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Ashfords LLP undertakes work in the full range of employment law, acting in both contentious and non-contentious matters. It is adept at handling tribunal litigation for local authorities and has experience in handling TUPE matters in relation to business sales, insolvency sales, and in private sector outsourcing projects for multinational companies. Another area of strength is advising on the HR and employment law aspects of international share purchases. The team, led by Bristol-based partner Stephen Moore, consists of ‘highly effective, very responsive, practical advisors’. Charles Pallot, who has ‘enormous breadth of knowledge and experience’, assisted Viridor Waste Management with a complex collective redundancy consultation process, and acted for national brewery group C&C Group on all the employment aspects of the disposal of its remaining business at the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill. This latter highlight included supporting the client in its relationship with unions and negotiating complex TUPE and related risk sharing issues. The practice is also representing the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in a complex claim for alleged constructive dismissal and disability discrimination brought forward by a former employee. ‘Highly practical’ senior associate Kirsty Cooke, whose case preparation is ‘second to none’, and ‘thorough’ legal director Su Apps are ‘clear and succinct’ as well as ‘very experienced and true specialists’. Clients include Mylan Group, HelloFresh, and Somerset Larder.

Clarke Willmott LLP provides employers ‘very good and commercially minded’ employment law advice on a broad range of issues, ranging from large-scale business restructuring to unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. It also offers a combined employment law and HR consultancy service. The ‘extremely strong’ practice demonstrates strength in acting for clients from the agricultural sector and is adept at representing clients before the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal and has experience in handling reputation-sensitive matters, including investigations and disciplinary procedures. It has experience in resolving matters through ACAS procedures. Bristol-based Kevin Jones heads the practice. The ‘energeticKate Gardner has ‘good business acumen’ and specialises in advising clients from the education and agricultural sectors, advising on disability and race discrimination claims, complex TUPE issues and agricultural occupancy rights. Associate Sarah Driscoll has ‘very good knowledge’ of her field.

Foot Anstey has in-depth knowledge of the employment law aspects of board level disputes and departures, as well as of restructuring arrangements including TUPE matters. It is adept at acting in complex discrimination tribunal claims and also advises on post-termination restrictive covenant issues. Clients include Kingfisher, Screwfix, DAS Insurance and Torbay Council. Karen Bates heads the practice following the departure of Matthew Huddleson to OTB Eveling in April 2017. Patrick Howarth recently represented Screwfix in five Employment Tribunal claims, some of which were particularly complex. The group also handled a series of matters for Halfords, which included advising the retailer on senior level exits, restructuring, salary as well as incentive issues, implementing new apprenticeship arrangements and tribunal litigation. James Collings, alongside Howarth, assisted Odeon Cinemas with intra-group secondments, cinema relocations, service provision changes, implementing the apprenticeship levy and the employment aspects of its sale to AMC Theatres.

Michelmores LLP provides employment law advice for a mix of private and public sector clients, in particular those active in the health and education sectors. It has experience in advising on the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment law, including senior executive termination matters, breach of covenant injunction claims, TUPE outsourcing issues, and high-profile discrimination and whistleblowing tribunal litigation matters, with particular strength in advising on the implementation of external investigations into such allegations. The practice was appointed to the National Police Legal Framework Panel to provide employment law support to the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) and a large number of other police and related public bodies nationally. Work undertaken for the Met included the defence of unfair dismissal and discrimination tribunal claims. Andrew Tobey heads the practice. James Baker has experience in advising on complex safeguarding claims and matters involving allegations of bullying, harassment and victimisation. Consultant Nikki Duncan is ‘a great tactician’ and has experience in handling sensitive and complex matters relating to the health sector. Clients include Enotria & Coe, the South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Carey Group.

Stephens Scown LLP is ‘a leader in the employment field’ that has ‘the resources needed to be able to deal with all queries’. The ‘excellent’ practice fields a team of ‘very knowledgeable, but practical’ lawyers who handle complex and high-profile employment issues relating to corporate matters and also conduct litigation work, including whistleblowing and discrimination cases as well as representations in front of professional regulatory body hearings. The team’s two Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)-certified HR professionals offer HR support to employer clients. The ‘first-rate’ practice has particular expertise in advising clients from the engineering, manufacturing and hi-tech sectors, but also acts for clients from a range of other industries. The ‘outstanding’ Terry Falcao, who is ‘very experienced and confident’, acted for German company BOWA Electronics on the employment aspects of a major purchase of share capital, which involved handling TUPE matters, hive-out redundancies, restrictive covenants, and due diligence. The ‘highly skilled’ Verity Slater, who ‘gives practical advice with clear recommendations and options’, advised Cornwall College Group on a number of issues, including disciplinary matters, restructuring and the harmonisation of terms of employment after the acquisition of Bicton College. Other highlights included defending a client against claims of unfair dismissal after a protected conversation with two employees and advising CMS Network on drafting and negotiating a postal and courier service outsourcing agreement with Time Inc.

Bond Dickinson LLP specialises in advising clients from the retail, financial services, insurance, energy and fast-moving consumer goods sectors. It is adept at handling restructuring and disciplinary matters, and offers day-to-day HR and employment law advice to employers. The practice was appointed to the AIG panel to advise several thousand insured businesses under the relaunched AIG PrivateEdge Policy, acting for them in employment litigation matters and providing general employment support. Bristol-based practice head Tim Woodward supports Plymouth Community Homes in its litigation, also providing strategic advice and assisting with complex grievance matters. The team also advised Meat and Livestock Commercial Services, an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board subsidiary, on significant TUPE issues and contracts at a number of abattoirs, also acting for it in several tribunal claims arising from TUPE transfers. Other recent highlights include successfully representing E-ACT, an independent academy sponsor for 24 state-funded academies across the country, in litigation claims for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal, and advising B&Q on a large volume of employment litigation, ranging from simple tribunal cases to complex and brand-sensitive cases, including successfully defending a disability discrimination action as well as whistleblowing and unfair dismissal allegations. The Post Office, Plymouth University and Sainsbury’s are other clients.

The ‘excellent’ and ‘very attentive’ team at Kitsons LLP provides employment law advice and HR support to a broad client base, with a particular focus on the education, healthcare, construction, leisure and tourism sectors. It has experience in handling senior-level exits as well as redundancy and restructuring processes, including attending collective consultation negotiations with trade unions, acting in whistleblowing claims and settlement agreements, and assisting with the employment law aspects of company mergers, share sales, and transfers of assets, in particular TUPE-related matters. Advising clients from the education sector on dismissals and complaint processes, including providing support to the respective governing bodies, is another area of strength. Other areas of expertise range from advising on investigations in relation to competing business activities of employees to providing ongoing advice and HR support to clients. Rhodri Davey heads the team. Jayme Nicholson is ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘very commercial in her thinking’. Clients include The Guild of Construction Workers, Duchy Group and Qualitest Software Testing.

Battens Solicitors Limited provides general day-to-day employment advice, but specialises in disciplinary grievances and disciplinary advocacy as well as in TUPE, restructurings and redundancy processes. It also has expertise in specialist employment contracts, including apprenticeship arrangements, bespoke commission and bonus policies, annualised or flexible hours clauses as well as service occupancy arrangements. Through its Employment Law and HR service, the team also delivers ongoing support to business clients, from advice on equal opportunities to issues relating to maternity leave and pay and shared parental leave. There is a strong focus on providing pre-litigation and preventative advice to employers, including performance management, directorship issues and termination negotiations. The team also assists employees with severance arrangements, internal employment issues such as discrimination issues, sickness absences and exit negotiations. Senior associate Dawn Gallie, who heads the department, is ‘a remarkable lawyer’ and ‘a credit to her profession’.

Nash & Co has ‘a strong reputation’, mostly focusing on providing employers with HR support, advising them on collective redundancies and handling TUPE procedures. It also acts in Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal matters. Managing partner Jon Loney is very experienced in trade union recognition, employee relation issues and restructuring. ‘Very commercially minded’ practice head Ian Grimshaw has ‘vast knowledge’ and a track record of handling large scale redundancies and multi-jurisdiction outsourcings. Karen Bussell has a reputation for preparing her cases ‘thoroughly and realistically’ and specialises, among other things, in advising high-net-worth employees on contractual terms negotiations and settlement agreements. Clients are mostly charities, manufacturing SMEs, and hotel, leisure or retail businesses, but also include schools, care homes and professional services providers. Oggy Oggy Pasty and the Cattewater Harbour Commission are clients.

Pardoes Solicitors LLP is a regional practice with a very good reputation for providing ‘advice that comes from an in-depth position of expertise and knowledge’. It advises employers and employees, in particular from the transport and insurance sector, on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues. The practice has a particular focus on handling transactional issues, TUPE-matters related to acquisitions and sales, as well as restructurings and business reorganisations, including redundancy processes. It was appointed to the Hinkley Professional Services Group to provide HR support to companies wanting to supply the Hinkley Point C construction project. The team also has experience in handling TUPE issues related to the acquisition of licensed premises as well as in advising on high-level exit scenarios for clients from both the public and the private sector. Practice head Maeve Vickery is ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and ‘highly professional’.

Porter Dodson LLP provides niche advice to employers from the care and medical sectors on all aspects of employment law, but also undertakes work for employees. It has particular expertise in advising on complex whistleblowing and discrimination claims and successfully represents respondents in tribunals. The team provides day-to-day HR advice for a variety of businesses ranging from manufacturers and professional services providers to care homes and GP surgeries, which it also advises on compliance with Care Quality Commission standards. It is adept at advising on disciplinary and grievance matters, and expertly handles issues relating to underperformance and sickness absences. Another area of strength is post-termination restrictive covenants, including enforcement action. Practice head Adrian Poole acted for a claimant in multiple whistleblowing detriment claims against an employer from the medical sector.

Tozers Solicitors LLP acts for commercial clients and charities, almost exclusively for respondents, but also undertakes work for clients from the public sector and senior employees. The ‘excellent’ and ‘extremely professional’ team has a particular focus on the housing sector, acting for a number of registered housing providers in relation to senior level exits, proposed mergers and day-to-day HR support. The team’s expertise also covers advising holiday and residential caravan parks as well as hotels. Stephen Jennings heads the practice and is ‘a calming influence’. The team’s recent caseload includes defending security and training company Mabway against a claim alleging breach of the minimum wage legislation, and advising The Guinness Partnership on a claim alleging multiple breaches of law, including unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, breach of data protection legislation, disability discrimination and breach of the Human Rights Act. Another highlight was successfully defending housing association Alliance Homes against a claim for unfair dismissal. Paul Kelly is recommended.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP is very adept at handling TUPE-related matters, including creating TUPE strategies and advising on high-value TUPE transfers. It regularly acts for registered providers on sensitive and high-value issues, supporting a large number of registered providers in particular during transformation processes. The team also supports charities and social enterprises with advice on disputes and exits of senior employees and excels in changing employment contract terms, in particular for clients in the care sector. Other areas of expertise include restructurings, including collective consultations, and defending clients against discrimination claims, in particular highly sensitive discrimination claims for sex, pregnancy, disability and age. John Turnbull heads the practice. ITS Western, Otter Nurseries, the London & Devonshire Trust, and Inter-Line Building Supplies are clients.

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Legal Developments in South West for Employment: The West Country

  • 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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