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Twenty Essex

Work 020 7842 1200
Fax 020 7842 1270
London, Singapore

Sir Michael Wood KCMG

Work 020 7842 1200
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)

London Bar

Public international law

Within: Public international law – Leading juniors

Sir Michael Wood KCMG - Twenty EssexExcellent, with a smooth and emollient advocacy style.

Within: Public international law

Twenty Essex has a stellar reputation for public international law, fielding some highly experienced barristers at both senior and junior levels. Members have been involved in a broad range of headline cases with major international law issues. Notable highlights included Guglielmo Verdirame’s instruction as part of the attorney general’s team in Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Sir Michael Wood KCMG’s involvement in the Australia v Timor-Leste conciliation, as well as Sir Daniel Bethlehem KCMG QC leading a team in the ‘Enrica Lexie’ incident (Italy v India).

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