Michael has always had an interest in justice for the underdog. When still in first year at Osgoode 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 (Lawyer 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 Osgoode 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.