Sir Michael Wood KCMG > Twenty Essex > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Twenty Essex
Twenty Essex

Work Department

  • English foreign relations law
  • International human rights law and the laws of war
  • International law on the use of force
  • International law of the sea, including maritime delimitation
  • Public international law
  • UN law


Sir Michael is a member of the United Nations (UN) International Law Commission. He was the principal Legal Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) between 1999 and 2006. During his 35 years as an FCO lawyer, Michael attended many international conferences, including the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. He spent three years at the UK Mission to the UN in New York, dealing chiefly with Security Council matters.

Since leaving the FCO in 2006, Sir Michael has acted for many governments in cases before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and inter-state arbitral tribunals. He has written extensively on public international law.


Called to the Bar; Gray’s Inn 1968; assistant legal advisor, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1970-81 and 1984-86; legal adviser to the Government of Southern Rhodesia 1979-80; legal adviser British Embassy, Bonn 1981-84; legal counsellor, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1986-91 and 1994-96; counsellor (legal adviser), United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, New York 1991-94; legal adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 1999-2006; Bencher of Gray’s Inn 2000.


French, German, Italian, Spanish (all proficient)


  • Committee on the Use of Force, International Law Association: Chairman (2011–2018)
  • Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals: Member, Advisory Board
  • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Heidelberg): Member of Advisory Board


  • Institute of European Studies, Brussels University (1969–70)
  • Cambridge University, MA LLB (First Class) (1969)

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Public international law

(Senior Counsel) Ranked: Tier 0

Sir Michael Wood KCMGTwenty EssexAn outstanding international lawyer. No one can quite compare with him.

Twenty Essex is ‘top of the list for public international law‘. Clients appreciate that the ‘powerhouse‘ set’s ‘very approachable‘ juniors and silks ‘wear their considerable expertise lightly‘. Two of the set’s top members, Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC and Sir Michael Wood KCMG served as principal legal advisers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and are now highly sought after as counsel. Both Bethlehem and Wood, as well as Guglielmo Verdirame QC, Philippa Webb, and Sudhanshu Swaroop QC, are representing Italy in a dispute with India, following the ‘Enrica Lexie‘ Incident, before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Verdirame QC was also a member of the government’s legal team advising on the controversial Internal Markets Bill. Chambers’ junior ranks have been bolstered by the arrival of Simon Olleson from Three Stone.