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Top of the classBevan Brittan LLP provides ‘prompt and tailored’ employment advice to public sector bodies, including those from the health sector, local governments and housing associations, but also undertakes work for a broad range of clients from the private sector. The ‘excellent’ practice, which is ‘the equal of any in the field and better than most’, undertakes work in the voluntary and independent health and social care sector, and also acts for the NHS. The team’s expertise ranges from advising on performance management and governance to providing the full spectrum of operational and strategic employment law matters. Its local government service advises on, among other issues, robust staffing models, senior level disputes and departures (regularly handling politically sensitive senior level terminations), restructuring and redundancy programmes, and complex employment tribunal claims. Clients include Canada Life, the 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust and the London Borough of Wandsworth. London-based partner Jodie Sinclair heads the practice. Julian Hoskins led the advice to the board of an NHS Trust on the dismissal of a consultant who had been arrested for possession of indecent images of children. Sarah Lamont, who is recommended alongside ‘natural HR lawyer’ and associate Jane Wallenstein as a ‘brilliant lawyer’, defended 52 fire and rescue authorities against claims which alleged pension reforms to be discriminatory.

Bond Dickinson LLP provides ‘very good’ legal advice on major restructuring projects and industrial relations, and is also adept at handling high-profile litigation matters with multiple claimants. It was appointed by TSB to handle employment litigation and offer support on more general HR matters. Headed by Tim Woodward and Joanne Boyle, who are both ‘good at providing strategic commercial advice’, the team’s caseload shows a strong sector specialisation, with expertise in retail, financial services, insurance, energy and fast moving consumer goods. The Post Office, Sainsbury’s, Historic England, Plymouth Community Homes and GDS Publishing/GDS International are clients. Boyles is also recommended for ‘her approach to handling very complex claims’, such as the work done for Ernest Jones & H Samuel (Signet Trading) which the team advised on several tribunal claims, including zero value settlements, and assisted with complex HR and employment relations matters, notably regarding whistleblowing and discrimination. As employment panel advisor for AIG, the team provides employment advice and litigation support for businesses insured under AIG’s relaunched PrivateEdge Policy. Another highlight was advising TSB on complex and sensitive grievance matters and tribunal claims. The group is also noted for its Manager Training Programme, a front-line training aimed at improving performance and manage risk which is used by Cotswold Outdoor and Snow + Rock.

Burges Salmon LLP advises major employers across the UK on the full range of employment law. The practice is renowned for ‘displaying consummate knowledge and pragmatism’, combining an ‘overall excellent level of service’ with ‘strength in depth’. It has established a multijurisdictional network of independent law firms as part of its international strategy. Led by Chris Seaton and ‘clear, effective communicator’ practice head Roger Bull, the group defended John Lewis Partnership against complex claims of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal brought by a former employee, involving allegations against a large number of senior managers. Other highlights included advising Thomson Reuters on changes to its European Works Council, in particular on the implications of EU law and on the structure and operation of the Council, which is made up of union and other employee representatives from across Europe. The team excels at handling complex cross-border matters, such as advising BAE systems on a major project concerning the management of regulatory and security obligations, which required, under the leadership of Adrian Martin, the coordination of legal advice from 32 countries. It also advised Virgin Active on the employment issues arising from the sale of up to 35 gyms and health clubs, which involved the TUPE transfer of over 3,000 employees. Luke Boweryhas detailed knowledge and experience’. Clients include the Bank of Ireland and Mulberry.

DAC Beachcroft LLP provides a broad range of employment services to clients, including FTSE 100 companies, from a diverse range of sectors such as healthcare, insurance and public services. It has expertise in advising NHS health organisations and private health sector clients, representing large global insurers and acting for local authorities as well as regulatory bodies. Led by Alex Lock, the practice also handles complex advisory and transactional work. Katy Horner was involved in several recent high-profile matters, including representing the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust in the Employment Appeal Tribunal Case of McTigue v University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and successfully defending the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust against a rare application for ‘interim relief’ in respect of a former employee. In another Employment Tribunal-related highlight, the group represented North Bristol NHS Trust, in Nursing & Midwifery Council and another v Harrold, successfully securing a general civil restraint order against a claimant who had brought a large number of claims against the NHS Trust. Joanne Owers, who has ‘excellent listening skills’ and ‘delivers innovative and workable solutions, joined from Fox Williams LLP while Simon Lambert left to work for the Centregreat Group. Clients include Dixons Carphone and Zurich Insurance.

Osborne Clarke is adept at handling major cross-border employment matters, including matters involving complex jurisdictional questions. The practice works for clients from a variety of sectors, including digital business, energy and natural resources, real estate and infrastructure, retail, financial services, defence, manufacturing, bioscience and recruitment. The team has experience in handling complex claims before the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal, also providing strategic advice to clients looking to receive business protection advice, including advice on team moves, restructurings and redundancy exercises. Another area of expertise is assisting with TUPE issues arising from the acquisition and disposal of companies and contract appointments. London-based Victoria Parry heads the practice. Julian Hemming led the advice to Indian company Tech Mahindra on British and Spanish employment law issues in relation to the client’s IT outsourcing deal with International Airlines Group. The practice further demonstrated its strength in cross-border matters when it provided US-American client Deckers Brands with coordinated advice on employment issues across its major European operations, including France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Italy. Recent work includes advising Caledonia Investments on the employment aspects of its multimillion-pound acquisition of part of the business Gala Bingo, carrying out employment due diligence, advising on employment warranties and disclosures, as well as drafting and negotiating service agreements for the management team. Another highlight was advising Western Power Distribution on its HR and employment law issues for the Midlands, South West and Wales, including successfully representing the client at a number of Employment Tribunal Cases and advising on a range of TUPE issues. Paul Killen heads the practice. Greg Chambers was promoted to associate director. Senior associate Elizabeth Williamson joined Accenture.

TLT undertakes complex advisory work, including on issues relating to TUPE, large-scale reorganisations, whistleblowing, restrictive covenants and industrial relations. The team has experience in handling board-level exits as well as benefits scheme-related matters. ‘Star’ associate Siobhan Fitzgerald, who gives ‘unequivocal and balanced advice’, advised a large housing association on its negotiations with a trade union, interpreted the collective agreements with that union, and assisted with senior exits as well as with changes to key terms and conditions for the entire staff. Practice head Stuart McBride acted for Brothers Drinks Company on the employment aspects of its multimillion-pound acquisition of a historic cider production site, negotiating the provisions of the sale and purchase agreement. Another highlight was providing training and support on the new Senior Manager Regime for the in-house staff of two major high street retail banks, including advice on updating the contracts for senior staff and whistleblowing. The practice operates across a range of sectors, with a particular focus on retail, financial services and housing; clients include Imperial Tobacco, Sainsbury’s, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and Symphony Housing. Esther Smith is ‘commercial’ and gives ‘business-focused advice’.

Ashfords LLP has vast experience in the retail and private healthcare sectors. The practice is adept at handling tribunal and High Court litigation, notably in disability discrimination claims, providing commercial and corporate business support. A particular area of strength is handling disability discrimination claims. Clients include recruitment group New Directions, ARAG and the Institute of Ecology. Bristol-based practice head Stephen Moore advised the Post Office on a range of matters, such as TUPE issues, the drafting of employment documents and negotiating settlement agreements. The team also acted for Bluebird Care in relation to potential and actual Employment Tribunal claims. It also regularly advises McDonald’s franchisees on all aspects of employment law, including potential and actual Employment Tribunal claims, disciplinary actions, drafting various staff and disciplinary policies, and immigration. The group was also instructed by a private individual to handle a whistleblowing, disability discrimination, and unfair dismissal claim, obtaining an outstandingly high £1,2m in tribunal awards.

Clarke Willmott LLP offers ‘excellent service’ in a combination of employment law and HR consultancy services. The ‘pragmatic’ team offers advice to a variety of clients, with a niche expertise in advising clients from the education and sports sectors. ‘Very experienced’ practice head Kevin Jonesprovides rock-solid employment advice’; his recent high-profile mandates include advising Bristol Rugby on the termination of their director of rugby, laying out the strategy for the termination and negotiating its terms. Sharon Latham heads the Bristol team and led on several key cases, including advising over 100 Post Office employees on settlement agreements following large-scale redundancies. Senior associate Tim Copplestone is ‘calm and authoritative’, provides ‘exceptional service’ and ‘knows what professional sports clients’ needs are’. He assisted a subsidiary of Jiangsu Guotai International Group with setting up a business platform in the UK for the European market, providing a broad range of services to the client, including business immigration and employment documentation advice, working with the practice’s Chinese counsellor. The group was also instructed by Bridgwater College to advise on its merger with Somerset College, handling all TUPE-related aspects, including due diligence, trade union consultation, warranties and indemnities, and the exit of the senior management team pre-merger. Post-merger, the practice advised on a significant reorganisation programme, involving collective consultations with trade unions and the work council.

The ‘very goodFoot Anstey provides ‘practical, supportive and prompt employment advice’ on strategic and operational issues to regional, national and international clients. The ‘succinct’ and ‘very personable’ Richard Neary specialises in acting for employers on matters ranging from the enforcement of covenants and consultations in the context of collective redundancies to TUPE transfers. The practice has experience in advising on the employment aspects of corporate acquisitions, contractual documentation, and changes to remuneration structures and their implementation, including carrying out large scale audits of HR operations. It represented Halfords in tribunal claims and acted for it on complex employment issues, including TUPE outsourcing. Another highlight was representing Hinduja Global Solutions UK in a series of tribunal claims and providing ongoing advice on employment law issues, particularly in relation to pension issues, including TUPE and public sector pension considerations. The team also assisted Hinduja with tactical advice on government contracts under public procurement and with two large-scale inward TUPE transfers. Clients include Kingfisher, Odeon Cinemas, Torbay Council, TNT and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Exeter-based Karen Bates heads the practice. Senior associate Nick Davies is recommended.

Thrings LLP is renowned for providing a very good level of service and ‘building good relationships with clients’. The team advises on contentious tribunal and High Court claims, provides strategic advice on the management and restructuring of companies, including high-value mergers, offers corporate support on the employment aspects of sales and acquisitions of companies, and has handled high-profile sensitive cases relating to gangmasters licensing as well as offences under the Modern Slavery Act. Particular areas of strength are discrimination claims, claims for injunctive relief in regard to team moves, board-level exit strategies, TUPE, and collective redundancies. Expertise also covers business immigration and employee relations. The practice has an online HR consultancy service. Practice head Kerrie Hunt has experience in handling unfair dismissal claims as well as disability discrimination claims, sexual harassment claims, and claims related to dismissal due to pregnancy or maternity. AirTanker Services, Dynamatic Limited UK, Centurycomm and Denhay Farms.

Recommended as ‘supremely efficient’ and ‘thorough as well as responsive’, VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) has ‘a very well-respected’ educational employment practice, but also undertakes work for commercial clients, charities, and clients from the public sector. A particular specialism is advising on academy conversions. The team also acts for clients from the public sector, such as local authorities and emergency services, in high-value employment litigation. Other work for emergency services includes the interpretation of the regulations governing the Firefighters’ Pensions Scheme, handling industrial relations and restructurings, as well as day-to-day advisory work. Simon Bevan is ‘a relaxed and very commercial’, ‘enormously reassuring’ ‘go-to presence’, and practice head Gareth Edwards provides ‘very creative and successful strategies’. The ‘clever and commercialNaseem Nabi is ‘a good leader’, and Alice Reeve and Allison Cook are ‘well respected’. The group advised Haberdashers Monmouth Schools on complex employment tribunal claims of unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction from wages. Another highlight was successfully defending the Harpur Trust, a charity encompassing four independent schools, against an employment tribunal claim involving the calculation of holiday pay for term-time only workers and less favourable treatment on the grounds of part-time status.

Burroughs Day LLP is ‘well known for providing robust advice’ to both individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises. The practice undertakes work for individuals mostly in high-net-worth matters and complex cases, with a particular focus on work for non-unionised individuals. Its commercial clients are from a range of sectors, including construction, IT and charity, advising on the whole range of employment law services, including full HR support. Discrimination-related matters are a particular focus, acting in cases relating to age, sex, pregnancy and maternity, race, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. Another area of strength is representing clients in social care, dentistry and pharmacy, where the group handles safeguarding issues, carries out internal employment investigations and advises on all regulatory and employment issues. Practice head Julia Beasley is ‘tenacious and fights for her clients’.

Humphreys & Co. handles unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination claims, disciplinary and other internal procedures, TUPE issues, and post-termination restrictions. The team is particularly strong in acting for claimants, but also represents respondents. The practice’s caseload includes advocacy in a variety of employment tribunal claims and it has experience in acting in High Court, County Court and Employment Appeal Tribunal cases. Practice head Stephen Burbidge is ‘clear and smart’, ‘adept at quickly understanding very complex scenarios’ and ‘offers a balanced perspective’.

Excellent’ boutique firm Menzies Law delivers ‘soundly commercial’ and ‘straightforward, pragmatic advice’ to clients from the manufacturing, education, logistics and facility management sectors. Further education colleges make up a large portion of the the client base. Practice head and director Luke Menzies has a reputation for providing advice that is ‘very clearly articulated’ and senior solicitor Anne-Marie Boyle is ‘a consummate professional’. The team has launched a gender pay gap and advice service. Recent work also includes advising South Downs College on major changes to its staff pay and other terms of employment. The group also supported the college during the ensuing strike by 170 lecturers, putting its knowledge in trade union and industrial action law to good use. Barrister Joanne Sefton led in defending South Gloucestershire and Stroud College in a constructive dismissal Employment Tribunal case with high reputational risks for the client.

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Legal Developments in South West for Employment: Bristol

  • 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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