Employment Law

5 Essex Court is a highly regarded employment law barristers’ chambers. Our members advise both employees and employers on a wide range of employment law and related issues and regularly appear in Employment Tribunals throughout the country as well as in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal. Below are the specialist areas we cover and have practical experience of:

Unfair, constructive and wrongful dismissal,
Discrimination on grounds of Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Religion and belief, Race, Sex, Sexual orientation.
Fixed-term Employee claims, Part-time Worker claims.
Contractual matters, Bonus disputes, General Contract claims, Employee share schemes, Restrictive covenants and injunctions, Equal pay claims.
Maternity, Parental, and Adoptive Rights.
National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations.
Redundancy, TUPE, Whistleblowing, Harasssment, Victimisation.

5 Essex Court’s expertise in providing advice and advocacy in specialist and delicate cases enables its barristers to provide both employers and employees with an exemplary service in private and public law employment disputes. Barristers at 5 Essex Court regularly advise all types of businesses over the complete range of employment disputes and specialise in proposing pragmatic solutions. Our members have strength and depth in all areas of employment law relating to commercial organisations and a collective understanding to deal with the most complex issues.

We are regularly instructed in specialist employment law cases by Police Forces throughout the United Kingdom and represent Local Authorities (including schools and colleges), Government departments and the military in both high profile and sensitive employment cases. We also have long term relationships with major private industry companies for which we provide on going advice and representation

A number of members of our employment team are qualified to accept direct access work from both employers and employees subject to the Bar Council rules for such work.

Richard Oulton and Spencer Keen co-authored Disability Discrimination in Employment (OUP), Alan Payne and John-Paul Waite have co-authoredTottel’s Employment Tribunals Handbook: Practice, Procedure and Strategies for Success and Victoria von Wachter has written the Collective Bargaining section for ‘British Personnel Management ‘(Croner). Members of chambers are also well published in journals throughout the  field.

Discrimination – we have a considerable expertise in dealing with dyslexia and depression/stress at work disability claims. Harassment/Victimisation

  • High Quality Lifestyles v Watts  [2006] IRLR 850, EAT – acting for the Claimant the first reported DDA claim involving an HIV positive employee.
  • Cordell v Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2012] ICR 280 – acting for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a test case concerning the correct choice of comparator in a disability claim,
  • Gilbert v. Kent Police  Ashford Employment Tribunal 1102062/2008 March 2010:  Read the full article in Personnel Today
  •  Gloucestershire Police v. Peters  UKEAT1300/11/SM. Permission to appeal substantive judgment on 7 grounds including use of expert and expert medical evidence, dual role of police  force as employer and law enforcement agency, actions outside the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal.
  • Warner v TVP, Reading Employment Tribunal October 2012: Normal management practice not capable of founding a claim in harassment
  • Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v Keohane [2014] ICR 1073, EAT: discrimination on grounds of maternity and pregnancy
  • Gardner v Chief Constable of West Midlands Constabulary [2012] Eq LR 20, EAT: disability discrimination
  • Aitken v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2012] ICR 78, Court of Appeal: disability discrimination and perception discrimination


Working Time /National Minimum Wage / bonus / pay cases / employment status – these themes form a permanent feature to our caseload

  •  Baxter v Titan Airways: Represented Respondent travel company in EAT. Appeal brought by Claimant who argued that he should be paid the national minimum wage for layover  periods when he was required to sleep close to his clients’ home addresses, in order to take them to the airport the next morning. Appeal dismissed.  The EAT held that the Claimant was neither working nor deemed to be working during those periods under NMW Regulations.
  • Bishop v Metropolitan Police: Represented Respondent police force in this case brought by a part time trainer claiming unfair dismissal. In issue were the Claimant’s employment    status and the meaning of temporary cessation of work for the purposes of ERA 1996, s.212. Permission for appeal and cross appeal to EAT both allowed
  • Davies v Anglian Home Improvements  : successfully represented the respondent in this claim for a bonus payment following a resignation
  • Compass Group UK & Ireland t/a Eurest v Okoro [2009] All ER (D) 91 (Jun), (2009) 153 Sol Jo (no 22) 32  – Represented the successful claimant in the Employment Appeal Tribunal
  • Coors Brewers Ltd v Adcock and others [2007] ICR 983, Court of Appeal: whether discretionary bonuses could be recovered as unlawful deductions under the Wages provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Guernina v Thames Valley University [2008] EWCA Civ 34, Court of Appeal: whether national terms and conditions for university lecturers precluded outside employment

TUPE – these cases are increasing as the courts seek to limit the effect of TUPE

  •  Gould v Kent Top Travel Ltd : acted for Respondent in TUPE/unfair dismissal claim in relation to a service provision change.
  •  Carr v (1)Carlisle (2)Matrix (3) Seafrance EAT:  Pre 2006 SPC provisions appeal on failure to transfer employees despite identical service being provided pre and post transfer.

Procedure / Court process / restrictive covenant

  • Gloucestershire Police v. Peters   UKEAT0322/10/ZT.  Reversal of the REJ’s decision to decline an application by the Police to stay ET proceedings pending the conclusion of a criminal investigation   involving overlapping and common factual material. EAT judge’s (HHJ Ansell) decision based on consideration of the possibility of a fair trial and weighing the balance of prejudice to both parties.      
  • Lake v British Transport Police  (2007) [2007] EWCA Civ 424 CA (Civ Div) (Pill LJ, Wall LJ, Maurice Kay LJ) 4/5/2007 Employment – Police British Transport Police : Disciplinary  Procedures : Judicial Immunity : Protected Disclosures : Unfair Dismissal : Whistleblowers : Police : Employment Tribunal Proceedings Following Statutory Appeals Procedure : s.103A Employment Rights Act 1996 : s.43KA Employment Rights ACct 1996 : s.47B Employment Rights Act 1996. The fact that the members of the Police Disciplinary Board enjoyed the customary immunity from suit when acting judicially did not prevent proceedings  being brought in the employment tribunal pursuant to the Employment Rights Act 1996 s.47B, s.43KA and s.103A, in the course of which it was said that  the board’s decision in a protected disclosure case had been wrong.
  • TRIGGER – Independent Insurance Company Limited (Appellant) v Fleming and another (Respondents) [2012] UKSC 14:  Claim in the Supreme Court as to whether employers’ liability insurance policies covering employers for disease contracted or injury sustained during the relevant insurance period covered cases where the disease was caused during the insurance period, not only when the disease manifested itself.
  • Scope v Thornett [2007] ICR 236, Court of Appeal: assessment of compensation where there is evidence that the employee’s employment might have ended in any event
  • Chief Constable of West Midlands Constabulary v Gardner [2014] Eq LR 23, EAT: whether the ET had exceeded the scope of the remittal to it by the EAT and whether its decision was perverse


Whistleblowing / PII / Social Media misuse / National Security

  • Rackham-Mann v Ministry of Defence : case concerning sexual discrimination, harassment, victimisation, being subject to a detriment for making a protected disclosure, failure to permit  an accompanying friend at a disciplinary hearing and constructive dismissal.
  • Krykant v TVP 2012 acted successfully for police against officer claiming unfair dismissal and victimisation. Decisive points on what constitutes a detriment and who is a   ‘prescribed person’. Please see link to Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph articles.

Barristers in these Chambers routinely make application for Private hearings and confidential judgments for police forces on grounds of protecting national security where Claimant officers work in sensitive areas.

Unfair Dismissal (usually in conjunction with another head of claim)

  • Kenny v. TFL Truck Fitments Ltd. – Unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages and failure to comply with the new ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and  Grievance Procedures.
  • Ellis v North Yorkshire Police : Acted for respondent in constructive dismissal claim in Leeds employment tribunal
  • Boardman v Nugent Care Society & another [2013] ICR 927, Court of Appeal: whether the EAT erred in one of their two findings of perversity in the ET’s decision making.