Chris Benson > Leigh Day > London, England > Lawyer Profile
Leigh Day Offices
25 ST JOHN'S LANE
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Although a specialist in all areas of discrimination, Chris has particular expertise in disability discrimination, equal pay and pensions. He also has substantial Appeal and High Court experience, as set out below. He also has a wealth of experience acting for claimants who are part of multi party and large group actions. Chris is also instructed by trade unions. He provides head office and high level advice to UNISON and the GMB and provides legal advice to both unions in relation to all areas including internal HR, membership, internal employment, the rule book, claims before the certification officer and advice on industrial action. Chris also provides advice to trade union members in complex cases. Chris also provides advice to the British Association of Journalists and its members. Chris is currently advising around 5000 claimants in a number of multi party and individual equal pay claims for both Trade Union and on a private basis. He brought the first equal pay claims in the civil courts, successfully in Abdulla v Birmingham City Council  UKSC 47 on 24 October last year. The case was hailed as a landmark in equality law. It meant that equal pay cases can be heard in civil courts, with the result that individuals have up to six years after leaving an employer to start proceedings, rather than only six months in an employment tribunal. Leigh day’s employment team was nominated employment team of the year at the legal business awards as a result of the case and their on-going equal pay work. Chris is also instructed by the GMB in relation to the unlawful Blacklisting of construction workers by 42 of the UK’s leading construction companies, including Carillion, McAlpine and Tarmac. The unlawful action has led to the loss of livelihoods for thousands of workers and the damages may run into millions of pounds. The activities of the construction companies are currently being investigated by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee and receives constant media coverage. The claim on behalf of more than 100 individuals is being brought in the High Court (McPherson & Others v Carillion & Others (HQ13X02998 & Others)). Chris represents over a 100 fee paid judges in relation to their claims that they were denied access to the MOJ pension scheme on the basis they work part time (Miller & Others ET case Number 1700853/2007). Chris also advises fee paid judges in appeals to the EAT in relation to part time pensions claims brought by fee paid judges. The first appeals relate to medical members, arising from the ET judgment of Moultrie & Others v MOJ (claim no 2001158/2012) and the second an appeal is on behalf of 71 judges in Gibb & others v MOJ (UKEAT/PA/0142/14). Chris is also instructed by in excess of 100 full-time salaried judges including those from the High Court, Crown Courts and Employment Tribunals in a challenge to the Ministry of Justice’s discriminatory changes to judicial pensions which have a negative impact on a range of judges on grounds of age, gender and BME background. Chris has also represented the claimant in a number of leading employment cases while at Leigh Day, outside the discrimination field, including: (A) Bailey v R & R Plant Hire (Peterborough) Limited,  EWCA Civ 410 – age discrimination; (B) Parekh v London Borough of Brent  EWCA – case management orders; (C) Garratt v Mirror Group Newspapers Limited  EWCA Civ 425 (breach of contract); (D) RSA Consulting v Evans  EWCA Civ 866 (strike out applications); (E) Regent Security Services v Power  EWCA Civ 1188 (TUPE).
Between 1998 and 2000 Chris worked in the voluntary sector (Salford & Bradford Lane Centres) and the public sector (Disability Rights Commission) between 2000-06. At the Commission, as a legal officer, and then senior legal officer, Chris developed the Commission’s legal strategy and was involved in a number of leading cases in the field of disability discrimination. (1) Paul v National Probation Service  UKEAT/0290/03; (2) Kirton v Tetrosyl  EWCA Civ 69; (3) Nottinghamshire County Council v Miekle  EWCA Civ 859; (4) Smith v Churchill’s Stairlifts PLC  EWCA Civ 1220. Chris has also been involved in a number of Human Rights cases involving disabled people, presenting submissions on behalf of the Disability Rights Commission in its role as an intervener including: A & B, X & Y v East Sussex (no1)  EWHC 2003; A & B, X & Y v East Sussex (no2)  167 Admin; Burke v General Medical Council & Others  EWCA; R – ota Johnson & others v London Borough of Havering  EWHC 1714 (Admin). He also represented the Claimant in the first Services discrimination case under the Disability Discrimination Act to reach the Court of Appeal Roads v Central Trains  EWCA Civ 1541. Chris was also involved in the drafting of the Disability Rights Commission’s statutory codes of practice. Chris joined Leigh Day in 2006 to build up a discrimination and employment law practice to complement the Human Rights work at the firm.
Discrimination Law Association; Employment Lawyers Association; Industrial Law Society.
University of Leeds (1997 BA Hons, professional studies: learning difficulties; 1999 MA, disability studies); University of Huddersfield (2001 postgraduate diploma in law; 2003 legal practice course).
Cycling, running, swimming and spending time with my family.
Lawyer Rankings(Leading individuals)
The employee and trade union team at Leigh Day is headed by Chris Benson , who is hailed as a ‘truly inspirational leader’. The team only acts for claimants, and regularly takes on cases turned down by other firms, working with unions and supporting regional and national officers. The team also acts for union members on individual claims and complex group actions, frequently representing thousands of claimants. Particular areas of expertise are equal pay cases, as well as cases concerning the gig economy, representing drivers and couriers challenging their exploitation by large tech companies. The team has been very successful in pension discrimination claims, paving the way for other public sector employees to challenge discriminatory changes to their pensions. Kiran Daurka chairs Leigh Day’s BAME Network and has contributed to a number of government consultations including race pay reporting. Nigel Mackay and Annie Powell are also recommended.
Specialist claimant firm Leigh Day undertakes a wide range of work for senior executives, including complex injunction proceedings and high-value discrimination cases. Recent work has included an increasing number of sexual harassment and equal pay cases. Team head Chris Benson has a specialism in cases involving breaches of performance targets and professional standards. Nigel Mackay and Emma Satyamurti are other notable names in the team.
Headed by Chris Benson, the employment team at Leigh Day has considerable expertise in advising union members in claims for equal pay against both public and private sector employers, occasionally supporting union causes in high-stakes litigation. The team also acts for non-union clients, including senior executives and high-level employees, who approach the firm on an individual basis. The ‘formidable‘ pairing of Lauren Lougheed and Linda Wong, who have been spearheading the team’s high-profile equal pay claims against Asda and Sainsbury’s, were both promoted to partner in April 2020. Associate solicitors Mike Cain and Ryan Bradshaw are also highly regarded.
- Employee/unions - London > Employment
- Leading individuals - London > Employment > Employee/unions
- Senior executives - London > Employment
Top Tier Firm Rankings
- Public sector > Administrative and public law
- Public sector > Civil liberties and human rights
- Insurance > Clinical negligence: claimant
- Employment > Employee/unions
- Real estate > Environment
- Insurance > Personal injury: claimant
- Insurance > Product liability: claimant