Michael has always had an interest in justice for the underdog. When still in first year at Osgood Hall Law School in Ontario, Michael and another student sued the Government of British Columbia for failing to permit residents of British Columbia to vote by absentee ballot in provincial elections. They argued it was a violation of the voting rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case went to the British Columbia Court of Appeal where, with the help of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Michael won.
The decision is a leading case under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and residents of British Columbia now have the right to vote by absentee ballot: Hoogbruin v. British Columbia (Attorney General), (1984) 54 B.C.L.R. 177 (S.C.); Hoogbruin v. A.G.B.C., (1985) 70 B.C.L.R. 1 (C.A.).
Michael was born in The Netherlands. His family moved to Canada when he was a young child and he grew up first in Winnipeg and then North Vancouver. He did his undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University before going to study law and obtain his law degree, Juris Doctor, at Osgood Hall Law School, after which he studied at Universite’ Laval in Quebec City. Michael returned to Vancouver to begin his legal career.
Michael has been a lawyer in British Columbia since 1987, practising almost exclusively in the area of personal injury law. The first five years of his practice he worked primarily representing defendants on behalf of ICBC. He developed a good understanding of how cases are conducted on behalf of large insurance companies. Having always been more comfortable representing the underdog, since 1992 Michael has restricted his practice exclusively to representing plaintiffs.
He has represented clients at all levels of courts in British Columbia: Small Claims Court, Supreme Court (Jury and Judge alone trials), and the Court of Appeal.
Michael is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the British Columbia Law Society, the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, and the American Association for Justice.
In his spare time Michael likes to spend time with his family. His wife, Amandah, has a PhD in nursing and they like to discuss health care issues including alternative healthcare and the problems facing our health care system. He also enjoys learning about modern youth culture from his daughters, Christine and Megan – that is, when they are in Vancouver and not traveling to far off places in all parts of the world to pursue their education and participate in volunteer projects.
Michael also enjoys taking walks with friends or while listening to audio books, cycling, swimming, golf and Friday night “dinner and a movie” with Amandah. Some of his favourite movies are about justice for the underdog: To Kill a Mockingbird; Anatomy of a Murder; Witness for the Prosecution; and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.