Michael is a Partner and Solicitor at Watkins & Gunn and we were delighted to welcome him to the firm in 2014.
He is the Head of Public & Administrative law at Watkins & Gunn and is a highly regarded personal injury lawyer – at a national level. Michael has been involved in some of the highest profile cases in Wales in recent years that cover Judicial Review, Education law matters and Personal Injury matters. He is regularly asked to speak at national Personal Injury and Public Law conferences and events and has a back catalogue of high profile articles and media commentaries on his cases (see below).
- Public/Administrative Law, Education Law and Judicial Review.
- Complex, high value Personal Injury cases, including Clinical Negligence.
Michael has been ranked as a Band 1 and Leading Lawyer in both the Chambers UK Guide 2018 and the Legal 500 2018 Directory – both independent guides that gather client opinion and that of other legal professionals to rank lawyers regionally and nationally.
“Belying its size, Watkins & Gunn Solicitors’ public sector group has built up a strong reputation for handling administrative law challenges concerning the decisions of local authorities. Team head Michael Imperato provides ‘high-quality and responsive advice’, is noted for his ‘strong dedication to the work he does’, and ‘always strives for a satisfactory solution for his clients’.
– Legal 500 2018 (Administrative & Public Law)
“Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn is well versed in public law disputes arising out of cuts to public services. He typically acts for campaign groups bringing judicial reviews against local authorities and the Welsh Government.”
– Chambers UK Guide 2018 (Public Law)
“Michael Imperato is best known for dealing with cases of a sensitive nature, including fatal accidents and sexual abuse cases. One source states: “He works very hard on his cases and he likes to pursue aspects of a case that other solicitors wouldn’t. He is prepared to take risks.”
– Chambers UK Guide 2018 (Personal Injury Law)
- APIL fellow
- Co-ordinator APIL Wales
- Member of Law Society Personal Injury Panel
- Member Law Society Civil Justice Committee
- Committee member South Wales Confederation of Law Societies
- Member and former President of Cardiff & District Law Society
- Committee member Public Law Wales
- Member Travel and Tourism Law Association
- Member of Education Lawyers Association
- Member and Vice Chair of Legal Aid Agency Special Control Review Panel
- Member of Legal Aid Agency Funding & Costs Appeals Review Panel
- Honorary Legal Adviser BUSK (charity promoting safe school transport)
- Trustee and Secretary Bevan Foundation
- Trustee Cerebra (Charity for Brain injured children)#
- School Governor
- Visiting Scholar Swansea University
Michael’s high profile Public Law matters include:
Ysbyty Glan Clwyd
Acted for local campaign group fighting the closure of the Neo Natal maternity Centre at Galn Clwyd Hospital, North Wales. In early 2015 the local Health Board (LHB) had decided the unit had to close due to ‘emergency’ circumstances. However, this argument was exposed as flawed by the High Court and the LHB was ordered to consult. As part of the consultation the unit was again targeted for closure but following persuasive representations the threat has yet again ben shelved. This was one of the highest profile community campaigns in Wales in 2015.
Links to media coverage on this matter:
John Summers High School
This is a popular High School in the Queensferry area in North Wales. It was earmarked for colure by the Local Authority in September 2015. Acting for local campaigners attempting to save this school Watkins & Gunn issued High Court Judicial review proceedings at the end of the year arguing that the Local Authority had failed to properly consult with young people affected by the proposals contrary to the Welsh Government guidance.
School Transport in Denbighshire
A case which had Wales-wide repercussions for rural free school transport involves two children in Denbighshire who are taking on their local council in a Judicial Review case. Alice Coleman and Rhys Owen live in a rural area in North Wales, twelve miles form their nearest school and nearly three miles from the school bus pick up point. As the route to the pick up point is accepted by everyone to be too hazardous to walk the children received free transport in a taxi to the pick up point until this was withdrawn by the Council. It was said it was the responsibility of their parents to deliver them to the pick up point and that this was one of the problems families living in rural Wales had to simply put up with. The council conceded shortly before trial.
Gwernyfed High School
This popular mid Wales secondary school was earmarked for closure by Powys County Council. With the support of the school and the local community we launched Judicial Review proceedings on the basis that the Council had not followed their own, and the Welsh Government guidance, in producing the closure proposal. In July 2015 the Council backed down, overturning the closure decision and saving the school.
Welsh Medium Education in Newport
We succeeded in making Newport Council (NC) provide free transport for a secondary school girl to a Welsh Medium school in Cardiff when she had to leave her original school due to bullying. NC initially argued that she should go to a local English medium school but Libby Webbe had been educated in the medium of Welsh since nursery. After threatening Judicial Review proceedings NC eventually backed down.
Michael acted for the community of Rhoose in South Wales battling to save their local library. Vale of Glamorgan Council (VGC) had carried out a library review and consultation and decided that the library should either close or become a Community Library. The matter went to a hearing in the High Court in October. Unfortunately the case was lost but the trial judge recognised that VGC had failed in a number of ways in their decision making process. In a rare move, she invited the campaigners to appeal her decision. The matter was heard in the Court of Appeal early 2017.
Church Stretton Library
Shropshire County Council (SCC) decided in early 2015 to move the popular local town library out of the village Centre and into the Academy school. Local people have fought this move alleging that the consultation by SCC was really predetermined and that the Council unfairly dismissed their alternative plans to the relocation. The Council conceded on the day of trial in May 2016.
Newport Head Teacher Historic Sex Abuse Cases
Michael is acting for a number of victims of historic sex abuse carried out by a Newport primary school head teacher in the 1970’s. The perpetrator committed suicide in 2007 just as he was about to face criminal charges but his victims are still suffering the effects of his actions. This could become one of the biggest and most high profile sex abuse cases in Wales.
Links to media coverage on this case:
Inquest into suicide of Pembrokeshire schoolboy
This is a tragic case of a 14 year old boy, who was in and out of council care, who committed suicide in late 2014 whilst in school. He had threatened suicide previously. This case raises important issues as to the level of care of social services in Pembrokeshire and possible lack of communication between social, health and education services. Such is the importance of this case that the Coroner is considering a detailed Human Right (article 2) inquest in 2016.
Overturning of Wrexham Teenagers School Exclusion
Permanent exclusion form school can have devastating effects for a young persons education. In early 2015, by way of Judicial Review proceedings, we successfully overturned the exclusion of a teenage girl from the Wrexham area. The School had agreed a home tuition ‘education otherwise’ programme for her, but then took the extraordinary decision to permanently exclude before the programme had finished. To make matters worse, the schools actions were endorsed by the local authority independent exclusions appeals panel. We argued this was un lawful and contrary to the Welsh Government guidance on exclusions. Wrexham Council eventually conceded and the exclusion was quashed.
Reported Cases Include:
- Akehurst & Others v Thompson Holidays 6 May 2003 (CC Cardiff) – Gerona Air Crash
- Rogers v National Assembly of Wales –  EWCA Civ 250 – Court of Appeal –
- Brown & Others v Corus –  EWCA Civ 374 – Court of Appeal – Landmark VWF/HAVS case
- R (on the application of Lloyd) v Pembrokeshire County Council  EWHC 2312 ( Hermon School Closure case) – High Court
- Ceredigion CC v Jones & Others  UKHL 24 – House of Lords – School Transport case
- Welsh Ambulance NHS Trust v Williams  EWCA Civ 81 – Court of Appeal – Important Fatal Accident CAse
- Gower Chemicals Group Litigation  EWHC 735 – High Court- Goup action – chemical exposure
- R (on the application of Roberts) v The Welsh Ministers (2011) EWHC 3416 (admin) – School CLosure
- R (on the application of Flatley) v Hywel Dda UHB  EWHC 655 (Admin) – Hospital Closure
- R (On the application of Thomas) v Hywel Dda University Health Board  EWHC 4044 (Admin); (2015) PLLR 018 – Hospital Closure
- R (On the application of Tilley) v Vale of Glamorgan Council  All ER (D) 64 (Nov) – Library Closure
- Have acted in cases saving a number of libraries in past 2 years (Rhydyfelin, Darlington, Church Stretton), schools (Gwernyfed School), successfully challenged school transport policies.
Publications & Published Articles
Michael is a contributor for the sports law chapter for the APIL publication: ‘Personal Injury Law, Practice & Precedents’.
His published articles include:
- “Who is the Defendant in the Black?” – liability of referees in sports personal injury cases – Personal Injury Law Journal 2003
- “Getting a grip on Substances Hazardous to Health” – Welsh Journal of Law & Policy 2004
- “Can Governing Bodies be held liable for Injury and Death in Sports Law?” – Solicitors Journal 2004
- “When does Reinstatement not mean Reinstatement?” – Exclusion Law – Wales Journal of Law & Policy 2004
- “Claiming for Gratuitous Care in Small Value Cases” – Solicitors Journal 2005
- “Brown & Others v Corus” Recent developments in vibration white finger cases – Wales Journal of Law & Policy 2005
- “Fatal Accidents and Common Law Partners” – Solicitors Journal 2006
- “Crisis in Legal Aid for Education Law” – Education, Public Law & the Individual 2006
- ‘Wish You Were Here? Dealing with personal injury claims arising from accidents abroad.’ – Legal News – The Magazine of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies (August 2007)
- ‘The Empathetic Lawyer.’ – Legal News – The Magazine of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies (December 2007)
- “A Fatal Misconception” The definition of dependants in a fatal accident claim and valuing the deceased’s contribution – Solicitors Journal 2008
- ‘Spanish Travel Claims; What Lurks Beneath?’ – Legal News – The Magazine of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies (August 2008)
- ‘The Coroners Tale – Lord Justice Scott Baker on the Diana Inquest.’ – Legal News – The Magazine of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies (December 2008)
- “Skiing Trips…Skiing Slips” Recent developments in skiing injury cases – Solicitors Journal 2009
- “No Minister” Analysis of the election court ruling which removed a former Labour MP and minister from his parliamentary seat – Solicitors Journal 2010.
- ‘Local Knowledge’, local standards in foreign PI cases – Solicitors Journal Nov 2013.
- ‘Should Wales Develop a Separate Civil Legal Jurisdiction; Do Further Devolved Powers For the National Assembly for Wales Presage a Separate Civil Welsh Legal Jurisdiction?’ – Cardiff University LLM Thesis 2014.
- ‘Government Scores Bedroom Tax Own Goal.’ Guest Blog – Bevan foundation (May 2014)
- ‘The Administrative Court in Wales,’ – Legal News – The Magazine of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies (April 2014)
- ‘Legal Challenges to the Trade Union Bill.’ – Guest Blog – Bevan foundation (Nov 2015)
Outside of Work:
Michael is a very keen sportsman, namely involving playing football, cricket and golf as well as running half marathons! When he has the chance to sit down and listen to music, you’ll find him listening to the brilliant David Bowie.