- Other Languages:
- Dutch (Fluent)
- Direct Professional Access:
Michelle is an experienced barrister, practising primarily in civil law. She is recognised, in particular, for her expertise in private international law matters, the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, EU law and the law applicable to disputes following Brexit.
She has appeared at every level of the Irish Courts, including the District Court, Circuit Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, the Special Criminal Court and the Supreme Court and has had reported cases (Irish Reports) every year since 2007.
In 2022, Michelle was appointed by the European Commission, as an Arbitrator to hear and determine bilateral trade disputes under the EU’s trade agreements with third countries (World Trade Organisation type disputes).
She is regularly instructed to advise and act for clients in personal injuries and medical negligence actions, including clinical negligence actions such as the DePuy defective hip litigation, injuries suffered by reason of delayed diagnosis, cervical cancer and medical mesh litigation, catastrophic injuries sustained at birth, acquired brain injury and issues relating to general surgery. In 2022, she was placed on State Claims Agency panel of barristers acting for the State under the Clinical Indemnity Scheme (medical negligence actions against the State).
A Member of the Bar Council of Ireland’s Working Group on Family Law Reform, Michelle has a keen interest in family law and reform of the family courts. Her practise encompasses all aspects of family law, from straightforward judicial separation and divorce, to cases involving family businesses, inherited assets, or high net worth cases. She also deals with custody/access, child/spousal maintenance, paternity/declarations of parentage, guardianship and surrogacy applications. She appears primarily in the Circuit Court Family, the High Court Family and the Court of Appeal.
Personal injuries / Medical Negligence
- In 2020, Michelle was junior counsel in a case where the Plaintiff sustained an acquired brain injury as a result of alleged negligence in her treatment/management when she presented to the Defendant hospital. The case was settled prior to trial and a settlement secured for the Plaintiff.
- Acted for an infant who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, as a result of alleged negligence and breach of duty around the time of her birth. The case was ultimately settled at mediation and compensation was secured for the Plaintiff.
- Acted for a client who suffered a perforated bowel during surgery and an ischaemic brain insult during a subsequent surgical procedure. A settlement was achieved for the client at mediation, in advance of the trial.
Browne v Van Geene  IEHC 612 – Tort – Damages & Restitution – Medical negligence – Loss of earnings – Nature and extent of injuries – Restricted employment – Disability allowance
- Advises and acts regularly in judicial separation and divorce proceedings, including cases with an international element.
- Acted for a ‘high net worth’ individual in a judicial separation in the High Court Family. The case involved the division of assets, both in Ireland and abroad, child and spousal maintenance, investments, shares, pensions and company valuations.
- Secured a substantial tranche of inherited land for an Applicant in the High Court Family. The Respondent was subsequently unsuccessful in his appeal of the judgment.
- A fluent Dutch speaker, Michelle has also appeared before the Dutch Courts as an expert witness in a cross-border family law action, where she gave evidence entirely through the Dutch language.
O’N v C.D.  IEHC 478 – Judicial review – Certiorari – Divorce – Applicant seeking judicial review – Whether the trial judge acted in breach of the applicant’s constitutional and natural law rights to fair procedures
PD v RD  IEHC 174 – Husband and wife – Decree of judicial separation – Ancillary relief – Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 – Family Law Act 1995 – Grounds of separation – Unreasonable behaviour – Irretrievably broken down – Adultery – Maintenance – Periodical payment order – Children of the marriage
F.L.S. v X.X.L. (Fictional Initials)  IEHC 663 – Family proceedings – Judicial separation – Property adjustment order – Parties seeking an order for judicial separation – Whether an order for judicial separation should be made
Notable cases include:
Power v DPP and Att. General and IHRC (application to restrain trial in Central Criminal Court pending disclosure of documents);
NJ O’D and others -v- an tAire Oideachais, Eire agus an tArd Aighne (calculated grades, Leaving Certificate);
Hammond v Wexford County Council (opposing an application to set aside a grant of leave for judicial review);
Ryan v Wexford County Council (test for grant of order for discovery in judicial review proceedings);
O’Neill v Delahunt (family law; fair procedures);
Strebor Security Limited v. An Bord Achomhairc Shlándáil Phríobháideach (challenge to refusal of a private security licence);
Tony Cottrell trading as Ferrybank Financial Services v The Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) (challenge to refusal of application for authorisation as a mortgage intermediary);
Szymik v. Chief Appeals Officer and Minister for Social Protection (fair procedures);
Gartland v An Bord Pleanala and An Taisce (planning judicial review);
Hennessy v Carlow County Council (planning judicial review);
O’Brien v. Waterford City Council (housing judicial review);
Wang and Ors v Min. for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (right to reside in the State);
Gultamze Chkhaidze v Min. For Justice, Equality and Law Reform (asylum / immigration)
O’Reilly v Judge Collins and DPP (judicial review relating to drink driving and prosecutorial delay);
Burke v Judge Finn and DPP (refusal of certificate for legal aid);
Hyland v. Judge Finn and Michael Mooney (re the failure to fix recognisances in the District Court);
Mullins v Judge Finn and DPP (failure to fix recognisances in the District Court);
Aherne v Judge Finn and DPP (direction to Accused and/or his solicitor to furnish the names and details of defence witnesses to the prosecution);
Michelle has extensive experience in professional and regulatory matters, including the following:
- Medical Council (Fitness to Practise);
- Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (Fitness to Practise);
- The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal;
- Disciplinary Tribunal of Chartered Accountants Ireland;
- The Financial Services Regulatory Authority;
- Private Security Authority (Fit and Proper guidelines for grant/refusal of licence);
- Property Services Regulatory Authority (High Court and Disciplinary);
- The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal;
- Acting unled in High Court regulatory matters;
- Acting unled in High Court Judicial Review (regulatory matters);
Michelle has been instructed in indictable criminal matters and defended alone in the Circuit Criminal Court since 2005.
She appeared in DPP v Kieran Ryan (Circuit Court and Court of Appeal) which is the leading Irish case relating to sentencing for firearms offences.
She was also instructed in DPP v Christopher Kelly (2023), another firearms case. The appeal related to the difference in sentences imposed on two co-accused.
Michelle was instructed in DPP v David Walsh (2023), which was the first case to come before the Irish Courts under the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, 2020.
Michelle Smith de Bruin, ‘Digital Services Act: Reining in the ‘Tech’ Giants and Re-shaping Digital Rights,’ Viewpoints, The Bar of Ireland (June, 2023).
CPD Paper on the Assisted Decision-Making Act, 2015 (as amended); summary of law and procedure, 2023.
Michelle Smith de Bruin, ‘Dignity Knows No Bounds – Transnational Defamation Actions’  Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 6 (2) 14
Contributor to Practice and Procedure in the Superior Courts, by Benedict Ó Floinn SC (2022 and 2008 editions).
Transnational Litigation: Jurisdiction and Procedure, Roundhall, 2008
Contributor (Irish Chapter) to the book – The European Insolvency Regulation
Contributor to publication by the European Commission: ‘Foreign Law and its perspectives for the future at European Level.’ Study dealt with:
- the way in which foreign law is treated in the different EU Member States; and
- the extent to which foreign law is applied by judicial and extrajudicial authorities in practice and the practical difficulties encountered in this area.
- ‘Medico-Legal Aspects of Sports and Exercise’ – MSc in Sports and Exercise Medicine/physiotherapy at NUIG (for doctors and physiotherapists);
- ‘Equality and the Law’ – Institute of Technology, Carlow;
- ‘Employment Law’ at the Harcourt Business School.
- CPD papers, include ‘The Taking of Evidence from Foreign Witnesses.’
Michelle has coached and advised secondary school students in their preparation for mock legal trials in the Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin and the World Finals in New York, USA.
The Media, Internet and Data Protection Bar Association (MIDBA)
MIDBA is a specialist bar association for barristers who practice in the area of media, internet, data protection and technology law. Many large technology companies have their European headquarters located in Ireland. MIDBA promotes awareness of current developments in these complex areas of law.
The EU Bar Association (EUBA)
The EU Bar Association is a specialist bar association for Irish barristers who practice in the area of EU law.
Cumann Barra na Gaeilge
Bunaíodh Cumann Barra na Gaeilge chun fóram a chur ar fáil do dhlí-chleachtóirí, idir abhcóidí agus aturnaetha, a chleachtaíonn an dlí trí mheán na Gaeilge nó ar suim leo saineolas sa Dlí-Chleachtadh trí Ghaeilge nó saineolas maidir le cúrsaí dlí agus Gaeilge a fhorbairt.
Bar Council of Ireland’s Working Group on Family Law Reform
The group is currently working on formulating policy proposals for the reform of the family law system in Ireland. It is also working on submissions regarding the recently published heads of bill, which provide for significant reform of the family courts, to include changes in jurisdiction and specialist family law judges.