Nigel is the company’s Head of Legal Practice and leads both the legal and compliance, and business affairs teams. He is a leading media lawyer who specialises in advising the television, film, advertising and publishing industries. His practice encompasses advice and representation to numerous broadcasters, production companies of all sizes, publishers, as well as other content producers on all aspects of the law and regulation affecting their commercial and editorial activities.
Nigel is the Editor of zoom-in magazine and writes extensively on media law and related issues (see below). He regularly delivers presentations and training to journalists and those working in the television production sector.
‘Nigel has an outstanding understanding of working with diverse editorial teams. I trust his judgment completely.’
Dorothy Byrne, Editor at Large, C4 (formerly Head of News and Current Affairs, C4)
After starting out at the libel bar, followed by six wonderful years working in-house within Channel 4’s legal and compliance department, Nigel set up his own legal consultancy practice in 2002, quickly establishing himself as the ‘go-to’ legal and compliance adviser for a large number of independent television production companies, broadcasters and individuals working in the creative industries.
In 2011, Nigel re-joined leading media barristers’ chambers 5RB in order to practise more litigation alongside his advisory practice. In 2015 Nigel decided to take advantage of a change in the law allowing barristers to own and practise through companies and set up specialist media firm, Abbas Media Law.
Over the last 25 years, Nigel has been at the ‘coalface’ of developments in media law and regulation, and has advised a huge number of media clients on some of the most cutting-edge content in that time across all genres: investigative, documentary, factual, fact-ent, specialist factual, features, drama including many fact-based dramas and drama-docs, as well as film and comedy. He has advised on thousands of hours of content, creatively managing legal and regulatory risk in order to realise content producers’ editorial ambitions, pushing at the boundaries whilst keeping them out of trouble.
Some highlights over the years include: being one of two lead C4 lawyers advising on Big Brother series 1 and 2, advising numerous editorial teams and drafting all the legal and compliance guidelines for the various platforms (see Media Guardian article https://www.theguardian.com/media/2001/jun/11/channel4.realitytv); being lead lawyer on C4’s ground-breaking gay drama series Queer as Folk, reviewing and advising on the series, as well as successfully defending it against approximately ten thousand complaints to the then regulators the ITC and BSC; advising on a number of Peter Kosminsky’s films over the years including The Government Inspector, Britz, and The Promise; working on numerous documentaries in Channel 4’s Cutting Edge stand, numerous current affairs programmes in both Channel 4’s Dispatches and the BBC’s Panorama strands, and advising Channel 4 News over many years in particular with regard to special reports commissioned by C4 News’s Indie Growth Fund.
More recently, standout highlights include being the UK lead legal advisor on My Scientology Movie (Louis Theroux, John Dower, Red Box Films); Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation (James Rogan, On the Corner, BBC); McQueen (Ian Bonhote and Peter Ettedgui, Salon Pictures); and Harvey Weinstein feature, Untouchable (Ursula Macfarlane, Lightbox). Nigel has worked with Love Productions since its inception and is proud to have worked and advised on most of its shows over the last fifteen years, particular highlights being The Baby Borrowers, Boys and Girls Alone, Benefits Street, and, of course, The Great British Bake Off.
Nigel has vast experience of dealing with high-profile post-publication and broadcast legal and regulatory complaints particularly to Ofcom and the ASA: advising on merits, tactics, drafting submissions and pleadings, as well as advocacy. He has also represented clients in most types of media claims before the English courts, including defamation, privacy, copyright and judicial review cases.
‘Imaginative, creative, utterly reliable, legally rigorous and terrific fun, if there’s a better media lawyer, I haven’t yet met them’
Richard McKerrow, Creative Director, Love Productions
Channel 4 Producers’ Handbook (Channel 4): Nigel is the primary author of Channel 4’s Producers’ Handbook, a comprehensive guide to television law and regulation as they apply to the making and broadcasting of television programmes in the UK. Equal in scale and ambition to the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, it is now the benchmark for best-practice training and procedures in the UK independent television sector. The Handbook was originally published in 2008, is updated regularly and is made available by Channel 4 online at www.channel4.com/producers-handbook/
Channel 4’s Fair Dealing Guidelines: Nigel is historically one of the primary authors of this industry leading guidance note. At C4’s request, Nigel updated the guidelines in 2014 and is the sole author of the sections relating to fair dealing with quotations, and fair dealing for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche.
Tugendhat & Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media (3rd edition, OUP, 2016): Nigel is a co-author of this leading textbook on privacy laws and regulations.
Blackstone’s Guide to The Defamation Act (OUP, 2013): Nigel is a co-author of this useful practical guide to the UK’s most recent Act attempting to modernise the UK’s defamation laws.
zoom-in magazine (AML/MBI): Nigel created and is the Editor of zoom-in, a magazine distributed nationally alongside Broadcast, the main trade magazine of the UK television industry. With a quarterly print run of nine thousand (and reach including online of over a hundred thousand), zoom-in is an informative and entertaining mix of media law news, lifestyle features and exclusive interviews with leading producers and talent.
When not working…
Nigel is a passionate supporter of the visual arts and is a Trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts (Friends’ Board). He is a former Trustee of HIV charity Crusaid (now part of Terence Higgins Trust) and a former Top Tier Stonewall Ambassador.
When not working, Nigel can be usually be found either exercising; watching television, a movie or at the theatre; at a gallery; learning Spanish, socialising; or mindlessly flicking through social media. Nigel is an active club-level tennis player and when not travelling spends most his time between London and Palma, Mallorca.
Academician’s Room, Friends of the Royal Academy, Tate Members, Soho House, Holland Park Tennis Club, The Harbour Club Chelsea, Palma Sport & Tennis Club.
‘I have worked with Nigel on some of the most legally challenging projects of my career and I have felt utterly confident in his counsel which is always underpinned by wisdom, intelligence and rigour. He is an absolute pleasure to deal with.’
Simon Chinn, Co-Founder, Lightbox