Michael Blackwell

Email: M.C.Blackwell@lse.ac.uk
Administrative support: Prabhat Sakya
Room: New Academic Building 7.30
Tel. 020-7955-7261

Michael Blackwell joined the LSE Law Department as Assistant Professor of Tax Law in 2013. Michael is a non-practising solicitor and barrister of Lincoln’s Inn. Michael practiced tax law as a solicitor at Linklaters, where he also trained. Michael holds the degrees of BSc (Government), MSc (Social Research Methods) and LLM and PhD: all studied at LSE.

Research Interests

Michael conducts both empirical research on the legal profession and judiciary, as well as doctrinal research into chancery law: principally revenue law and charities law.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Taking Silk: An Empirical Study of the Award of Queen’s Counsel Status 1981–2015' (2015) 78 (6) Modern Law Review pp.971-1003

This article considers which junior barristers are appointed to the rank of Queen’s Counsel. The criticisms of the old appointments system are discussed and statistical methods are used to assess whether the changes to the QC appointments system introduced in 2004 improved the prospects of appointment for groups, such as women, that were disadvantaged by the previous system. The results show that under the reformed system groups that were historically less likely to be appointed QCs, such as women, continue to be so. However it is discussed how this may (partly) be attributable to lower rates of application, rather than unfair discrimination among applicants.

'Corporate Tax Law: Structure, Policy and Practice' (Book Review) [2014] (1) BTR 100-101

‘Rights, Interveners and the Law Lords’  (with Sangeeta Shah and Thomas Poole) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies  (2014) 34 pp.295-324

This article presents the findings of an empirical investigation into the role of third party interventions in the House of Lords. It examines all the judgments in that court from 1994 to 2009 and tests four hypotheses concerning the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 upon the incidence of interventions and their influence on the decision-making of the Law Lords.

‘Lawyers and the Public Good: Democracy in Action?' (Book Review) (2013) 76(2) MLR 419-421

‘Do the haves come out ahead in tax litigation? An empirical study of the dynamics of tax appeals in the UK’ (Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation WP13/20, 2013)

This paper considers which parties appeal in tax cases and which parties win such appeals. It adapts party capability theory to derive hypotheses concerning the relative advantages of (certain types of) taxpayers and HMRC, and how this may be affected by institutional factors, such as requirements for permission to appeal, and factors associated with the resources of the parties, such as legal representation.

‘Variation in the Outcomes of Tax Appeals Between Special Commissioners: An Empirical Study’ [2013] British Tax Review  pp.154-174

This article uses statistical techniques to model the variation between tribunal members in the outcome of appeals to the Special Commissioners, the tribunal which generally heard the most complex first-instance direct tax appeals, controlling for factors associated with the complexity of the case and the area of tax law. It identifies substantial variation between Special Commissioners and examines whether such variation can be attributable to the professional background of tribunal members. The consequences of the uncertainty generated by such variation are considered, including its impact on the operation of the draft GAAR. This article is based on a dataset, assembled by the author, of all the 746 decisions made by the Special Commissioners between 1995 (when their decisions were first reported) until 2009 (when their jurisdiction was transferred to the new tribunal structure).

‘Old Boys' Networks, Family Connections and the English Legal Profession’ [2012] Public Law pp.426-444

‘Measuring the Length of the Chancellor's Foot: Quantifying How Legal Outcomes Depend on the Judges Hearing the Case and Whether Such Variation Can Be Explained by Characteristics of the Judges’ (2009)

This paper considers the extent that judicial decisions are dependent on which judge(s) hears the case and whether any variation in decision making can be attributable to factors associated with the judge(s). This paper addresses these questions, using multi-level modelling, by a statistical analysis of the 1,308 appeals from the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal heard by the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) of England and Wales between 2001 and 2009 assembled by the author for this purpose.

Response to the Legal Services Board Consultation Document ‘Increasing diversity and social mobility in the legal workforce: transparency and evidence’ (2011)

(with Jason Collins) ‘Update: tax’ (2009) 153(15) Solicitor's Journal 24-26

(with Jason Collins) ‘Update: corporate tax’ (2009) 153(28) Solicitor's Journal 26-28

(with Jason Collins) ‘Finance Act notes: penalties – sections 122-123 and Schedules 40 and 41’ [2008] (5) BTR 520-522

'HMRC's Litigation and Settlements Strategy’ (2008) 945 Tax Journal 9-10