The Legal 500

Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon
Living Wage
Work 020 7551 7777
Fax 020 7551 7800

Melanie Carter

Work 020 7551 7610
Bates Wells

Work Department

Public and regulatory law; information Law.


Head of public and regulatory department. Melanie has been a specialist in public law, judicial review and information law for over 25 years. She is particularly well known for her work with external auditors to local government and NHS trusts, including the high-profile investigations into corporate governance matters at Westminster City Council (‘Homes for Votes’), Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council. She was, until its recent abolition, retained by the Audit Commission as its principle legal advisor. She acts now for the successor bodies, the National Audit Office and Public Service Audit Appointments Ltd and also the lead body in Wales, the Wales Audit Office. She regularly acts for the big accountancy firms conducting external audits for local authorities (including Grant Thornton, KPMG, etc).  

She advises a range of regulatory bodies and NDPBs, including the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Compliance Officer, the Single Source Regulations Office, the British Council, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). She sits as a legal assessor for the ICAEW and has sat as such for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Accountancy & Actuarial Investigation and Discipline Board.  Melanie has a broad practice in professional regulation, for instance work for the Insolvency Practitioners Association and various psychoanalytical and other health related professional bodies.

Melanie regularly acts for national third sector bodies and is retained to conduct all of the Ramblers’ litigation (judicial review and statutory appeals).  She advises on inquiries and has been retained by a range of entities in relation to the Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry and more recently, the Grenfell Inquiry.   

Melanie has significant experience in drafting both primary and secondary legislation – most recently in relation to the Recall of MPs Bill. This spanned her time in government and, more recently, she has drafted rules and regulations for a variety of professional regulatory bodies.

She works internationally, most recently for the Ministry of Legal Affairs for the government of Guyana. She is an international Independent Adjudicator for the Marine Stewardship Council (one of three globally), including recent cases on the dispute over the sustainability of fishing cod in Canada and New Zealand tuna.

Melanie has developed particular expertise in information law, and has been  a Tribunal Judge in the First-tier Tribunal (information rights) since just after the inception of this jurisdiction. She has advised many authorities and private companies in relation to  GDPR, data subject access requests and data breaches. She devised online data protection training for the staff at KPMG UK LLP.  She has a particular speciality in the Freedom of Information Act.


Trained as a barrister; tenant 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square 1988; partner Bates Wells Braithwaite 2010 to date. Melanie started her working life as a barrister in the late 1980s, before working in-house for the UK government for ten years (Home Office, Treasury Solicitors Department, etc). She transferred to the private sector to work for the public law department of Mayer Brown in 1997. Since then, she has worked as a public law specialist for Bindman & Partners and DMH Stallard, where she was made partner in 2006.


Public Law Solicitors Association (founding member); Administrative Law Bar Association; Human Rights Lawyers Association; Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers.


Peter Symonds Sixth Form College, Winchester; Downing College, Cambridge (1980-84 BA law 2:1).


Keen mountaineer and piano player (but not at the same time).

London: Dispute resolution

Professional discipline

Within: Leading individuals

Melanie Carter - Bates Wells

Within: Professional discipline

At Bates Wells, 'the attention to detail is quite exceptional, yet the practice manages to work collaboratively and pleasantly'. It recently hired Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP's former professional discipline team, including partners Nicole Curtis and Geoffrey Hudson (now consultant), as well as consultant Katrina Wingfield and associate Neil Wilks. Curtis and Wilks recently represented Farriers Registration Council in disciplinary proceedings, including in relation to animal cruelty. The professional discipline practice has particular strength in acting for representative bodies that have professional discipline functions, as well as statutory regulators, and it covers the health and social care, accountancy, veterinary and equine-related professions. Melanie Carter is a former GOC deputy registrar; also key to the group are Emma Dowden-Teale and senior associate Claire Whittle.

[back to top]

London: Public sector

Administrative and public law

Within: Leading individuals

Melanie Carter - Bates Wells

Within: Administrative and public law

Melanie Carter leads the rapidly growing team at Bates Wells, which has a considerable breadth of expertise across the field of administrative and public law. Of particular note is the team’s experience with public law in the third sector, with Carter and Emma Dowden-Teale advising a number of household names on statutory inquiries and engagements with the Charity Commission. The firm has an established inquiries practice, with Claire Whittle advising a number of non-departmental public bodies on their engagements with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The team often appears on both sides of judicial review challenges, and regular defence instructions are received by regulatory bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority; Rupert Earle is currently defending this client against a challenge to its ruling on misleading advertising of broadband technology. The team's extensive list of claimant work includes applications against the NHS and the British Standards Institute and other regulators in the charity, education and healthcare sectors. Notable additions to the team include a number of public law practitioners from Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, DAC Beachcroft LLP and Hogan Lovells International LLP.

[back to top]


Within: Electoral

Bates Wells is considered a 'go-to' firm for electoral and campaigning laws, and practice co-head Simon Steeden is highlighted for his all-round expertise and ability to guide clients through the legalities of running campaigns and the make up of new political groups. Rosamund McCarthy co-heads the elections, politics and campaigning team, and her work has included advising the designated lead campaign group for a remain vote in the EU referendum. Melanie Carter heads the public and regulatory group, advising on areas such as electoral law rules relating to non-party campaigning and acting for a candidate for the London mayoral elections. Associate Jessica Collings' work takes in electoral law and lobbying regulations, where she also handles contentious work, investigations and judicial reviews. The team also advises on the interface between digital campaigning and the current electoral law system.

[back to top]

Local government

Within: Local government

The team at Bates Wells is well know for its specialisms in advising local government auditors and advising in relation to mutuals. It has advised on audits in relation to over 40 local authorities, including on some high-profile cases such as the budget deficit of Northamptonshire Council. It advises public sector mutuals and spin-out organisations who are using such vehicles to provide key public services. Abbie Rumbold and Melanie Carter are the experts in these areas, together with Emma Dowden-Teale and Augustus Della-Porta, who also bring charity/social enterprise and social care expertise.

[back to top]

Back to index

Legal Developments in London

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to