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Employment: employee/union firms in North West

Leigh Day

Leigh Day's highly experienced employment practice handles some of the largest and most high-profile matters in this area. The team, which frequently works with the firm's London office, is particularly noted for its work on equal pay disputes. The practice's strength in this area was demonstrated in March 2021 by its successful representation in the Supreme Court of over 40,000 ASDA employees in an equal pay claim made against the company. The team receives instructions from trade unions to represent their members; elsewhere, it also acts for senior executives in unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. Chris Benson, a key figure in the team, became managing partner in 2021. Lauren Lougheed and Linda Wong lead on the practice's equal pay work, while senior associate Mike Cain is highly regarded for his work on group and individual claims, with representing senior executives being a particular focus. Ryan Bradshaw is another key contact, offering broad expertise across areas including holiday pay litigation and whistleblowing.

Practice head(s):

Nigel MacKay; Emma Satyamurti; Lauren Lougheed; Linda Wong

Other key lawyers:

Chris Benson; Mike Cain; Ryan Bradshaw

Testimonials

‘The team is first class in developing legal and procedural strategies. As well as ensuring consistent throughput of work for clients, they regularly take on high quality work in fields such as high net worth clients and complex legal matters in both Tribunal and Civil Courts. They are incredibly flexible and offer great client care.’

‘Mike Cain has huge experience with a Trade Union and litigation background. He has recently developed several new lines of work, including high net worth individuals and a niche practice in discrimination claims against companies in the financial sector. He is open, straightforward and robust in his advice to clients and is not afraid of technically or factually difficult cases.’

‘Associate Solicitor Ryan Bradshaw was professional and incisive in his pro bono work for us. He delivered training on employment rights and legal remedies which was accessible and engaging, and it was evident that he tailored the topics and style for the audience. In arranging the training he was easy to contact, personable and reliable. Attendees have talked about how valuable his training was and how we would greatly benefit from further work from Ryan and from Leigh Day, and it regularly comes up in meetings and discussions.’

‘Mike Cain knew the right questions to ask during initial consultation, which was different to my experience with other firms I had approached. This showed his ability to see some of the intricacies of the case, that were easily missed, by other firms, at first glance. Where others were dismissive, without getting a full picture of the case or me, Mike took the time to understand and gain deeper insight into me, as well as the case. This proved to be helpful for the case and our working relationship. With limited time, Mike went above and beyond to secure representation.’

‘Ryan Bradshaw our main point of contact and a phenomenal solicitor. He always responds quickly. The qualities I particularly value is not only his wealth of knowledge about disability discrimination in employment law, but the extent to which he understands the complexities of our charitable work. He completely understands the specificities of the kinds of discrimination that the people we work with face. This understanding and sensitivity to the topic makes him very easy to work with. For example he may write an advice letter for someone’s employer and his language around the issues will be spot on, exactly as it would be within our sector but beyond what is expected by lawyers. He’s wonderful and I’m very grateful to work with him. ’

‘They are the premier claimant side employment team. They were the first firm to recognise the potential for class action style group litigation on a really massive national scale. They understand the importance of logistics in managing massive group claims. Their experience and knowledge makes them the stand out firm. They have revolutionised the industry.’

‘In the North West: Lauren Laugheed and Linda Wong are both absolutely outstanding. They are a formidable team and it is difficult to comment separately, but Lauren is incredibly focused on ensuring that everything that needs to be done is done. Her commitment and drive has been essential to the retail equal pay claims, the biggest employment claims ever seen in the UK. Linda is a great lawyer, devoted to securing the best outcome for her clients.’

‘Chris Benson, Michael Newman and Lina Wong are all superb. Chris and Michael have excellent strategic vision and Linda is completely on top of every aspect of her cases.’

Key clients

GMB

National Aids Trust

Over 40,000 largely female supermarket employees in ASDA Group equal pay claims

Ahmed & others v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited (Sainsbury’s Group Equal Pay Litigation)

Nationwide Group Holiday Pay Group Claims – Super Multiple

Nigel Furneaux v Strasdin Joinery

Rashid Nix v Green Party of England & Wales

Dr Zuzana Windle

Kwasi Afrifa v Goldman Sachs International

L v G

Work highlights

  • Acting for over 40,000 mostly female employees of ASDA in the largest ever private-sector equal pay claim in which we have received favourable judgments in the Appeal Court three times and now await the Supreme Court’s ruling on the highly significant issue of comparability.
  • Representing a number of senior executives, in particular on executive termination and complex discrimination claims in the finance and legal sectors, such as the representation of Kwasi Afrifa against Goldman Sachs.
  • Managing ongoing group litigation in the Employment Tribunal on behalf of several hundred GMB members and others in the infrastructure sector in relation to historic and ongoing underpayments of holiday pay.

Brabners LLP

Brabners LLP is experienced in advising senior executives and directors on contentious employment matters, encompassing unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and discrimination claims. The practice also assists senior employees with negotiating exit agreements, and acts for groups of employees facing redundancies. The team has a particular focus on the sports sector, acting for players, managers and senior employees of clubs and governing bodies. Nick Campbell and Lydia Edgar jointly lead the team, with Simon Whitehead and Lee Jefcott also active in this area.

Practice head(s):

Lydia Edgar; Nick Campbell

Other key lawyers:

Simon Whitehead; Lee Jefcott; Lindsey Knowles

Testimonials

‘I found the practice is exceptionally experienced in the area required. I had spoken to other firms who I found more aggressive in their nature towards my former employer, which I believe, would have led to a very different, and negative outcome for me. Brabners LLP, and Nick in particular, were far more measured and balanced at a time when I needed that the most.’

‘Brabners LLP is an excellent practice. From the very start, my employment case has been dealt with the upmost professionalism. The employment team that I have worked with at Brabners has not only always delivered the best advice but they have also shown a great understanding of my personal circumstances which has given me the confidence I needed. Everyone that I have dealt with have been extremely helpful and with their excellent knowledge of employment law I have always felt that I am in the best hands. Any costs have also been made very clear beforehand which is important. I would most definitely recommend this company as one to use when it comes to employment law and disability discrimination, they know what they are doing.’

‘The firm genuinely places the clients at the heart of everything they do.’

‘Worked closely with Nick Campbell on an employment settlement agreement and exit. Whilst cost was significantly more than anticipated, Nick’s advice and support was excellent throughout. This was a very stressful event in my career and Nick acted with a high level of emotional intelligence and was careful not to push me excessively but lead me carefully to an appropriate outcome. Personal support was excellent.’

‘From our first meeting Lindsey Knowles our solicitor treated us as partners , we were kept up to date, every aspect of our comprehensive and at times confusing employment law case was explained to us. Every minute detail was explained in a way that we understood, Lindsey was patient and guided us expertly through every aspect of our case. Lindsey Knowles is an exceptional Solicitor, an expert in her field and we would recommend her and her team/ firm to anyone considering taking legal advice.’

‘Simon Whitehead is very knowledgeable and applies strategic solutions. Has a lovely manner with clients and conveys calmness in difficult situations and is very supportive with his professional advice.’

‘Simon Whitehead at Brabners was a trusted partner, who provided pragmatic and sound advice. He took the time to educate me on the intricacies of my case, and gave me the confidence to move forward, knowing that i was professionally supported to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Not only did Simon support me, but also provided broader recommendations on specialist advice, which was joined up at all times and all done in a way where service and responsiveness was first class.’

‘Nick Campbell is the stand out partner to mention. I mentioned above his balance and measured approach. I also found that I could have a true dialogue with him at all times. In sensitive matters my views were fully taken on board and I felt as though I had a partner and a friend in the journey. Nick allowed me to set the pace alongside him, and allowed me to voice my concerns at all times, and then gave me the confidence to proceed knowing that he was in support at all times. The value of this cannot be under estimated during such a difficult period. I am certain it could have been far more traumatic with another practice with less experience.’

Gorvins Solicitors

In addition to representing employees in contentious matters, such as unfair dismissal and discrimination claims, Gorvins Solicitors also provides advice on contracts of employment and exit agreements. Many of the team's clients are senior executives, and it also acts for groups of employees in redundancies. Practice head David Walton is experienced in a broad range of employment matters, and is noted for his work as an advocate before employment tribunals. Danielle Ayres is also a key partner in the team, and is noted for her expertise in pregnancy and maternity discrimination. Associate Nyaradzo Nyakatawa is praised by clients.

Practice head(s):

David Walton

Other key lawyers:

Danielle Ayres; Nyaradzo Nyakatawa

Testimonials

‘My experience was strictly on a disability / pregnancy discrimination related claim and I dealt with the partner, Danielle Ayres. She has a very deep and specific knowledge of this area of employment and is an exceptionally gifted and thoughtful advocate for her clients.’

‘Gorvins provide a free advice service for our beneficiaries. We work with women who have experienced pregnancy and maternity discrimination and part of our work is a free legal advice service, staffed by employment solicitors from Gorvins. When we established this service we had various reservations and concerns about the women feeling pressured to take legal action, or feeling pressured to work with Gorvins in the future, but none of those concerns have come to fruition. They offer an excellent advice service free of charge to thousands of vulnerable pregnant women and new mums.’

‘Gorvins is an excellent Employment Team that has successfully raised its profile from a local to a national firm. It has a diverse team that offers reliable and relatable employment law advice. The use of social media to connect with a winder audience and build client base is impressive. I also consider the firm to care about its clients and goes the extra mile.’

‘I was struck by how the firm treated me with so much humanity and understanding. I sought legal help with great trepidation and worried about someone not understanding the sensitivity of my case. I was disarmed and impressed by the professionalism, swiftness in contact and constant updates as well as the kindness and empathy.’

‘Danielle Ayres is an exceptional solicitor with a very deep knowledge of her area of the law. She has an extremely empathetic understanding of her clients situations and I always felt both my emotional and legal problems were taken into account as the case progressed.’

‘David Walton, my key contact, kept me well informed about progress, gave clear timelines that he adhered to with regard responses and completion of the work and took the initiative to check-in with me periodically to monitor status of discussions I was responsible for with a 3rd party. He and his team demonstrated a degree of care and interest beyond just getting the job done which gave me added confidence in the outcome.’

‘I was represented by Danielle Ayre, whose professionalism, directness and sensitivity to my case really impressed me and instilled me with confidence. She went above and beyond to ensure I was not harmed professionally by my workplace.’

‘Danielle Ayres is a pregnancy/maternity specialist who, through the use of social media and hard work, has raised significant awareness in this area and provided much-needed help to countless women. She is an astute lawyer who I rate for her legal acumen as well as her empathy and commitment to clients. She has great judgement and I value her as a voice for change within sex discrimination.’

Kuit Steinart Levy LLP

Under the leadership of Kevin McKenna, Kuit Steinart Levy LLP advises groups of employees and individuals on employment matters. In 2020, the team's tribunal work ranged from handling breach of contract claims to assisting employees involved in disciplinary issues. The practice also advises on complex matters involving whistleblowing.

Practice head(s):

Kevin McKenna

Other key lawyers:

Sally Bird; Mark McKeating; Lauren Ogden

Testimonials

‘Kevin McKenna was brilliant, always available, sage advice and friendly. In a tough personal situation he was calming and gave me the confidence and advice I needed. Highly valued and highly recommended. ’

‘My dealings with everybody at KSL have been absolutely professional and reassuring during what has been a very difficult time in my life. At the outset I was aware of the fact that KSL are more expensive than other law firms; but am now certain that it will be worth it if/when I get the outcome which I am hoping for. As my dad used to say; “pay cheap, pay dear” and I truly believe that not going elsewhere for a cheaper deal was the best decision. Even during the pandemic, with cancelled tribunal after tribunal, both Kevin McKenna and Lauren Ogden have clearly and sympathetically explained my potions and given me sound advice.’

‘From our first meeting, over a year ago, Kevin McKenna and Lauren Ogden have been totally supportive of my case. They have always been available to me, especially when I have become upset or overwhelmed by the situation which I have found myself in. Lauren is especially empathetic to my plight and has really helped me deal with what has been an incredibly upsetting time. She always calls me to advise of any money due for payment and this has been very helpful in being able to pay for their exceptional service. I feel that both Kevin and Lauren have gone over and above their remit for me and am confident that they always have my best interests at heart. I really don’t know what I would have done without their help and support.’

‘Kuits as a firm of lawyers are extremely competent, and give straight advice – client care being utmost in that advice. The employment team wholly reflects that culture. ’

‘Kevin McKenna in particular is extremely strong in his field. At a professional level, Kevin is technically strong and is able to provide balanced views, but concludes those views with clear and precise advice with good reasoning in the context. On a personal level, I have a debt of gratitude to Kevin who steered me through a very difficult period in my career. The outcome being hugely successful. I would have no hesitation in recommending Kevin and his team and wish them the best of luck.’

‘Very professional and knowledge of the employment area. Easy to contact and always available and always a prompt response’

‘Both the partner and his assistant were easy to deal with and the outcome was above my expectations. My family are now using their Family Law department and would recommend them to family, friends and business colleagues.’

Linder Myers

Linder Myers counts senior executives, directors and other employees amongst its clients, representing them in tribunals claims involving alleged unfair dismissal, discrimination and non-payment. The team is also highly active in acting for groups of employees in disputes related to redundancies, such as protective awards and unfair dismissal claims. Alan Lewis leads the team and has over 30 years' experience of employment law, acting before employment tribunals and the High Court.

Practice head(s):

Alan Lewis

Other key lawyers:

Joanne Alvey

Testimonials

‘I found Linder Myers to be very professional, and worked as a team. I was kept up to date on my case at all times and if the lead person was off I was contacted by one of the team or was able to talk to one of the team if I needed too. I felt that this made me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t ask. They were knowledgeable and very helpful.’

‘The person that I worked with was well versed in Employment Law and would always give me advise and explain things that I didn’t understand. They were patient and always kept me informed.’

‘Alan Lewis helped me during a challenge to my restrictive covenants and my exit from my previous employer. Alan was very helpful, knowledge, protective and ensured that the settlement agreement that was ultimately reached was fair.’

‘Despite the wealth of experience this team has, they are still prepared to go back to the law books and examine matters afresh to ensure their advice is up to date and accurate. Unlike so many market leading firms, they are able to turn their ands to both sides of the coin to understand and appreciate where the other side are coming from. This is a considerable advantage they have over their competitors. ’

‘The Head of the Employment Team, Alan Lewis is very knowledgeable and a tough negotiator.’

Work highlights

  • Acting for 26 claimants in a group action for enhanced redundancy payments which is valued in the sum of £210,000 and is now proceeding to a full Employment Appeal Tribunal hearing.
  • Acted for 31 claimants in a group action for a protective award where judgment was obtained in the Employment Tribunal for a sum in excess of £90,000.
  • Representing 25 employees in a group action for a protective award involving which is proceeding in the Employment Tribunal.

Slater and Gordon

Slater and Gordon acts exclusively for trade unions and their members in employment matters. The firm's work covers acting for individuals and groups of union members in tribunal claims, as well as acting for unions themselves in complaints made against them related to trade union law. The practice is led by senior associates Sadiq Vohra and Justin Quinton, with the latter joining the team in January 2020. The team represents private and public sector unions; it is currently involved in a number of disputes with the government. Senior associate Sharon Wardale is praised by clients and frequently acts for trade unions.

Practice head(s):

Sadiq Vohra; Justin Quinton

Other key lawyers:

Sharon Wardale

Testimonials

‘Justin Quinton is a safe pair of hands and understands medical trade unions.

‘The team are a dedicated and approachable unit, they often take time out of their day to discuss and explain cases with not only our members who they represent, but ourselves who represent in the workplace. They have offered bespoke training to our network of reps and I get the feeling no ask is too much. They delivered the last training via teams and it was well received, we have also run meeting via zoom/teams and they have all worked well. ’

‘Offers trade union clients the same level of service expected from a large corporate commercial firm.’

‘Approachable and welcoming from start to finish. S&G make the client feel wanted and understood. All aspects of advice and representation are considered to achieve the best possible outcome. Honesty In advice is a must.’

‘Sadiq Vohra and Sharon Wardale are experts in their fields their knowledge is not only refreshing but puts you at ease when you require good solid sensible advice which you can rely on. ’

‘The members of the team that I work with are very supportive of each other with the Solicitor highly-rating the work of the paralegal which is refreshing to see. They work collaboratively which is very good.’

‘I work extensively with senior associate Justin Quinton who is extremely hardworking and very dedicated to the cases we work upon. He is a pleasure to work with as he is very personable whilst also being very sensible and measured in his approach. Despite picking up the cases part-way through he has made considerable effort to get up to speed and handles the complex matters very well despite not having had the years of working on them that the rest of us in the legal team have!’

‘Senior associate Sharon Wardale has an exceptional work ethic and is able to get straight to the point of a case to give an honest and accurate reflection of prospects of success.’

Key clients

G Kelly

26 members of Unite the Union

USDAW

NASUWT

Accord

Police Federation of England & Wales

Association of Educational Psychologists

UCU

Work highlights

  • Acting for a retired police officer who is seeking back payment of an injury award to the date of his ill health retirement.
  • Representing the Fire Union, pursuing an age discrimination claim against the Home Office and around 40 Fire Services around the country arising from the arrangements for moving Fire personnel to the latest Firefighters Pension Scheme which is less favourable in terms of retirement age and benefits than the previous Firefighters Pension Scheme.
  • Representing Unite in pursuing a claim of unlawful deductions from wages, breach of contract, holiday pay and in some cases redundancy and notice payments against an employer who has received Furlough payments from the government but has not paid employees since August 2020.

Thompsons Solicitors LLP

Thompsons Solicitors LLP has a long, proven track record in representing trade unions and their members in employment disputes. The team, which exclusively represents employees, is particularly active for union members in employment tribunals, handling unfair dismissal, disciplinary and discrimination claims. Bernie Wentworth leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Bernard Wentworth

Testimonials

‘Unflagging attention to client care at all times is at the centre of this firms motivation which in my judgement is an essential ingredient for any firm of solicitors. This is supported by extremely able lawyers giving proper and appropriate advice at all times for the benefit of the client’.

‘Preparation is excellent and instructions to counsel clear, concise and to the point. All their staff are approachable, friendly and client aware. Where necessary they instruct experts appropriately and or under direction and adhere to court timetables at all times. Their preparation and attention to detail, both factually and legally, is excellent and leaves nothing to chance, in short, an excellent firm always prepared to go the extra mile’.

‘They give the client clear advice which is always predicated by what is in the best interests of the client and are a credit to their profession.’

Key clients

Unite the Union

UNISON

RMT

PCS

FBU

NUJ

RCM

POA

ASLEF

UCU

KBL Solicitors LLP

Under the leadership of Sarah Collier, KBL Solicitors LLP advises on employment tribunal claims including unfair dismissal, equal pay, discrimination and whistleblowing.

People Legal

Founded in 2019, People Legal acts for employees in a wide range of tribunal claims, including unfair dismissal, harassment and discrimination. Matters involving whistleblowing are a particular area of focus, and in 2020 the firm also handled disputes related to the furlough scheme, such as furloughed employees facing pressure to continue working. Chris McAvoy-Newns leads the practice; in addition to his experience representing employees in tribunal, he also sits as a part-time employment judge and previously worked in-house at a number of multinationals.

Practice head(s):

Chris McAvoy-Newns

Testimonials

‘People Legal were an absolute pleasure to work with. They were responsive, kind but also gave fair and honest advice. They dealt with an extremely tricky situation with efficiency and were able to resolve things quickly and with an excellent outcome. In my case, it is not over stating things to say that this firm changed my life. It has enabled me to get on with my career and you simply can’t put a price on that. I did get initial quotes and emails from other firms but many were not as responsive, did not seem as up to date on the law and were not using the remote validation/ signature technologies that have become so essential recently. I cannot praise them enough.’

‘Chris McAvoy-Newns is bright, commercial and a pleasure to work with. He is transparent with fees to clients have cost certainty. As a team they pack a punch and work on high value and complex cases at a fraction of the cost of their legal competitors.’

‘Incredible attention to detail. Very personable and genuinely seemed to care about my case and the issues involved. They went above and beyond to make sure I understood all my options and the potential outcomes. I would instantly recommend this firm to anyone.’

‘Chris McAvoy-Newns dealt with my case and he kept me fully informed throughout. His explanation was precise and easy to comprehend. If he was not available he always returned my calls. I was exceptionally happy with the outcome of my case and have since recommended him to friends and family.’

‘The team was very professional and they know their work very well. They were very flexible and swift in taking action. They helped me to close my case within a strict deadline.’

‘Chris McAvoy-Newns was exceptional. His service was excellent. High level advice which helped me achieve the best outcome.’

‘Chris McAvoy-Newns, is a extremely knowledgable but pragmatic lawyer. Historically I’ve used lawyers who are technically very good but missing the pragmatic and human approach and Chris balances this effortlessly. He’s technically sound, understands his craft very well and passionate about fighting for a legitimate cause so for me this is a stand out from competitors where you often feel you are just another case – Chris gives that personal, but very professional approach.’

‘What makes Chris McAvoy-Newns stand out is his flexibility and availability. Chris makes you feel prioritised at what can be an otherwise stressful time and knowing that he is there to offer help and support is very reassuring and comforting. In addition, I really valued Chris’ advice – he made great effort to listen and understand what was important to me and crafted his advice accordingly. It was clear that he took my feelings and thoughts on board.’

Key clients

Operations Director for Construction Company

Principal Ecologist for Engineering Professional Services Company

Care Provider in a National Healthcare Organisation

Senior Lecturer and Publisher at a Higher Education Institute

Vice President of a Manufacturing Company

Trade Marketing Manager for a Liquor Brand

Senior Board Level Manager for a Pharmacy

Operations Manager for a Real Estate Investment Company

Engineer for a Telecoms Company

Consultant Gynaecologist for the NHS

Work highlights

  • Acted for an operations director in an unfair dismissal claim involving whistleblowing.
  • Representing a Principal Ecologist in a claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination due to pregnancy.
  • Representing an Administration Assistant in a claim of sexual harassment and constructive unfair dismissal (alongside other claims) against the employer and the harasser.