Dr Michael Napier QC CBE
Dr Michael Napier QC CBE (LLB Law 1967) – Lead Independent Director, Harbour Litigation Funding Ltd
Michael Napier has been one of the UK’s leading lawyers for over 40 years and has played a major role in law reform and the development of the civil justice system.
He received his LLB from The University of Manchester in 1967, having also been a stalwart of the rugby team and senior student at his hall of residence, Hulme Hall.
He continued his legal training at the College of Law in Guildford and at a small firm in Loughborough that represented injured miners. From there, he was inspired to join Thompson’s solicitors in Manchester, one of the largest personal injury law firms in the country.
In 1972, Michael crossed the Pennines to Sheffield to join Irwin Mitchell, then a small high street firm but now a major national practice.
It was there – a firm he led for 30 years as senior partner – and in the well-known firm Pannone Napier, that he made his mark over four decades, representing clients in many landmark cases and pioneering major developments in the law of personal injury, clinical negligence, mental health and pensions.
He was at the forefront of developing group actions in the 1980s and 1990s, acting on behalf of victims of the major transport disasters of that period, including the Manchester Air Crash and the sinkings of the Herald of Free Enterprise and the Marchioness. He was the first solicitor advocate to appear before the European Court of Human Rights in 1981 in the Case of X, which established meaningful tribunal rights for detained mental patients.
An honorary QC, he was President of the Law Society in 2000-2001 and is a former President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. As a member of the Civil Justice Council, he has been a leading voice in pressing for law reform to improve access to justice for consumers. Since 2002, Michael has been the Attorney General’s Pro Bono Envoy, was awarded the CBE in 2005, and was named Lawyer of the Year 2012 in the Legal Business Awards.