Partner and Head of Public & Regulatory
Melanie, head of the Public & Regulatory Law Department, has worked for over 25 years as a public law specialist, in the public sector (Home Office, Treasury Solicitors Department, Commission for Racial Equality, General Optical Council etc.), the third sector and in the private sector.
She is ranked as a leader in public & administrative law in the legal directories (also in information law, local government, elections and professional regulation).
She is a specialist in judicial review proceedings and regularly advises a broad range of public authorities on their powers and duties, as well as acting for those seeking to challenge the decisions of public authorities. She has a particular interest in public law as a tool for the third sector.
Her experience is based on Government legal service work for many years and in-house in other public authorities. Melanie works for a range of regulators for their public law, judicial review and information law work. Current and recent examples include advising the Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the Single Source Regulations Office, the former Audit Commission, the General Dental Council, the General Optical Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (for whom she also sits as a legal assessor).
She is renowned as the national lead on public sector audit work for local government and NHS Trusts (she is retained by the National Audit Office and Wales Audit Offices and most of the large accountancy firms undertaking public sector audit). This work has included over the last 20 years, the most high profile audit investigations into corporate governance matters going all the way back to Westminster City Council's recovery of the surcharge against Dame Shirley Porter in the “Homes for Votes Affair”.
Melanie is a specialist in legislative drafting and parliamentary process. Her expertise was learned in Government and is now provided to regulators responsible for their own legislation, foreign states and those seeking to draft opposition amendments. Examples of recent work have included the Prison and Parole Act in the Maldives, the Recall of MPs Bill for a backbench MP, statutory instruments achieving the transfer of public powers to a national charity and CPD rules for the General Optical Council.
An expert in information law and a Tribunal Judge in the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights), she has advised many authorities in relation to freedom of information and data subject requests.
Melanie also sits as an international adjudicator for the Marine Stewardship Council.
Finally, she is a specialist in election law and has advised political parties and campaigners in recent general elections, referenda and in relation to lobbying.
Examples of recent work
- Advice to successor bodies including the National Audit Office (formerly retained by the Audit Commission)
- Retained by Single Source Regulations Office
- Judicial review in relation to a challenge to a local authority rights of way policy (she is retained to conduct all of the Ramblers' campaigning litigation)
- Advising broad coalition of third sector bodies in relation to anti-lobbying
- Representation in relation to Goddard Inquiry
- Conduct of the first ever Tribunal challenge to a decision of the Compliance Officer of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
- Judicial review against the Electoral Commission
- Defending political party against potential electoral proceedings
- Advising a social enterprise being statutorily incorporated and its classification under public bodies rules
- Drafting the Recall of MPs Bill for Zac Goldsmith MP
- Adjudication in relation to the first cod fishery in Newfoundland to be certified sustainable since the collapse of the cod stocks
Qualifications and career
- Cambridge University, BA, 1983
- Called to the Bar in 1984
- Admitted as a solicitor in 1998
- Solicitor at public law groups of Bindman & Partners and Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP
- Partner at Bates Wells Braithwaite
- Head of Public & Regulatory since 2011
Pro bono, memberships and appointments
- Tribunal Judge, First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights)
- Independent adjudicator, Marine Stewardship Council
- Formerly Tribunal Judge, First-tier Tribunal (Standards)
- Formerly a magistrate
- Member of Administrative Law Bar Association, Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers Association
- Trustee of Public Law Project
- A founding member of Public Law Solicitors group