Michael Atkinson draws on his considerable experience as a criminal litigator and advocate to represent clients engaged in international and domestic criminal or regulatory investigations (or where these are anticipated) including in cases where there may be associated administrative law challenges to the actions of public bodies.

Mr. Atkinson has advised on the investigation, prosecution and defense of a very wide range of criminal offences and has regularly appeared as a trial advocate, and in appellate matters. He also has experience working on civil litigation matters, alone and as part of multi-disciplinary teams where there are connected criminal investigations.

He has recently written and spoken about developments in UK anti-corruption, financial regulation and compliance practices, and has provided training to clients in the UK and US on the European and UK aspects of compliance and enforcement in business crime, export controls and international sanctions.

Mr. Atkinson frequently collaborates with colleagues in the Corporate and Life Sciences & Healthcare Regulatory practice groups to advise clients on risks and responsibilities regarding business crime, in particular money laundering and making necessary disclosures.

Prior to joining Arnold & Porter, Mr. Atkinson practised as an independent barrister and then as a Crown Advocate and Specialist Prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). He has been called upon to advise government departments on the development of legislation and policy, and has spoken at international events on legal issues regarding electronic communication, covert evidence-gathering, surveillance and counter-terrorism.

Mr. Atkinson maintains a busy pro-bono practice, focusing his time on assisting underrepresented groups. He has dealt with cases assisting non-governmental organizations in challenging international human rights abuses, refugee resettlement matters before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and domestic matters concerning vulnerable clients with notable recent successes.


  • News UK as part of the team instructed as lead criminal advisers in respect of criminal and associated litigation concerning allegations of telephone voicemail interception and corruption of public officials.
  • GlaxoSmithKline as part of the team instructed as lead criminal advisers in respect of the company's investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
  • Multinational pharmaceutical company in relation to criminal proceedings against its directors arising from failure to comply with Companies Act requirements.
  • Investment company conducting an investigation following its receipt of whistleblower allegations, including advising on a linked anti-retaliation claim brought by the whistleblower.
  • Individual executives linked to an investigation being conducted in the US and UK into a multinational investment bank’s alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar fraud, including advice on the subsequent UK regulatory investigation.
  • Individuals involved as either suspects or witnesses in a number of high-profile SFO investigations including Tesco, Rolls Royce, Unaoil and ENRC.
  • Individual businessman whose extradition to France was sought in respect of  economic crimes.
  • Companies on their responsibilities in providing information to law enforcement agencies investigating their employees, as well as their responsibilities for notifying suspicious activities under the Terrorism Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act.
  • Multinational companies in various sectors, including defense, energy, high-value goods, humanitarian and pharmaceutical, on the interaction of their businesses with the UK and EU sanctions regimes, and developing adequate compliance policies and procedures.
  • UK and multinational companies engaged in cannabis-related business on the impact of the Misuse of Drugs Act and Proceeds of Crime Act on their activities.


  • BVC, Inns of Court School of Law, 2003
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies, University of East Anglia, 2002
  • BA (Hons), History, University of East Anglia, 2001
  • England and Wales
Government & Military Service
  • Crown Advocate/Specialist Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division
  • Member, Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers
  • Member, Criminal Bar Association
  • Member, Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Panel Member, Advocate (the Bar Pro Bono Unit)

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