Nigel May

Call: 1974

Areas of expertise

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Among Nigel May’s claims to fame is his outstanding knowledge of the Court-Martial system. This has been built up over 20 years, first as a defence counsel and, later, also as a part-time Judge Advocate. He has also represented the Crown as respondent in the Court-Martial Appeal Court.

Nigel’s outstanding track record includes the groundbreaking case of Findlay v UK, in which he was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the British Government. Heard before the ECHR in Strasbourg, this case challenged the legality of the whole UK Court-Martial system. Subsequently, Nigel was invited by the Director of Army Legal Services to deliver lectures on advocacy to the entire organisation.

Nigel was also recently instructed as first junior in R v Payne and Others, an historic war crimes trial. Unprecedented in its length and complexity, this was the first time in British legal history that a serving soldier was convicted of a war crime.

In the general criminal sphere, Nigel is focused mainly on defence work. His practice spans the field of serious crime, encompassing murder, manslaughter, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, sexual crimes including rape, firearms offences, drugs crime and serious fraud.

He has, however, also prosecuted extensively for the CPS at Guildford, Reading and the Southwark Trials Unit. In the latter he was recently leading junior in a three-handed GBH trial, the appeal from which was subsequently resisted successfully at a two-day Court of Appeal hearing.

Notable cases

Findlay v UK
This case, heard before the ECHR in Strasbourg challenged the validity of the whole UK Court Martial system.

R v Payne and others
This historic war crimes trial was the first time in British legal history that a serving soldier was convicted of a war crime. It was unprecedented among Courts-Martial for its length and complexity.

R v Fenlon and others, 71 CAR 307
Defence counsel’s duties in relation to the cross-examination of co-defendants

R v Fritschy [1985] CLR 745
On the meaning of “appropriation” in the Theft Act.


Furnival Chambers