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Melanie Carter

Work 020 7551 7610
Bates Wells Braithwaite

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 Braithwaite

Within: Professional discipline

Bates Wells Braithwaite 'provides excellent response terms and is one of the best in terms of acumen and knowledge'. The multi-disciplinary team covers the  breadth of the professional disciplines, including accountancy and health and social care. It is also retained as the sole legal adviser to The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Compliance Officer, which disciplines MPs for abuses of the expenses system; and it recently acted for the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC), the body that regulates barristers, in an application for an injunction brought by a barrister against COIC, seeking to prevent it from disbarring him from the profession. Former deputy registrar of the General Optical Council, Melanie Carter 'has a superb practice and often acts as a legal assessor for various regulators'; and for over 15 years has sat as a legal assessor for The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Emma Dowden-Teale was promoted to the partnership and a significant proportion of her practice relates to the regulation of professionals in the healthcare and education sectors; consultant John Trotter is a former partner of the firm who acts on behalf of accountancy bodies; and promoted to senior associate in 2017 Claire Whittle, is 'a rising star who is extremely bright, hardworking, thorough and a brilliant drafter'.

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London: Public sector

Administrative and public law

Within: Leading individuals

Melanie Carter - Bates Wells Braithwaite

Within: Administrative and public law

Clients find that 'the level of service is excellent' at Bates Wells Braithwaite. The team takes on a broad range of work including inquiries and the safeguarding of vulnerable groups and acts for both public bodies and claimants. The well-regarded team head Melanie Carter  advises the National Audit office on its audits of local government and NHS bodies and other day-to-day matters. Most recently she advised on the Advisory Notice issued by KPMG (for whom it also acts) on the bankrupt Northants Council. In other work it acted for Airport Coordination following the collapse of Monarch Airlines which included defending a judicial review and involved issues of interpretation of two EU Regulations. Both Carter and Jessica Collings are considered to be 'creative, hardworking and imaginative.' Rupert Earle is noted as 'an outstanding advertising and regulatory law practitioner who is flexible, dependable and has a good team to back him up.' Emma Dowden-Teale , who has been promoted to partner and Claire Whittle  are both noted practitioners.

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Within: Electoral

‚ÄėOne of the best election law firms‚Äô, Bates Wells Braithwaite¬†has an outstanding track record advising on elections, referendums and parliamentary affairs with experts in constitutional, commercial and media law being able to advise across the political spectrum. It continues to advise the Cabinet Office and Lord Hodgson on the Independent Statutory Review into the regulation of non-party campaigning in respect of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as amended by the controversial Lobbying Act. It also continues to provide a range of advice to 38 Degrees on its campaigning activity. Other clients include Britain Stronger in Europe, the Green Party, the National Union of Students and the Trade Union Congress. Simon Steeden¬†and Rosamund McCarthy¬†co-head the team and Melanie Carter¬†and Jessica Collings¬†are key team members who ‚Äėare both excellent solicitors - creative, hardworking and imaginative.‚Äô

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Local government

Within: Local government

Offering an 'excellent level of service' Bates Wells Braithwaite combines public law specialists with those with regulatory, procurement, state aid, employment and property expertise. Led by the highly respected Melanie Carter the local government audit team is retained by the National Audit Office advising on areas such as local authority financing issue. The team was appointed by Canterbury City Council on the spin out of the Marlowe Theatre to a charity, the Marlowe Trust. It is also advising Wirral Borough Council on the potential spin out of its leisure and cultural services.  Abbie Rumbold heads the public services and Mutuals function and Erica Crump and senior associate Augustus Della-Porta  are noted names.

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