James Townsend > Payne Hicks Beach LLP > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Work Department



James Townsend is co-head of the Employment department and has over two decades of experience as a solicitor advising business leaders and HR professionals on strategy, engagement, reward and disputes in the field of employment law.

James specialises in statutory and contractual employment disputes, executive terminations, complaints involving the Equality Act, restraint of trade issues and the domestic employment aspects of national and international business mergers and acquisitions.

James acts in cases before the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, as well as, in the County Court and High Court.

James is a trusted adviser and often first port of call on employment matters. His clients operate in a number of different sectors, from those listed on the FTSE to smaller owner managed businesses. Clients include an international motorsport championship organiser, a national television company, one of the UK’s largest distributors of wines and spirits, an international IT retailer, manufacturers, developers, high street retailers,  companies operating in construction and a number of privately owned businesses.


Before moving to Payne Hicks Beach LLP as Co-Head of the Employment Department, James was an equity partner at a central London-based practice.

Lawyer Rankings

London > Employment > Senior executives

With a client base predominantly comprising senior executives in the financial sector, Payne Hicks Beach LLP‘s ‘exceptional’ team is known for handling Employment Tribunal proceedings. Co-heads Peter McRoberts and James Townsend specialise in reputation management and cross-jurisdictional contractual employment disputes, respectively. Chris Weaver has a broad practice covering both advisory work and litigation. Domonique McRae is another key team member.

London > TMT (technology, media and telecoms) > Sport

With the acquisition of Solesbury Gay‘s sports team in October 2022, Payne Hicks Beach LLP continues to grow its full-service sports practice. The team is headed up by disputes specialist Mark Gay, who advises a wide-ranging roster of governing bodies, motorsport teams, and individual athletes on a range of disciplinary, contractual, and commercial disputes. Jonathan Gatward takes on employment, IP and sponsorship arrangements for an array of clients, with a particular specialism in the sailing space. Dominic Crossley heads up the dispute resolution, privacy and media law teams, while Hanna Basha notably advises footballers and boxers on privacy and defamation issues. James Townsend works on intersecting sport and employment law matters. Legal director Nick Grant is also recommended.