Fountain Court Chambers

London & Singapore

Industrial Relations and Employment

A number of members specialise in this area, conducting employment work in conjunction with their commercial practices, which naturally leads members to act on behalf of large public and commercial respondents, as well as managerial, senior executive and director-level applicants.

Members practising in this area have appeared in all relevant tribunals, such as the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and in the High Court, as well as the European Court of Justice. They are skilled at making judgements regarding the use of the Employment Tribunal or High Court jurisdiction, as appropriate, for tactical reasons.

There is a strong appellate component to their work, although members are often involved in advance of any first-instance instructions in the Employment Tribunals, and often resolve matters for both applicants and respondents well ahead of any claim, or in mediation, whether independent of any proceedings, or alongside them.

Chambers regularly handles commercial employment claims, largely in the High Court, particularly in seeking remedies in advance of proposed actions, for example, acting against strike action, restrictive covenant and confidentiality injunctions, having the flexibility to work fast in each case.

For example, the set appeared in the case of Metrobus v Unite the Union [2009] IRLR 851, Court of Appeal, in an appeal over an injunction preventing a strike, which established principles of considerable significance for employers, and Network Rail Infrastructure Limited v RMT[2010] EWHC 1084 (QB), which resulted in an injunction preventing a national rail strike over Easter 2010.

The set has acted in respect of bonus disputes (including the leading case of Cantor Fitzgerald v Horkulak), as well as on cases featuring springboard injunctions, such as Clear Edge UK Ltd v Elliot and others [2011] EWHC 3376 (QB), a cutting-edge springboard injunction claim against a proposed team move.

It also acted in Towry EJ v Bennett & others, an eight week 2012 Queen’s Bench Division trial acting for a business in proceedings against individuals and a competitor business for break of restrictive covenants. All three of which are effectively commercial litigation cases in the employment context.

Members can advise on all aspects of employment law, with a bias towards contentious matters. Whilst members are familiar with high-level claims, they can also advise on bespoke individual employment contracts, such as the case of Brandeaux Advisers (UK) Ltd v Chadwick [2010] EWHC 2370 (QB), on the repudiation of employment contracts and whether it is open to an employee to who repudiated the contract, to accept a breach of the employer to terminate the contract.

Members have been dealing with business reorganisations, including TUPE and redundancies, as well as on collective employment law. Members have advised employers, for example on of industrial relations, including on national postal strikes in 2007 and 2009, national transport strikes in 2004 and 2008, a proposed 2010 national telecoms strike of over 20,000 maintenance technicians, 2010 strikes by British Airways staff, and 2011 strikes by civil servants, to give a few examples.

Members are also skilled at obtaining injunctions to enforce post-termination contractual restrictions, having acted in High Court claims for failure to honour settlement agreements, involving the alleged breach of confidentiality obligations. Such work, whilst often confidential, shows our ability to bring cases to a final commercial conclusion having established the necessary legal and procedural groundwork.

Clients instruct Fountain Court for employment work at all levels of call and particularly where cases involve difficult, unusual or high-profile issues requiring an in-depth understanding of business practices and trends, or new and difficult points of law.

That includes ECJ and House of Lords litigation, for example on the entitlement to paid statutory holiday whilst absent through sickness, and payments in lieu of accrued statutory holiday if their employment terminates, in the case of Stringer/Ainsworth v HMRC [2009] ICR 985.

The set is regularly instructed to give advice and act in claims concerning statutory rights and particularly proceedings for public interest disclosure (whistle-blowing), unfair dismissal, TUPE and discrimination on grounds of race, sex (including equal pay), disability, sexual orientation, religious belief and age, for public and private clients.