Michael Hayes


Most memorable/fondest memory of Univ? Appearing in the Univ Players production of Ionesco’s "Rhinoceros" at the finals of the NUS Drama Festival at Aberystwyth. Directed by Braham Murray, leading parts were played by Philip Bushill-Mathews, Michael Johnson (now Michael York) and Michael Emrys-Jones (now Michael Elwyn). We got excellent reviews in the national papers but did not win.

Awkward moments at Univ? Lennie (now Lord) Hoffman was our tutor for Roman Law. We had to write an essay on "arra". This was a form of guarantee in the Roman law of contract. Academics were divided as to how it actually operated. I managed to find an old copy of a long out of date textbook from the 1930s. This was not on our reading list and did not seem to be on the shelves of any law library open to us. I adopted in my essay an argument contained within that book which was at variance with the more modern essays on the subject. Within minutes of starting my essay, Lenny interrupted me. "I know what that is. It’s Buckland. I don’t agree with a word of it."

The most important thing I learnt? Not to be intimidated by people who appear to be better/cleverer/happier than you, even if they are.

Most important thing you wish you had learnt at Oxford? I had three brothers and no sisters, went to a boys’ school, attended single sex Univ and later joined a (then) virtually all male profession. I envy today’s students in a healthier mixed environment.

Percent satisfaction with Oxford? 75%

Proudest achievement of my career? What counts as an achievement for a lawyer is often yawn-making to others. For a "private client" lawyer such as I was, professional confidentiality rules also mean that the most interesting achievements must remain undisclosed. One thing I did enjoy was being the first lawyer on the Camelot Lottery Winners Advisory Panel when the National Lottery was introduced in the mid nineties. This involved advising big winners on legal aspects affecting their new found wealth such as wills and inheritance tax. Hunter Davies (the Beatles’ biographer and Sunday Times columnist) wrote a book about the first year of the Lottery. I was interviewed by him, and he devoted a chapter in the book to me and my lottery winner activities.

Lowest point in my life? There have been a few. My mother dying shortly after I left Oxford. Being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999. Writing off my E-Type Jaguar in 2009. Wimbledon FC being relegated from the Premier Division in 2000. The FA allowing our club to be franchised and move to Milton Keynes in 2002 (only partially remedied when AFC Wimbledon returned to the Football League in 2011 after five promotions in nine years).

Adjective that best describes career? Difficult to find a single word. My father in law liked to say "we all become what we most despise", and I find some truth in that.

% of potential achieved? Beta ? minus (to use the calibration applied to our essays at Univ).

Most significant unfulfilled ambition? Since my teens I have been sporadically trying to learn bridge and golf. Neither have yet been achieved, so I might now try again.

Level of optimism about medium-term future of the world? I am a "glass half empty" sort of person. My approach is to hope for the best but fear the worst. Noel Coward put it very well in his song "There are Bad Times Just Around the Corner". Refer to Google for the lyrics or to YouTube for a performance by the Master (Sir Noel that is, not the Master of Univ).

Professional Life: I joined the City law firm Macfarlanes on leaving Oxford, and stayed there until I retired in 2004. I was head of the private client department from 1991 to 2000. I got bored with retirement and joined the London office of an international firm where I was a consultant for six and a half years, finally taking a second retirement in 2011.

Personal Life:  Married to Jackie for 41 years. We met in an amateur drama group. We have three adult children. We enjoy holidays in France and pottering up and down English waterways in our narrowboat. I was formerly on the board of a large housing association, and am now a Vice President, former trustee of and volunteer for the national charity “Independent Age”. I am also on the grant committee of three international grant making charities founded by former clients.


Sons William and Dominic at Wembley in 2008 to see AFC Wimbledon v Corinthian Casuals


With Jackie and daughter Victoria after our ruby wedding lunch in 2011


Charity trek on Great Wall of China in 2008 (wearing Dons 1988 Cup Final shirt)  


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