Melanie Carter

Partner and Head of Public & Regulatory


  • Class act and force of nature

    Chambers 2020

  • She is a very good communicator with an Olympic-standard knowledge of public law

    Chambers 2020

  • Strengths include her forensic analytical ability, coupled with her robust practical sense,

    Chambers 2020

  • It is marvellous when somebody at the top of their game is able to make complex matters relatively easy for the client to understand.

    Chambers 2020

  • Has an extensive knowledge and understanding of regulatory law and is thorough and clear in her communications,

    Chambers 2020

  • Recognised as a Key Lawyer and a Leading Individual in professional discipline and administrative and public law

    Legal 500 2020

  • It's marvellous when someone at the top of their game can make complex matters relatively easy for the client to understand, as she does

    Chambers 2019

  • Immensely knowledgeable, resourceful and crucially flexible

    Chambers 2019

  • Excellent solicitor - creative, hardworking and imaginative

    Legal 500 2018

  • "A very impressive public lawyer"

    Chambers 2018

  • Clients highlight her "international standard knowledge of public law"

    Chambers 2018

  • Shortlisted for an individual Legal 500 Award 2019 in the category of Public Sector

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2017

  • Melanie Carter is lauded as ‘a highly able lawyer, who is excellent at client management’

    Legal 500 2017

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2016

  • 'She is very impressive and quick to pick out salient points from masses of information.'

    Chambers UK 2016

  • Winner of Lawyer Monthly

    Women in Law 2016 Award: Public and Regulatory Law

  • "She really takes the time to understand our business and the strategic importance to the work."

    Chambers UK 2016

  • "She shows great personal interest in the areas of law that concern us."

    Chambers UK 2016

  • "Very impressive, very bright"

    Chambers 2016

  • 'Excellent. She understands very quickly what we are after in terms of responsiveness, flexibility and a practical focus.'

    Chambers UK 2015

  • 'Responsive and helpful at all times, and the advice she provides is clear and pragmatic.'

    Chambers UK 2015

  • Clients appreciate her ability to 'draw upon her experience to provide reassurance, insight and context.'

    Chambers UK 2015

  • Selected as a super lawyer 2014.

    Super Lawyers Magazine

  • "Her advice is always reliable and practical, she takes a constructive approach and she is always contactable."

    Chambers UK 2014

  • “Very penetrating and someone who cuts to the chase. She justifiably inspires confidence.”

    Chambers UK 2014

  • "She has always responded to my questions promptly, demonstrating consistency and insight in her advice," states a client.

    Chambers UK 2014

  • One source highlights her 'grasp of political issues and complex legislative regulation' while another emphasises 'her previous experience at the Bar has been invaluable.'

    Chambers UK 2013


I have worked for over 25 years as a public law and information law specialist, in the public sector (Home Office, Treasury Solicitors Department, Commission for Racial Equality, General Optical Council etc.), the third sector and in the private sector.

I am ranked as a leader in public & administrative law in the legal directories, also in information law, local government, elections and professional regulation.

I am a specialist in judicial review proceedings and regularly advise a broad range of public authorities on their powers and duties, as well as acting for those seeking to challenge the decisions of public authorities.

I am an expert in professional regulatory work. I have worked for many years as a specialist in this field, both as a high level adviser drafting rules and regulations, running cases acting for individuals and as a legal assessor.

I am a specialist in data protection and Freedom of Information and a Tribunal Judge in the First Tier (Information Rights) Tribunal.

My public law experience is based on Government legal service work for many years and in-house in other public authorities. I work for a range of regulators for their public law, judicial review and information law work. Current and recent examples include advising the Compliance Officer for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the Single Source Regulations Office, the former Audit Commission, the General Dental Council, the General Optical Council and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (for whom I also sit as a legal assessor).

I am renowned as the national lead on public sector audit work for local government and NHS Trusts (I am retained by the National Audit Office and Wales Audit Offices and most of the large accountancy firms undertaking public sector audit). This work has included, over the last 20 years, the most high profile audit investigations into corporate governance matters going all the way back to Westminster City Council’s recovery of the surcharge against Dame Shirley Porter in the “Homes for Votes Affair”.

I am a specialist in legislative drafting and parliamentary process. My expertise was learned in Government and is now provided to regulators responsible for their own legislation, foreign states and those seeking to draft opposition amendments. Examples of recent work have included the Prison and Parole Act in the Maldives, the Recall of MPs Bill for a backbench MP, statutory instruments achieving the transfer of public powers to a national charity and CPD rules for the General Optical Council.

I also sit as an international adjudicator for the Marine Stewardship Council.

Finally, I am a specialist in election law and have advised political parties and campaigners in recent general elections, referenda and in relation to lobbying.

  • I have advised successor bodies to the former Audit Commission including the National Audit Office
  • I am retained by Single Source Regulations Office
  • I have given advice in relation to Freedom of Information requests of Welsh national body and overlap with data protection
  • I have carried out data protection audits of an international charity
  • I conducted judicial review in relation to a challenge to a local authority rights of way policy (I am retained to conduct all of the Ramblers' campaigning litigation)
  • I advised on injunctive relief against the Post Office on competition law grounds
  • I advise a broad coalition of third sector bodies in relation to anti-lobbying clauses
  • I have provided representation in relation to Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry
  • I conducted the first ever Tribunal challenge to a decision of the Compliance Officer of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority
  • I have carried out judicial review against the Electoral Commission
  • I have defended a political party against potential electoral proceedings
  • I have advised a social enterprise on being statutorily incorporated and its classification under public bodies rules
  • I drafted the Recall of MPs Bill
  • I worked on the adjudication for Marine Stewardship Council in relation to the first cod fishery in Newfoundland to be certified sustainable since the collapse of the cod stocks

Qualifications and career

  • Cambridge University, BA, 1983
  • Called to the Bar in 1984
  • Admitted as a solicitor in 1998
  • Solicitor at public law groups of Bindman & Partners and Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP
  • Partner at Bates Wells
  • Head of Public & Regulatory since 2011

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Tribunal Judge, First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights)
  • Independent adjudicator, Marine Stewardship Council
  • Formerly Tribunal Judge, First-tier Tribunal (Standards)
  • Formerly a magistrate
  • Member of Administrative Law Bar Association, Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers Association
  • Trustee of Public Law Project
  • A founding member of Public Law Solicitors Association