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 1

Sir Michael Wood KCMGTwenty EssexAn outstanding international lawyer.

Twenty Essex has a selection of top names at senior and junior level who have established incredibly strong track records in public international law. Two members were formerly principal legal advisers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including Sir Michael Wood KCMG who never took silk due to a historic quirk in the system, but is a QC in all but name and therefore sits in The Legal 500‘s ‘Senior Counsel’ table in recognition of his expertise. Members have been involved in several major cases, including Australia v Timor-Leste Conciliation, while Guglielmo Verdirame QC and Sudhanshu Swaroop QC faced each other on the Freedom and Justice Party of Egypt v Foreign & Commonwealth Office case.