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  1. Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
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The ‘commercial and pragmatic’ group at B P Collins LLPhandles an impressive range of work’ for a mix of corporates and high net-worth individuals, and has been notably active in the retail, leisure, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries, among others. The team specialises in enforcing and resisting restrictive covenants, and also advises on business immigration matters, and internal HR issues. ‘Commercial, approachable and technically competent’ practice head Jo Davis stands out for her ‘attention to detail’, and frequently handles complex TUPE transactions, senior partner exits and post-termination restrictions. Other key figures include senior associates Kathryn Fielder and Chris Brazier; Fielder has extensive experience dealing with the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues, most notably injunctive actions, family friendly rights and internal compliance matters, and Brazier has ‘a great depth of knowledge in work permit and immigration issues’. Clients include waste management specialist Biffa, IT retailer Misco UK and medical supplier CliniMed.

The ‘outstanding’ team at Dentonsdeals with all requests in a timely manner’, and ‘always articulates the risks and benefits of each option in a clear, accessible way’. The firm receives substantial mandates retail, transport, financial institution and telecoms sector clients, and is also noted for its strong education expertise, acting for clients such as St Paul’s School, Stephenson Academy and Cognita Schools. Recent work included advising Waitrose on the employment aspects of several convenience store acquisitions, handling the due diligence processes, TUPE transfers and employee integration into the Waitrose brand. The firm is also acting for Royal Mail in the termination of a mailroom services contract, providing TUPE and redundancy advice, and is currently providing TUPE advice to London Overground Rail Operations in respect of a £1.5bn asset transfer to Arriva and Bombardier. The practice is led by Sarah Beeby, who ‘understands the pressures placed upon employers’ and ‘has an excellent grasp of the law and its application’. Senior associate Verity Buckingham handles employment disputes, defending claims at tribunal related to unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing, and Michelle Lamb advises on non-contentious issues including outsourcings, redundancies and trade union negotiations. Other notable clients include the Virgin Group, John Lewis and Network Rail.

EMW Law LLP is ‘a strong firm’ and ‘acts for high-profile clients in good quality cases’. The team provides ‘strategic advice’ in high-value employee disputes, and also handles the full range of non-contentious issues for a cross-sector client list. The team is especially noted for its strength in the banking sector, key clients including Santander and the Banking Standards Board, and it also receives strong mandates from the retail, food and recruitment industries. Recent highlights include advising a retail sector client on the employment status of a group of atypical workers following a challenge from HMRC, a matter involving holiday pay and national minimum wage issues, and acting for National Parcel Courier in negotiations between the senior management team and a leading trade union, a matter totalling £30m in value. Practice head Jon Taylor is ‘a good lawyer with sound judgement and an ability to inspire confidence in clients’. The ‘sound and sensible’ Louise Holder focuses on complex discrimination matters, and Peter Thompson has strong experience acting for major employers in high-profile disputes.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett)’s team advises on the employment aspects of managing projects, frequently handling redundancies and TUPE situations, and also deals with personal employment issues for high-net worth individuals. The group has a broad range of sector specialisms, regularly handling work for clients in the charity, construction, technology and pharmaceutical industries, and often draws on its cross-disciplinary strengths in the corporate and commercial, family and dispute resolution spheres when resolving issues. Key figure Richard Devall specialises in business immigration, inbound investment and employment issues arising out of outsourcings and M&A activity; Devall, along with solicitors Ed Marchant and Harry Abrams recently acted for the management team of Sabio in a management buyout totalling £50m, advising on leaver provisions, restrictive covenants and service agreements. Team head Justin Govier is recommended for matters involving restructuring, global expansion programmes and international and pan-European HR. The firm also has a strong contentious employment practice, handling claims related to whistleblowing, unfair dismissal and discrimination. Hertz, Robsons Estate Agents and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals are among key current clients.

Shoosmiths LLP’s national practice works closely with its tax, commercial, pensions and regulatory departments to provide full-service employment advice to its extensive client base, which includes names such as StubHub, Cranfield University, The White Company and Ann Summers. The firm frequently handles matters in the Employment Tribunal, and has particular expertise in handling sensitive senior executive exits and enforcement of post-termination obligations concerning former employees. Team head Gwynneth Tan advises businesses and individuals across the public and private sectors, and is especially noted for her experience in the retail and higher education sectors. Other key individuals include senior associates Simon Fennell and Sarah Lovell; Fennell has a strong interest in high court litigation and is a member of the business immigration sub-unit, and Lovell deals with the full range of contentious and non-contentious work, having recently handled a complex multi-party discrimination claim. Lovell also acts as the interim head of the business immigration team, advising on the implications of the Brexit vote on EU citizens, and successfully assisting various clients with immigration issues.

Blaser Mills’ team provides ‘service of the highest quality throughout each matter’, and ‘responds quickly to messages, making the client feel valued at all times’. The firm’s employment department acts for both nationwide and overseas clients, advising across the full gamut of contentious and non-contentious issues including TUPE issues, restrictive covenants and discrimination and whistleblowing claims. The group is particularly noted for its expertise in the freight and logistics, recruitment, software and waste management sectors, among others, and has recently picked up a number of new clients in the IT and pharmaceutical industries. Highlights included acting for PSV Glass in harmonising staff contracts, policies and procedures across its domestic and international offices, and advising Qubix International on an employee share scheme. ‘Tenacious’ associate Jasmin Dhillon provides ‘faultless strategy from start to finish in a friendly and professional manner’. Colin Smith leads the department.

Debenhams Ottaway has ‘excellent industry knowledge supported by strong business acumen’, and ‘the strength within the firm’s practice results in very good value for money’. The team acts for owner-managed and family businesses, SME’s and individuals, advising on the full range of issues including redundancy, restructurings, settlement agreements and disciplinary matters. Practice head Louise Attrup is ‘highly knowledgeable, reassuring and able to explain complex matters in a clear and concise manner’. Attrup specialises in restrictive covenants and data theft, and has a strong focus on the recruitment sector; she is currently representing leading recruitment agency Brook Street in a claim brought by a temporary worker regarding race discrimination, whistleblowing and unfair dismissal. Associate solicitor Michael Kerrigan advises individual and commercial clients, and is recommended for social media issues and the protection of confidential information post-dismissal. Other clients include Life Opportunities Trust, St Martha’s School and Swift Technical Group.

Longmores Solicitors LLP’s team provides ‘an excellent service in terms of the best course of action, responsiveness and overall personal interaction’. The practice is noted for its strength in the recruitment and education sectors, and regularly acts for major recruitment companies and independent schools on the full gamut of employment issues, including competition and restrictive covenant matters and injunction remedies, where the firm has particular expertise. Senior partner Richard Gvero heads the practice and regularly assists businesses with reorganisation and redundancy, staffing issues, TUPE matters and the employment aspects of commercial contracts, along with all types of employment disputes. Office head Catrin Mills has significant experience representing media and education sector clients in contentious matters, and represents high-profile companies, along with senior and board level employees, in the Employment Tribunal. Mills provides ‘clear, sound advice’ and ‘explains all available options’. The firm is currently representing Harrington Properties, a groundworks construction and property development company, in a £450,000 claim brought by a former management consultant.

Machins Solicitors LLP’s client base spans the public and private sectors, and the firm maintains strong links with businesses in the transport industry, where it advises SMEs, HR teams and business owners and directors based nationally and abroad. The practice is developing a niche specialism in senior executive and shareholder disputes, and is also strong in business advisory and transactional employment matters. On the business advisory side, the team advises a growing client base on the full range of issues, including employee appointment and dismissal, TUPE issues, collective redundancies and senior executive hires. The department is led by Jackie Cuneen, ‘an all-round good lawyer with excellent client skills’, who ‘demonstrates great understanding and sensitivity towards clients’ situations’, and whose ‘expert knowledge and expertise of discrimination law is of the highest standard’. Robert Bedford specialises in dispute resolution and has substantial experience representing all types of clients at tribunal; he is a trustee of the Luton Citizen’s Advice Bureau, which he advises on the full range of employment issues. Solicitor John Carter advises employer clients on injunctive relief, damages related to breach of confidentiality, intellectual property theft and restrictive covenants. The team handled a high volume of settlement agreements following continued rounds of redundancies by some of the principal employers in the South East region.

SA Law LLP provides ‘a service which is excellent in every detail’, with ‘great response times, sound industry knowledge and advice appropriate to the sector where the client operates’. The team has notable specialisms in the employment agency and education sectors, and regularly advises on immigration and employer protection. In a recent highlight, the group achieved a successful settlement with an employee on long-term sick leave who alleged unlawful deduction of wages and holiday pay, along with race and disability discrimination. The firm is also advising a well-known higher education establishment, which was the subject of a Home Office inspection where several non-compliances were observed, primarily related to non-EEA students working over maximum permitted hours; the team successfully secured permission for the client to retain its sponsorship license. Practice head Chris Cook is currently acting for a cosmetics and pharmaceuticals manufacturer in connection with a company-wide reorganisation, a matter involving several tribunal and potential High Court claims for unfair dismissal, gender and disability discrimination and breach of contract. Senior associate Keely Rushmore manages relationships with several longstanding clients, including St Paul’s Cathedral.

The ‘invariably helpful’ team at Sherrards Solicitors LLP is ‘very knowledgeable, calm, approachable and punctual’, and ‘is able to effectively reassure the client during times of pressure’. The practice has particular expertise in the retail, recruitment and franchising sectors, where it provides support on the employment aspects of business mergers and acquisitions. The group also works closely with the litigation department, representing employers at tribunal and the High Court in domestic and international matters, where it is able to draw on the strength of the firm’s French and Chinese desks. Practice head Mark Fellows and key partner Joanne Perry are ‘extremely practical employment lawyers who always go the extra mile’, Geraldine Fabre is dual-qualified in England and France, acts for a mix of SMEs, investors, multinational companies and plc’s, and has notable expertise in cross-border transactions. Recent highlights include acting for the founder shareholders of Foreign Currency Exchange in the sale of share capital to Global Reach Partners, a transaction backed by Inflexion Private Equity, and advising Winkworth Franchising on the employment aspects of various corporate and commercial activity, including a number of acquisitions and disposals. Other key clients include Berry Recruitment, Topgolf and Air Business.

The team at Tees Law provides ‘outstanding levels of service’, ‘brilliant value for money’, and ‘advice which is spot on – they don’t make any mistakes, even if the client has different ideas’. The firm has specialisms in the education, agricultural and professional services sectors, handling the full gamut of employment matters along with niche issues within the practice area, civil aviation suspensions and fitness to practise cases being among these. Practice head Robert Whitaker divides his time between Chelmsford, Cambridge and Bishop’s Stortford, and is ‘very flexible and responsive, going above and beyond for each client’. Associate Katherine Jameson has significant expertise in restrictive covenants, settlement agreements and disciplinary and grievance investigations. The group recently handled a disability discrimination claim on behalf of a partially-sighted client, successfully obtaining damages for injury to feelings at tribunal. On the employer side, the group assists Public Fundraising Regulatory Association with various mergers and TUPE issues.

Turbervilles is ‘a well-rounded firm that can provide a full service’ and ‘commands respect among practitioners, opponents and clients’. The group acts for claimant and respondent clients in claims and appeals, and advises businesses and individuals on the full range of employment issues, including redundancy and restructuring. Contentious employment is a key area of strength, and the firm has significant experience handling boardroom disputes, executive terminations, employment tribunals and settlement agreements, most notably in the education, real estate, retail and engineering sectors. Practice head Marc Jones is ‘at the top of his game – bright, responsive, commercial and cares passionately about delivering value to his clients’. Robert Dixon is ‘a thoughtful, reliable practitioner who explains issues in a way that is simple to understand’. Recent work included representing Viviana Santos Gomes in an appeal against a refusal to award damages for injury to feelings.

The ‘amenable and professional’ group at VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) provides ‘practical advice, and an impeccable level of communication and support’. The department has strengthened its client relationships in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, and also acts for longstanding clients including European Healthcare and Galderma. Other areas of activity include energy, recruitment, telecoms and higher education, and the department has picked up a number of university clients over the past year. Highlights including representing Westminster Homecare in proceedings concerning an employee’s right to transfer their employment despite being removed from the client’s contract, a complex case argued before the Watford Employment Tribunal. The team also represents Megaman UK in an ongoing dispute with its former managing director, who claims unfair dismissal. Key figures include Michael Delaney, whose areas of expertise includes TUPE, restrictive covenant enforcement and boardroom disputes; Michael Halsey, who handles outsourcing and discrimination claims; and Bettina Rigg, who is ‘extremely efficient, accurate and practical, all of which gives the client great confidence’.

Freeths LLP’ ‘excellent’ practice is known for its expertise in food and drinks, education and the public sector, where it advises on the full extensity of employment matters, ranging from TUPE issues, exiting directors and training management to complex tribunal claims. ‘Highly supportive’ practice head Christopher Sing is ‘always able to answer queries and give a good overall view of the situation’. In a recent highlight, Sing represented Sports and Leisure Management in tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing, an ongoing matter with significant implications for the client’s business. The practice is also providing strategic advice to 2 Sisters Food Group in pay negotiations with 900 staff and a trade union, and is representing the same client in a number of unfair dismissal claims in the Employment Tribunal. Other notable longstanding clients include Luton Airport, Royal Shakespeare Company and Oxford Brookes University.

Howes Percival LLP’s team has ‘an absolute understanding of the clients’ business requirements’ and is ‘often able to respond within minutes of a question being raised’. The practice gained several new client wins in the automotive, and food and drink sectors in the last year, and has particular expertise in TUPE issues, complex tribunal claims and employment issues arising out of high-value transactions. In a recent highlight, the team advised Clare James Automotive on the employment aspects of its sale of 11 dealer sites to Sytner Group, a matter involving TUPE consultation. Paula Bailey heads the department, and Simon deMaid is the other key figure.

The ‘business-focused’ team at Moorcrofts LLP has strong experience in niche and general areas of employment law, and provides ‘excellent response times along with clear, concise and practical advice’. The firm handles organisational restructurings, dismissals, alternative dispute resolution and employment tribunals for clients nationwide, and works collaboratively with the corporate and IT departments to provide a full-service offering. The team was strengthened by the arrival of Matt Jenkin, who heads the practice and is ‘extremely pragmatic’ and ‘gets straight to the points that matter in a cost-effective and efficient way’. Other key figures include Sally Nesbitt, who advises on business restructuring and discrimination matters, and Nicola Whelan, who focuses on restrictive covenants, TUPE issues and the employment aspects of social media.

Nockolds Solicitors advises a wide range of clients, including start-up businesses and major plc’s, and frequently acts for high net-worth individuals in the financial sector. The team works closely with the firm’s corporate practice, handling the TUPE aspects of major sales and acquisitions, and also assists the property and litigation departments in shareholder and director disputes. Practice head Darren Hayward has notable expertise in acting for high net-worth individuals in contentious matters. Gary Smith handles all forms of employment litigation in the public and private sectors with a particular focus on discrimination claims.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s ‘excellent’ practice provides ‘helpful, insightful and timely support’ and ‘advice which is pragmatically commercial’. The team is noted for its strength in major reorganisations, restructurings and large-scale TUPE transfers, and acts primarily on the employer side. Aye Limbin Glassey advises privately owned family businesses and large plc’s on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment matters. The ‘responsive and commercially astute’ Jon Heuvel stands out for his ability to ‘apply principles to real-life situations in the industry’. Highlights included assisting Focus Hotels Management with the employment aspects of several hotel sales, advising on employee transfer and due diligence.

Woodfines LLP’s group provides ‘an excellent service for difficult matters’. The firm has a strong contentious claims settlement practice and also advises on drafting contracts and staff handbooks, document preparation, settlement agreements and changes to employment law. Andrew Buckley frequently represents trade unions and employees in a range of claims, including unfair dismissal and discrimination, while also handling disciplinary and grievance issues. Senior associate Maria Gallucci is the name to note in Milton Keynes, and her areas of expertise include TUPE transfers, redundancy issues, settlement agreements and High Court employment matters.

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Legal Developments in South East for Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx

  • TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

    I have been asked to cover the topic of Employment law within my half an hour speaking slot today. I have narrowed my subject down to Transfer of Undertakings and Discrimination, with the focus on providing an update on the recent spate of cases on service provision change and on the important developments in the law of age discrimination. Needless to say, in my presentation I shall not be able to cover the level of detail which is contained in my written paper, which I will leave you to read.
    - 11KBW

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