of knowledge, skill, experience and practice in the area of mental health and mental capacity law.
Catrin has long had an interest in representing vulnerable adults and their families and she leads our Court of Protection team.
Catrin is routinely instructed by individuals and their families, advocates and the Official Solicitor.
Catrin represented the mother in the landmark case of Somerset County Council v MK, where a young woman with autism was held unlawfully in respite care for over a year. Click here for details of the case Somerset County Council v MK.
Catrin represented a mother with a learning disability before the Court of Appeal. The case concerned an appeal on several grounds but resulted in a ruling of judicial bias. Click here for details of the case SCC v Q.
Her experience also includes:
Court of Protection
- representing people who are subject to proceedings in the Court of Protection, including their families and carers applications
- to remove and appoint attorneys and deputies for property and financial affairs and health and welfare decisions
- cases concerning medical treatment and unlawful detention
Mental Health Law
- representing patients detained under both civil sections and those detained under Part III of the Mental Health Act
- advising on nearest relative proceedings in the County Court
- criminal matters within the context of mental health
- seeking an urgent judicial review on behalf of a mental health client concerning a decision made by the Ministry of Justice
Head of Mental Health Team
Chris is an Associate Solicitor specialising in mental health law and joined Butler & Co in 2009.
He is a member of the Law Society Mental Health Tribunal Panel. He is regularly instructed by patients detained under Part II and Part III Mental Health Act 1983, and patients concerned with criminal proceedings.
He is adept at advocating for his clients, ensuring their wishes are presented clearly to the tribunal panel and ensuring that their right to a fair hearing is maintained. He places great emphasis on good case preparation, and stays in frequent contact with his clients, whether in hospital or in the community, in order to ensure that they feel properly prepared for appeal hearings.
Judicial Review of a decision by the hospital managers not to discharge a patient when criteria for detention were not met. Application made to the Royal Courts of Justice.
Challenge against lawfulness of section on basis that the patient’s section papers had been invalid, due to a failure to consult with the patient’s Nearest Relative.
His experience also includes:
- representing clients at tribunal hearings and hospital managers’ hearings
- representing clients on a number of ancillary matters which have arisen out of their detention under the Mental Health Act
- advising on judicial review proceedings
- representing clients in nearest relative displacement proceedings
- advising clients on potential claims for unlawful detention or habeas corpus
Chris works primarily in Somerset and Dorset but travels to London and further afield to maintain continuity for clients who are transferred to specialist units.
Chris is a director for Mind in Taunton and West Somerset, a mental health charity which works to support those in Somerset with their mental health needs.
Frances is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. She joined Butler & Co Solicitors in 2008.
Frances is an accredited member of the Law Society Family Law Panel and is the firm’s Practice Manager.
This involves everything from recruitment and training to property management and administration.
Court of Protection Team Solicitor
Eleanor joined Butler & Co in January 2019.
Prior to embarking on a career in law in 2013, she amassed extensive experience working with vulnerable adults and young people alongside the National Probation Service and local authorities.
She is adept at partnership-working and developing a good rapport with clients and referrers alike.
Eleanor has a degree in psychology and a particular interest in promoting vulnerable clients’ access to justice. She trained with a Somerset firm, working pre- and post-qualification on a wide range of litigious matters and building upon a strong foundation of corporate knowledge and expertise. She qualified as a solicitor in 2017.
Since her appointment at Butler & Co last year, Eleanor has represented a patient in the recently-reported case of QJ v A Local Authority in which an elderly resident of a care home was apparently objecting to his placement by a refusal to eat and drink. The case raised important questions about appropriate challenges to deprivations of liberty, the importance of capacity assessments and records as they relate to ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ advance directives, and about the roles of the litigation friend and the Court of Protection itself. The Honourable Mr Justice Hayden’s judgments in the case can be viewed here, for interest:
Eleanor’s experience also includes advising on a variety of matters, including:
- Unauthorised deprivations of liberty;
- Potential or alleged breaches of an individual’s right to a private and family life and how to safeguard against this;
- Public bodies’ statutory duties to provide care to disabled and vulnerable members of society;
- Challenges to mental capacity evidence;
- The duties conferred on attorneys, deputies and appointees in relation to a person’s health and welfare and/or their property and affairs; and
- Considering creative and appropriate ways to help improve a patient’s quality of life in circumstances they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Eleanor receives instructions from the Official Solicitor, Independent Mental Capacity Advocates, family members and patients themselves. She prides herself on dealing sensitively with cases which can be contentious and involve multiple parties, some of whom may be unrepresented.
Eleanor’s tenacious attitude, keen eye for detail and solution-focused approach complement our experienced Court of Protection team.
Mental Health Team Solicitor
Jon joined Butler & Co as a trainee solicitor in February 2015. He specialises in mental health law, and provides advice and representation to clients detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983.
Jon is now a qualified solicitor and an accredited member of the Law Society Mental Health Panel. He represents clients at Mental Health Tribunal Hearings and Hospital Managers Hearings in the South West, mainly in Devon and Cornwall.
Jon places great emphasis on developing excellent working relationships with all of his clients, and seeks to ensure that he is always available to provide timely advice on any legal matter which arises while a client is detained in hospital.
His experience includes:
- representing clients at mental health tribunal hearings
- representing clients at hospital managers’ hearings
- representing clients at Care Programme Approach Meetings
- representing clients at S117 meetings
Before joining the firm, Jon had already acquired a lot of experience in defending the rights of vulnerable clients. Jon spent four years working for the USA based Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE), a non-profit capital defence organisation, where he represented clients facing the death penalty.
Mental Health Team Legal Executive
Angela joined Butler & Co in March 2017, having previously worked in mental health law in Cornwall.
Angela achieved an honours degree in Law from the University of the West of England in 2013 and became an accredited member of the Law Society Mental Health Panel in July 2015. Since then she has represented patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act 1983 in Devon and Cornwall, as well as some further afield. She is currently representing patients in Devon, Somerset, Avon & Wiltshire.
Angela has advised on displacement proceedings, appeals to the Upper Tribunal, aftercare and judicial review of mental health trusts and local authorities. In addition to this, she has gained experience in inquests and Court of Protection proceedings.
Court of Protection Specialist Caseworker
Helen joined Butler and Co in June 2011 and has been in her role as a paralegal since 2013.
Katie joined Butler & Co in January 2016. She worked as a Paralegal supporting Catrin Blake in our Court of Protection Team before becoming a Specialist Caseworker. Katie became a Trainee Solicitor in 2019 and now manages an extensive range of cases where she receives instructions from local advocacy services, family members and the Official Solicitor.
Katie attends Court of Protection Hearings, sitting behind Counsel and is a valued member of the Court of Protection Team, liaising with clients, courts and professionals in person, over the phone and via email.
Court of Protection Specialist Caseworker
Chloe joined Butler & Co. in 2014. She gained a degree in French in 2011 and a post-graduate diploma in Philosophy in 2014, both from the University of Bristol.
Charlie joined Butler & Co in October 2018. He graduated from the University of the West of England as a bachelor of Law and is currently studying towards his masters degree.
Charlie comes from a background in criminal law and prior to joining Butler & Co was an accredited police station representative. Charlie is now a trainee solicitor specialising in mental health law. Charlie’s role encompasses client care visits and representation at hospital managers hearings. He prides himself on developing strong client relationships and providing comprehensive legal advice.
Angelo joined Butler & Co in March 2020 and is a trainee solicitor in the Court of Protection department. Angelo provides invaluable support to the team and is developing his knowledge and experience of mental capacity law.