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Employment General Capability Statement



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  • 1. Introduction to our Employment Team
  • 2. Introduction to Birketts LLP We are delighted to have the opportunity to provide you with information about Birketts LLP. With 39 partners and a total staff in excess of 275 based in offices in Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge, we are large enough to provide specialist skills in most areas of the law, but small enough to maintain a personal service. We believe that Birketts delivers the following key benefits: • A combination of specialist skills with the personal attention of our most senior people; we expect our partners to be fully accountable for the service they and their teams deliver. • The courtesy and integrity of a highly personal service and a commitment to service excellence. In an independent survey, commissioned by another leading law firm in this region, we were placed ahead of any other competitors for our level of client satisfaction - ranging from major corporate clients and owner managed businesses, to high net worth individuals. • Significant team experience and know-how gained in a large number of key industry sectors. This up-to-date knowledge of market practice enables us to be efficient and therefore highly competitive on costs. • A flexible and transparent approach to fee structures. Above all, we believe in giving value for money to our clients. • A commitment to recruiting excellent lawyers - a substantial number of our senior lawyers have worked in major City law firms. • A rigorous insistence on professional and ethical standards - the firm carries professional indemnity cover of £80 million and has been accredited with the Law Society’s Lexcel status for client management skills. Alistair Lang joined Birketts as Chief Executive Officer in September 2001. He was formerly Regional Director of the Bank of Scotland and holds an MBA from the Henley Management School. © Birketts LLP 2009. Birketts LLP is constituted as a limited liability partnership in accordance with the Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000. Where we refer to a ‘partner’ of Birketts LLP, whether in this document or in any other correspondence or communication with you, the term ‘partner’ means a member of Birketts LLP, and shall not be construed as indicating that the members of Birketts LLP are carrying on in business in partnership within the meaning of the Partnership Act 1890. Birketts LLP is not authorised to conduct investment business by the Financial Services Authority but we are able in certain circumstances to offer a limited range of investment services to clients because we are regulated by the Law Society. We can only provide these investment services if they are an incidental part of the professional services we have been engaged to provide.
  • 3. Introduction to the Employment Team “With a new office in Cambridge to add to its Norwich and Ipswich bases, Birketts’ East Anglia profile continues to grow. This “very credible firm” of “excellent communicators and networkers” is praised for its “extremely well-received HR events for clients.” The group’s geographical focus is very much regional, but its client range - taking in local authorities, financial services and the NHS - means that the team also works nationally. Norwich team head Jeanette Wheeler has been involved in work for both individuals and major corporations in the past year. Jolyon Berry’s position in the table is considered “unarguable - he’s excellent.” He leads the Ipswich branch”. Chambers [UK 2009] We are a vibrant, energetic team specialising in all aspects of employment law, offering high quality advice and a personal service which gives best value to our clients. We take responsibility for building lasting relationships since we understand that this is critical to the prosperity of our own business. We will make the effort to understand the businesses we act for and work hard to provide a service which incorporates the values which our clients tell us are important, such as: • demonstrating technical excellence and professionalism; • providing clear, practical, commercial solutions and quality, strategic advice; • being proactive, responsive and accessible; • offering consistency in the individuals we put forward to work with you; • ensuring these individuals are friendly people who you like picking up the phone to; • having integrity and being trustworthy; and • being punctual. These are the standards that our existing clients set and which we aim to maintain. We recognise that it is not simply what we do but how we do it which makes the difference. We also understand that cost accountability and shareholder value are key drivers for any business and that we need to provide a first class service that represents value for money. Our growing employment team forms part of the full service corporate offering which Birketts provides to its clients. Our employment lawyers are experienced and qualified professionals, who are praised by clients for their technical expertise and straight forward practical advice. The team currently comprises three partners, five associates, four solicitors and a consultant lawyer, Malcolm Partridge, supported by two trainee solicitors serving some of the region’s most important businesses. Jolyon Berry leads the team in Ipswich, Jeanette Wheeler leads the team in Norwich and Abigail Trencher leads the Cambridge team.
  • 4. Some of our existing clients testify to the quality of our service on the following pages.
  • 5. Client testimonials “Our experience of Birketts has been that we “For employment law issues we choose Birketts have benefited from timely, pragmatic good value because they provide us with practical, yet and expert advice. Their approach has been to comprehensive advice on employment law when build relationships with our HR staff which required in a timely manner. Given the ever means that Birketts understand our business - its increasing burden of European Directives and pressures and direction - in order to ensure their identifying sensible business management within the advice “works" in practice." new regulations, Birketts have been able to offer legal advice that enables our HR issues to be Paul Cracknell, Director, Business Support managed on a positive and economic basis.” Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust Caroline Wilson, Group HR Manager Bertram Trading Ltd “My personal experience of working with Birketts’ employment team (which is a view shared by colleagues who have also had involvement with Birketts on employment matters), is that they are extremely professional, responsive and provide clear advice. A particularly important factor with Birketts, from a client perspective, is that they make an effort to inform themselves and understand the business context in which the Trust operates which is invaluable in assisting the organisation to make informed decisions, taking account of commercial as well as legal risks.” Sarah Ball, Human Resources Assurance Manager Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust “We have enjoyed working with Birketts since 2004 and have been most impressed with the very efficient and professional service received. They understand the needs of our business and the advice we receive is clear and concise – no jargon, no waffle, just plain facts – very reassuring. There's always help at the end of the phone. In particular it has been a pleasure to work with Katie [Harris-Wright] and the other members of the employment law team. I have always received excellent and pragmatic advice and solutions (expressed in layman’s terms when necessary) and a timely response to all the issues we have discussed. I have no hesitation in recommending Katie and her colleagues to anyone.” Dean Dunn, HR Director J & H Bunn group of companies “The HR team at the James Paget University "We engaged Jolyon Berry for the first time recently Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust greatly value the and were immediately impressed by the way he level of expertise and personal service that listened to what we were trying to achieve and his Birketts provides to us. We particularly benefit sensible practical advice to resolving a difficult from the support they provide in keeping us up to situation. He didn't sit on the fence and readily date in a range of employment matters, as well expressed his opinion, both verbally and in writing. as their rapid response to any specific queries we The bill represented good value for money too." may have.” Peter Starling Liz Cooke, Deputy Director of HR, Blockfoil Group Limited James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • 6. Client testimonials “We have been very impressed by the quality of the Birketts Employment Law team who have consistently delivered practical advice across a broad range of issues. They work effectively as a team which helps enormously when you need help quickly - there is always someone available that understands our business." Andrew Sherwood, Human Resources Director Bernard Matthews Foods Ltd “We have worked with Birketts on a range of projects requiring involvement from a number of their faculties. Every time, their advice has been at very short notice as well as being both professional and accurate. We have gained a great deal of experience with legal advisors worldwide and Birketts certainly range amongst the top firms we have come across.” Bernhard Bruggaier, Vice President, Acteon Group Ltd "Due to rapid expansion, our company have had many “We have been using the legal services of employment issues recently, whether it be TUPE Birketts for over 5 years and have always found issues, disciplinary issues or just good practical them willing and able to respond to our legal employment law advice. We have found both Jolyon needs, for both HR and Commercial and Lisa extremely helpful and competent, like many agreements . . . I was surprised recently to other departments within Birketts. We enjoy clear, discover what a large firm they are as I’d always confident and professional advice that clearly assumed their personal and friendly approach demonstrates a wealth of knowledge both in terms of was a direct result of being a small regional law legal matters and what is best for our individual outfit.” companies.” Jason Boorman Tony Barnes, Managing Director Blue Barracuda LM Logistics Limited “Jolyon, Lisa and their team have always been “Precise, logical, sensitive and sensible advice excellent in providing professional, practical guidance resulting in excellent value for money.” through the maze of employment law and I would strongly recommend their services.” Jeremy Prior JSM Property Jonathan Rawlinson Renault “Jolyon’s support and advice in the past has been second to none.” Ian Twinley, Chairman John Grose Group “Birketts LLP assisted us with the merger between Atlas Agriculture Ltd and Framlingham Farmers Ltd in 2008. They helped us prepare and issue new contracts of employment, employment policies and have provided good commercial and timely assistance with employment related matters ever since.” Ian Watson, Chief Executive, AtlasFram Group
  • 7. Our client expertise We deliver value across a wide range of different sectors helping employers from Greene King plc, Bertram Group and Bernard Matthews to May Gurney, P&O Ferrymasters Limited and NHS Norfolk, and we are building a strong and loyal client following. This is because we invest time and effort in building relationships with our clients and we ensure we give comprehensive solutions in the right context. We service all types of business but have developed our knowledge and expertise in several particular areas. Examples of the work we have undertaken are set out below: Health Sector We act for a number of NHS trusts including Norfolk and Waveney Mental Partnership NHS Trust, James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Norfolk. Our combination of excellent advice and very best value works particularly well for public sector clients. Examples of our work include: • conducting the defence of a complex multi-party disability and sex discrimination Tribunal claim in the health sector; • advising an NHS Trust on a large scale public-to-private transfer of services and associated TUPE and redundancy issues; • advising an NHS body on a complex research fraud unfair dismissal claim; • advising an NHS body on a complex ill-health dismissal; • advising an NHS Trust with regard to the management of capability and conduct procedures for a senior clinician; • amending Trust Board level contracts to bring them in line with the requirements of Foundation Trust status, including dealing with the rotation of directors and the need to be reappointed. Food and Agricultural Our portfolio includes land owners and farming clients in the region including Gressingham Foods, Bowman Ingredients, Bernard Matthews Farms and the AtlasFram Group. Examples of our work include: • advising an international food manufacturer on the redundancy of over 700 staff and the changing of terms and conditions of employment of the remaining 750 staff; • acting for an international food retailer on changing the terms of its final salary pension scheme and changing the contribution levels to a money purchase scheme.
  • 8. Education We act for clients in the independent schools sector and the Further and Higher Education sectors. Our knowledge and experience ensures we appreciate and recognise the specific issues that affect education clients, particularly the way they are funded and the governance obligations placed on them, that pervade into many employment issues. Examples of our work include: • advising a Further Education corporation on the suspension and dismissal of its Principal; • acting for an HE body in respect of the implementation of new pay scales and resultant equal pay claims; • advising an HE body during industrial action, including on the deduction of pay following lecturers working to rule and performing only part of their contractual duties; • acting for the sponsor of an academy school in respect of the transfer of employment of employees employed by the local authority, including the introduction of a new structure and new terms and conditions of employment; • advising the Board of governors of independent schools with regard to contracts of employment and the performance management of staff. Banking and Financial Services Our lawyers are experienced in acting for financial services businesses. Jolyon Berry worked as an in-house lawyer at Barclays in 2003 immediately before joining Birketts. We recognise the importance of compliance, cultural and reputational aspects of acting for clients in this industry and are familiar with the issues arising in call centre operations. Examples of our work include: • defending banks against claims for unfair dismissal by former employees; • assisting with the management of approved persons by the FSA who no longer pass the ‘Fit and Proper’ persons test; • providing equal opportunity training to the wealth management department of a large financial services institution; • negotiated and concluded arrangements for significant executive arrivals & departures including consideration of share option and drafting of LTIP schemes for plc clients. Motor retail Our client base in this sector continues to grow and includes John Desira Group, John Grose Group, the Thurlow Nunn Group of companies, the Turner Motor Group, Rawlinson Renault and others. Examples of our work include: • advising a dealership and successfully defending Employment Tribunal claims arising from the redundancy of its Dealer Principal; • assisting clients with large scale redundancy exercises which required statutory, collective consultation procedures to be followed; • advising a dealership on the acquisition of another motor retailer including advice regarding complicated TUPE issues.
  • 9. International work Our team are experienced at working for international clients helping them source HR solutions across Europe and worldwide. We will assist you with the difficult issues arising out of harmonising practices across countries and applying the advice provided by foreign lawyers. Examples of our work include: • acting for an international outsourcing company advising and sourcing European advice on the implications of TUPE across 17 jurisdictions; • advising the UK company of an international group on the TUPE aspects of transferring a third of their staff (over 1000) into a new JV company; • assisting an international manufacturer of high performance test, measurement and micro-electronic solutions in a group-wide reorganisation of its manufacturing business in the UK. We provided advice and daily support in the three month long restructuring collective redundancy exercise and closure of two of its manufacturing sites; • advising a Dutch land agent on the employment aspects of the sale and divestiture of a very large agricultural estate. Shipping, logistics and transport Our team has significant experience in the shipping, logistics and transport sector. We appreciate the regulatory requirements and give pragmatic and timely advice to our clients in this sector. Examples of our work include: • defending clients in difficult Employment Tribunals claims; • advising clients on the harmonisation of terms and conditions following a TUPE transfer and the redundancy of excess staff after the merger of two businesses. Insurance Sector We provide a wide range of employment related services to many international insurance companies and Lloyds syndicates including those based in the City of London which include Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe, Tyser & Co and Jubilee Managing Agency Limited. Examples of our work include: • assisting a multinational claims company with a second generation outsourcing arrangement where they became the new provider of a multimillion pound insurance claims handling service. Legal support required included the negotiation of contractual documentation together with providing in depth advice on the practical application of TUPE; • drafting, advising and enforcing contractually agreed restrictive covenants in staff contracts of employment.
  • 10. Private Client We also act for a large number of significant client estates, farming clients and private individuals. Examples of our work include: • successfully defended claims threatened by a high street bank for injunctive relief against a former, senior member of staff; • advised on the validity of a compromise agreement in relation to the ability of an employee to exercise share options post signing; • acting for a client in obtaining £340k tax free under the terms of a managed exit.
  • 11. Our particular areas of legal expertise Strategic Employment Services • Senior executive severance work and negotiating managed exits • Outsourcing deals and TUPE • Strategic redundancy advice • Restricted covenant advice, dispute management and High Court Litigation, provided in conjunction with Partner Paul Matthews and our litigation team • Drafting and advising on incentives and benefit schemes (including EMI schemes, SIPS, LTIPs and phantom share schemes) • Corporate Immigration advice and expertise provided by Sally Azarmi based in our Ipswich office (backed up by UK tax immigration capability) • Health and Safety advice and litigation provided by Partner Richard Hayes, Consultant Malcolm Savory and Barrister Laura Thomas (see CVs attached) • Working with NHS and Education clients and the additional statutory, contractual and legal obligations that apply to employers in those sectors • Tribunals • Corporate deal support HR Services • Difficult grievances • Directors’ service agreements • Changing terms and conditions and issuing new contracts for individuals or collectively • The avoidance of Tribunal claims by providing immediate advice on the conduct of disciplinary hearings • Maternity/paternity issues and flexible working requests • New handbooks/policies and contracts of employment • Discrimination and equal opportunity issues • Compromise agreements • Information and Consultation • Trade union recognition
  • 12. Additional resources and added value In addition to the services you would naturally expect from your employment advisors, we offer a range of added value offerings including: • A helpline service which gives easy, fast access for your Managers and Directors to our legal HR experts on day-to-day HR challenges • Bespoke in-house training • Public seminars and events • Free monthly e-mail ‘reader friendly’ bulletin of the most recent developments in employment and health and safety law • Free ‘Early Bird’ breakfast workshops in Norwich, Ipswich and Cambridge at which we provide a brief case-law update and then go on to explore a particular aspect of forthcoming legislation or human resources management in an interactive and relaxed manner • Free bi-annual publication entitled HR Matters! in which a number of particular employment law issues are explored in greater depth than is possible in our other updates • Free publications dealing with developments in other specialist areas of law including employee incentives and rewards, and health and safety • Associations with experienced HR consultants who can provide on the ground project support and/or hand-holding • Mock Tribunals • Thought Leadership Events
  • 13. Meet the team Birketts’ Employment Team - HR Specialisms Jeanette Wheeler, Partner, Norwich Sonya O’Reilly, Associate, Norwich • TUPE, large scale restructuring and • Complex Employment Tribunal Litigation outsourcing • Executive managed exits and employment • Board level issues issues • NHS • Public sector work – especially NHS • International work (including offshore oil and Lottie Seaborn, Associate, Cambridge gas sector) • Incentives & Rewards, in particular share Jolyon Berry, Partner, Ipswich options • TUPE and employment work arising out of • Complex disciplinary matters M&As • Age Discrimination • Employment disputes including high level exits • Whistleblowing • Employment injunctions Lisa Hayward, Senior Solicitor, Ipswich Mat Newnham, Partner, Norwich • Share Incentives • Public Sector work - especially NHS • Public Sector matters (including public to • National Minimum Wage and Working Time private transfers) Regulation Litigation • TUPE • Complex grievance issues Katie Harris-Wright, Solicitor, Norwich • Employment Tribunal Litigation • Employment Tribunal Litigation Tom Wagstaff, Associate, Norwich • Complex disciplinary/grievance matters • Trade Union recognition and industrial action • TUPE • TUPE advice (M&As and in-sourcing and outsourcing of services) Ben Conway, Solicitor, Ipswich • Collective redundancies • Employment Tribunal Litigation • Employment Tribunal Litigation • Compromise Agreements • ACAS Code of Practice Catherine Johnson, Associate, Ipswich • Large scale collective redundancy and TUPE Laura Brown, Solicitor projects for both public and private sector • Employment Tribunal Litigation • Compromise Agreements • Public sector outsourcing and in sourcing • Employment related company documentation exercises • Disciplinary and grievances issues • Complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims Malcolm Partridge, Consultant, Norwich • Employment Tribunal litigation and advocacy Abigail Trencher, Associate, Cambridge • Discrimination claims • Education • Senior Executive level disputes • Local Government • Not for Profit • Governance issues • TUPE From left to right: Jolyon Berry, Catherine Johnson, Sonya O'Reilly, Katie Harris-Wright, Tom Wagstaff, Mat Newnham, Jeanette Wheeler, Lisa Hayward, Ben Conway, Abigail Trencher, Lottie Seaborn, Malcolm Partridge and Laura Brown.
  • 14. Employment Team CVs
  • 15. Jeanette Wheeler, Partner PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Jeanette joined Birketts in 2007 as a partner to lead the employment team in Norwich, having previously been a partner at Eversheds. She has wide ranging experience acting mainly for employers in advising on large scale redundancy restructuring exercises; the TUPE implications of outsourcings, acquisitions and disposals; dealing with the removal of directors; post termination restrictions; compromise agreements; difficult staff grievances and complex Tribunal claims. Jeanette has received plaudits over the years for her partnering approach with her clients and her commitment to the building of sustainable relationships and providing excellent client service and practical solutions that work for the business. Over the years, she has acted for a significant number of household brands regionally, nationally and internationally providing both operational and strategic HR advice. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Jeanette is Client Partner for a number of important Birketts’ clients including May Gurney, Bernard Matthews, Kettle Foods and Acteon (off-shore oil and gas sector). Her work for these clients covers the full range of employment issues from Tribunal claims, executive level matters, TUPE and restructuring. Health sector Jeanette acts for a number of NHS Trusts typically dealing with issues such as the removal of very senior executives and difficult disciplinary and grievance matters. She has also provided training and advice to the probation service and a number of councils. In particular she has tackled complex matters relating to the Working Time Regulations and bank staff. Food sector As well as acting for the likes of Campbell Foods and the Nestle group of companies in the past, many of Jeanette’s current clients are in the food sector including Kettle foods and Bernard Matthews. Nestle’s In-House Employment Counsel Matthew said of Jeanette: “For many years Jeanette acted for Nestlé UK and was our main point of contact. She consistently provided excellent clear technical legal advice to our business, and most importantly she also provided practical business based solutions. Jeanette was also very responsive and demonstrated that she cared about Nestlé UK and the relationship she built with us and our associated UK Group of companies”. Financial services sector Jeanette has also acted for clients in the financial services sector both in London and Norfolk (reflecting the growing financial services sector in the Norfolk region). Clients have included Bear Sterns, Aioi Insurance Company of Europe, Virgin Money Limited and Central Trust plc. Jeanette is experienced at dealing with issues relating to bonuses and very aware of the cultural issues in the workplaces of financial institutions and the need for such companies to manage reputation issues and be seen to be compliant. International Over the past 6 years Jeanette has travelled extensively on business to the United States, undertaking speaking opportunities and advising clients. In particular Jeanette has sourced, coordinated and interpreted international HR advice for multinationals including Captaris, Onyx Software and a number of Silicon Valley corporates. Most notably, Jeanette acted for
  • 16. international outsourcing company ACS in respect of a deal they concluded with American Standard. Jeanette travelled to Brussels to participate in negotiations and prepared a report covering the impact of TUPE across 17 European jurisdictions. Jeanette has also participated in corporate roundtable discussions on global M&A activity hosted by Ernst and Young in the Silicon Valley and attended by the GCs of companies including E-bay, Apple, Cisco and HP. Clients praise Jeanette for her straightforward approach. “As the HR Manager for NXP Semiconductors in the UK, I found Jeanette's support to be invaluable at this time, always friendly, accessible and willing to discuss issues at a practical level as well as making sure the legal boundaries were known.” HR training Jeanette has conducted numerous public and in-house training courses on a range of HR topics including equal opportunities receiving feedback such as “at last a straightforward, practical lawyer!” Public speaking and media Jeanette is an experienced media commentator on employment law subjects and has written numerous legal articles. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 1998 Diploma in Employment Law, University of East Anglia 1999 Post Graduate Diploma in Employment Law, College of Law 2001 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756427 Mobile: 07983 519812 E-mail:
  • 17. Jolyon Berry, Partner PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: When first at Birketts, Jolyon was the firm’s only full time employment lawyer. That was in 2003 and since then the employment team at has grown to what it is today; one of the strongest employment teams in the region. Jolyon is recognised by the legal commentators, Chambers and Partners as being “excellent” and has been a partner in the firm’s corporate department since 2006. He heads the employment team based in the Ipswich office. The role of his team is to provide timely, straight forward and pro-active advice in matters relating to Employment Litigation, supporting business’ HR function, assisting with corporate transactions and advising in relation to share option and other incentive schemes and arrangements. Jolyon’s particular expertise is with the management of high-level employment disputes often arising out of variance within the boardroom. He is also a popular speaker at our many seminars and has been asked many times by clients to deliver in-house training. His clients include a significant number in Central and Greater London as well as in Essex and Suffolk. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: • Acting for Liberty International Mutual Europe, Tyser & Co., the John Grose Group, the Thurlow Nunn Group, Rawlinson Renault, Greene King, Gressingham Foods, Lloyds agency, Jubilee Managing Agency and others; • Advising a local, national company to manage the exit of two senior directors from the business; • Negotiating complex compromise agreements for companies and senior individuals alike; • Providing “help line” advise to a number of clients which are either do not have an in-house HR capability or who have the need to supplement their domestic resources; • Drafting staff handbooks and company policies for a national company which has many subsidiaries and assisting with their implementation and the management of change within the workforce; • Advising a regional “brand name” business on matters arising out of making large scale redundancies; • Enforcing and defending restrictive covenant claims; • Named as a “Legal Expert” by Legal Business in 2007 and 2008. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2000 LLB University of Nottingham Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: 01473 406356 Email:
  • 18. Matthew Newnham, Partner PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Matthew has experience in all areas of employment law including advising public and private sector clients on large scale employment issues such as dealing with mass redundancy situations, advising on significant changes to employees’ terms and conditions, and helping with TUPE transfers. He provides day-to-day employment advice to clients on contentious and non- contentious issues such as ‘hiring and firing’ senior level executives, long term disability related absence issues and employee performance management. Matthew has experience in a broad range of Employment Tribunal matters. He deals with all types of employment claims in the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal, including claims for all types of discrimination and unfair dismissal. He has also advised clients using judicial mediation in the Employment Tribunal. Matthew is also a keen public speaker and regularly delivers seminars on employment related topics. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Health and Public Sector experience Matthew advises a significant number of public sector clients (including NHS Trusts, councils and the Police) on contentious and non-contentious employment issues. He has recently advised a number of NHS clients on large scale employment redundancy situations and TUPE transfers. Matthew has successfully defended a number of complex discrimination Employment Tribunal claims made against such clients. Agricultural clients Matthew has a notable track record for advising clients with substantial land and farming interests and his work in this area covers a wide variety of issues from TUPE to absence management and the implications of the Agricultural Wages Orders. He also works closely with the Birketts’ Agricultural Team and advises on employment issues arising from the sale/purchase of farming businesses and high value Estates. HR training Matthew has delivered numerous training sessions to clients on topics including equal opportunities, unfair dismissals and dealing with grievances. He works hard to ensure that training courses are tailored to clients’ needs so that attendees get maximum benefit from such courses. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2001 LLB Southampton University 1998 LPC College of Law, Guildford 1999 Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Employment Law UEA 2002 CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: 01603 756412 Email:
  • 19. Catherine Johnson, Associate PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Catherine joined Birketts in January 2009 from a City law firm and specialises in contentious and non-contentious employment law, advising clients in the private and public sectors. She is experienced in handling transaction work which includes advice on the employment aspects of business sales and in/out sourcing exercises involving TUPE, harmonisation of terms and conditions of employment, and retention of key employees. Catherine has conducted a number of large scale collective redundancy exercises, reorganisations and business relocations. She also advises on day-to-day employment issues, some examples of which are managing performance, handling disciplinary and grievances, and drafting employment documentation including service agreements, employment contracts and policies. Catherine has extensive experience of conducting Employment Tribunal claims including unfair and constructive dismissal, sex, race and disability discrimination, whistle blowing and breach of contract. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: TUPE • Advising on the TUPE aspects of post-transfer integrations, including advice on information and consultation, redundancy and retention of key directors and employees; • Conducted a large number of outsourcing and in-sourcing projects on the change of a service provision for both the public and private sector. Senior terminations and contractual terms • Providing strategic advice on how to effect executive terminations, negotiate the terms of the termination including compensation and benefits, and drafting the resultant compromise agreement; • Drafting terms and conditions of employment including directors’ service agreements, policy and handbook reviews, and guidance notes. Particular experience of drafting and advising on restrictive covenants. Projects • Working with a major European Bank to assist with an integration programme which involved advising on information and consultation under TUPE and in addition, on changing terms and conditions of employment post-transfer; • Advising a number of converging bodies including the Office of Communications (Ofcom), Natural England and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board on all the employment aspects flowing from the convergence of legacy bodies into the newly created organisation. Providing advice on TUPE; changing terms and conditions following a TUPE transfer, matching/assimilation process for populating the new organisation, design of a new contract and benefits, and collective redundancy exercises involving collective consultation with the recognised unions; • Extensive experience in handling large collective redundancy exercises from design of an HR project plan, providing draft template letters, Section 188 letters and Form HR1, assisting with scripts for consultation meetings with the Union(s) and with affected
  • 20. employees, assisting with selection criteria and training managers carrying out the selection exercise etc. Tribunal claims • Extensive experience in conducting Employment Tribunal claims, including unfair and constructive unfair dismissal, sex, race and disability discrimination, whistleblowing and breach of contract. QUALIFICATIONS: LB Business Law Post Graduate Diploma in Law, College of Law, London 1997 Legal Practice Course: College Of Law, London 1999 Diploma in Employment Law, University of East Anglia 1999/2000 Admitted as a Solicitor 1999 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01473 299174 E-mail:
  • 21. Sonya O’Reilly, Associate PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Sonya trained with Eversheds, qualifying in 2002. She joined Birketts in August 2005 and specialises in all aspects of employment law, advising on both contentious and non-contentious issues arising out of the employment relationship. She is experienced in handling matters such as discrimination, large and small scale redundancy situations, TUPE transfers, changes to terms and conditions, claims in the Employment Tribunal and ad hoc employment-related advice for a variety of clients. Sonya also provides employment law support on corporate transactions. She regularly speaks at seminars and provides training on employment- related matters. She has recently acted for a client in relation to a high- value second-generation outsourcing of a contract to provide services which included considerable advice of the impact on TUPE. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Health sector experience Sonya advises a number of NHS Trusts on contentious and non-contentious issues and has experience of handling matters including disciplining doctors in accordance with the latest Department of Health Guidelines, advising on methods of managing both long and short term absence, handling both large and small scale redundancy exercises in conjunction with public consultation requirements and advising on changes to terms and conditions, as well as providing helpline advice and the drafting of employment documentation. Directors and senior executive engagements and dismissals Sonya has acted for a significant number of clients with regard to their terms for hiring senior executives and on Board level terminations and has negotiated at the highest levels on the terms of compromise agreements and exit strategies. Corporate transactional support Sonya regularly works with Birketts’ corporate team to provide employment related advice from the due diligence aspects right through to advice on the practical impact of TUPE and the negotiations over the terms of warranties and indemnities. HR training Sonya has provided training on many legal topics including designing and conducting a series of bespoke equal opportunities training sessions for a large employer with employees across three sites in the UK. She has an excellent reputation as a public speaker. CAREER HISTORY AND QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2002 BA (Hons) History, Leeds University 1997 CPE College of Law, Guildford 1999 LPC College of Law 2000 Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Employment Law, UEA 2003 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756413 E-mail: sonya-o' Abigail Trencher, Associate
  • 22. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Abigail joined Birketts in 2008, strengthening its presence in Cambridge. She has particular expertise in advising education and local government clients and also acts for clients within the private sector advising on collective redundancy, Board level disputes, TUPE, final salary pension schemes and changing terms and conditions of employment. Abigail has broad advocacy experience in the Employment Tribunal, representing clients in Tribunals throughout England and also appearing before the Edinburgh Tribunal. She is a seasoned employment law trainer and provides employment law training on all areas of employment law. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Education • Advising further education corporations on the suspension and dismissal of its Principal and on the procedure to be followed when disciplining a senior post holder; • Advising further education colleges on governance issues and the statutory instruments and articles of government; • Advising an HE body in respect of the implementation of new pay scales and resultant equal pay claims; • Advising an HE body during industrial action, including on the deduction of pay following lecturers working to rule and performing only part of their contractual duties; • Acting for the sponsor of an academy school in respect of the transfer of employment of employees employed by the local authority. Local Government • Acting for a local council defending a sex and race discrimination claim; • Advising on data protection issues relating to employees of a council; • Advising on TUPE matters arising out of the outsourcing of services. Private Sector • Drafting flexible contracts of employment for clients in the building and security industries to meet their business needs; • Advising a client on changing, and closing, a final salary pension scheme and the consultation requirements of such changes; • Advising on the relocation of a large business and the ensuing redundancy issues; • Acting for a client on a breach of contract claim in the High Court. Training • Abigail provides training on a wide range of employment law issues including TUPE, data protection, managing investigations, discrimination, discipline, absence and performance. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a Solicitor 1998 (LLB Hons) University of Kent at Canterbury Legal Practice Course, The College of Law, Guildford Diploma Employment Law, College of Law of England and Wales Advanced Certificate in Employment Law, University of East Anglia CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01223 326662 Email: Tom Wagstaff, Associate
  • 23. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Tom joined Birketts in 2009 from a large national law firm. He advises clients on all aspects of employment law, covering contentious and non-contentious issues including Employment Tribunal claims, TUPE transfers, collective redundancies, contracts and handbooks, and preparing due diligence reports. He has worked with clients from a range of sectors including the offshore industry, Cambridge based technology companies, food and agricultural industries, education, media and the retail industry. His broad range of skills, in addition to his trade union expertise, brings another dimension to the team. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: In recent years Tom has developed his knowledge and experience in the following ‘niche’ areas of employment law and specialist business sectors: Industrial action Tom has advised several large commercial organisations facing the threat of industrial action. Tom has helped employers deal with issues such as working to rule, go slows, picketing, and full strike action. Tom has also made a successful application to the High Court to obtain an injunction preventing strike action. In-sourcing and outsourcing Tom has considerable experience in advising on the applicability of TUPE to the in-sourcing and outsourcing of services as well as situations involving a change of contractor. Issues that commonly arise in these contexts are the requirement to elect employee representatives and the extent to which parties must inform or consult with affected employees. Tom has particular experience in suggesting practical approaches to these potentially complex legal concepts. National minimum wage Tom has advised numerous businesses in the leisure and tourism industry on the impact of providing “on-site” accommodation and the knock-on effects for national minimum wage purposes. In particular, Tom has helped organisations deal with HMRC enforcement officers where they have challenged the employer’s compliance with national minimum wage legislation. Food industry Tom is very familiar with employment issues that commonly arise in the food manufacturing industry, particularly in large factory based working environments. Tom has helped clients prepare bespoke policies on sensitive industry issues such as food hygiene standards, searching employees’ possessions, and whistle blowing. Off shore industry Tom has assisted off shore operators with working time legislation which poses particular difficulties in the sector. He has also helped clients draft and implement anti drug and alcohol policies. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2001 LPC, College of Law, London – 1998/99 CPE, College of Law, London – 1997/98 MA Modern Languages (French and German) University of Oxford – 1993 to 1997 Diploma in Professional Translation (French to English), City University – 2005/6 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756462 E-mail:
  • 24. Lottie Seaborn, Associate PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Lottie became an Associate in 2009 having joined the firm in 2004. She acts for a wide range of clients from SMEs to large multinational companies and public sector organisations. Lottie advises clients on a broad range of matters including redundancy and re-organisation programmes, large scale changes to terms and conditions of employment and issues arising out of TUPE on a business transfer or outsourcing exercise. Lottie also provides clients with day-to-day practical advice on the handling of difficult disciplinaries and grievances and represents clients in the Employment Tribunal. She is also a leading member of the Incentives & Rewards Team advising on the design, drafting and implementation of a variety of share schemes. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims Winning one of the UK’s first age discrimination claims for a senior, city executive, obtaining a significant six-figure settlement (reported in national employment law bulletin - “IDS Brief”, November 2007). TUPE Advising an NHS Trust on a large scale public to private transfer of services and associated TUPE and redundancy issues. Executive severance deals Acting for both public and private sector clients on the removal of key, senior executives and acting for a large NHS Trust on the termination of its Chief Executive’s employment. Training Frequently providing in-house training to a number of private, public and charitable organisations on matters including data protection, TUPE, dignity at work and the practical management of disciplinary and grievance proceedings. Employee incentives and Rewards Advising a public company on the implications of various share and share option schemes in respect of a recommended takeover by a FTSE 100 company for the aggregate value of £62 million. Lottie also advised upon share option and LTIP schemes for plc clients in the context of executive arrivals and negotiated departures. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2004 LLB Leicester University 2001 LPC 2002 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01223 326605 E-mail:
  • 25. Lisa Hayward, Senior Solicitor PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Lisa joined Birketts in 2007 having trained and qualified as a solicitor with the London Borough of Harrow specialising in employment and contract law. Since joining Birketts she has advised in relation to all aspects of employment law and developed an employee incentives specialism. She is praised by clients for her clear concise and pragmatic advice. In addition to the credential highlights below Lisa, also regularly prepares handbooks, policies and contracts. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Employment Litigation Lisa has experience in a broad range of litigation matters including unfair dismissal, TUPE related unfair dismissal, whistle-blowing and discrimination. TUPE Lisa regularly provides advice and transactional support in relation to the effects of TUPE where there is a sale of a going concern or where services are being in or outsourced. Public Sector experience Lisa is a member of Birketts Public Sector Team. Her experience as a public sector in-house lawyer gives her a level of appreciation and understanding of specific public sector issues many of our clients face every day. Employee incentives Lisa provides preparatory guidance and advice on the implementation of share incentive schemes including drafting and reviewing the necessary legal documentation. She has particular expertise in preparing Enterprise Management Incentives, unapproved and phantom share schemes. Collective consultations Lisa has experience of advising a number of clients in relation to large scale TUPE transfers, changes to terms and conditions and redundancy consultations. HR training Lisa regularly delivers general employment training at Birketts seminars and has delivered specialist training on equal pay, employee incentives and the ACAS code to clients. QUALIFICATIONS: LLB Law (Hons); Anglia Ruskin University Legal Practice Course: Inns of Court School of Law Admitted as a solicitor 2006 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01473 406316 E-mail:
  • 26. Katie Harris-Wright, Solicitor PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Katie joined Birketts in 2007 having trained and qualified as a solicitor with Prettys. Katie deals with all aspects of employment law and has experience in advising both public sector and private sector clients on many contentious and non-contentious employment issues. Katie also regularly prepares employment related documents, including contracts of employment, service agreements, staff handbooks and associated policies and procedures, and compromise agreements. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Employment Litigation Katie has experience in a broad range of Employment Tribunal matters including unfair dismissal, national minimum wage, discrimination and TUPE related unfair dismissal. Corporate Transactional Work Katie regularly works with the Birketts’ corporate team to provide employment related advice on corporate transactions, particularly advising on the practical impact of TUPE. Redundancy Katie has experience of advising a number of clients on large and small scale redundancy exercises, including collective consultations. HR Training Katie has provided training on a wide range of employment law issues including redundancy, discrimination, disciplinary issues, absence management, and performance management. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2006 LPC, College of Law, London - 2003/04 LLB, Bournemouth University – 1999 to 2003 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756432 E-mail: Fax: 01603 756464
  • 27. Ben Conway, Solicitor PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Ben read modern history at the University of Essex prior to taking his law conversion exams. He trained with Birketts and qualified into the employment team in September 2008. Ben deals with all aspects of employment law, acting for both individuals and organisations. In particular, Ben has experience of advising on grievance and disciplinary procedures, employee rights and unfair dismissal. He is also regularly instructed to review compromise agreements, contracts of employment and policies. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Contentious Ben has been instructed to act for clients in a number of cases presented to the Employment Tribunal. He has defended claims for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and unlawful discrimination for employers and has also brought actions on behalf of individuals. Ben is well versed in negotiating the resolution of disputes and advising on settlement agreements. Non-contentious Ben has experience of advising clients on strategic projects, including TUPE transfers. He has been asked to advise on the risks, implications and steps that need to be taken in relation to various transfers of staff. Ben is also used to supporting HR advisors on a day-to-day basis and answering their legal queries. The types of problem that he is asked to help with range from issues arising on the commencement of employment, right through to retirement. In addition, Ben’s practice includes producing and reviewing employee contracts and handbooks for clients large and small. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 2008 BA Hons Modern History, University of Essex 2004 Common Professional Examination, Anglia Polytechnic University 2005 Legal Practice Course, Anglia Ruskin University 2006 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01473 406374 E-mail:
  • 28. Laura Brown, Solicitor PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Laura began her training at a local firm and continued her contract at Birketts, qualifying in 2009. Laura advises a variety of clients including both organisations in the public and private sectors and individuals. She has experience in drafting a range of company documentation and policies including contracts of employment, service agreements, staff handbooks and grievance and disciplinary procedures. She also routinely deals with issues on termination of employment including assisting with redundancy situations, employment tribunal claims and drafting and advising on compromise agreements. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: HR advice Laura has experience in providing organisations with HR advice on such matters as: • Disciplinary and grievance issues • Dismissals • Discrimination • Redundancy • Statutory rights of employees • Data protection and freedom of information in the employment sphere Laura routinely drafts and updates company documentation including various policies, handbooks and contracts of employment. Tribunal Litigation Laura has advised employees on their statutory rights and issuing proceedings in the Employment Tribunal. She has also assisted with defending claims against well known and successful corporate clients in key industry sectors. This has included negotiating settlements and advising both employee and employer on compromise agreements. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a Solicitor 2009 LLB (Hons) University of East Anglia 2005 Legal Practice Course, College of Law, London 2006 CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756422 E-mail:
  • 29. Malcolm Partridge, Consultant PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Malcolm joined Birketts in June 2009. He is a consultant in our employment team. Malcolm joined Birketts from an international law firm, and has over 20 years experience in dealing with all aspects of employment law, with a particular focus on contentious issues. He is an Employment Tribunal specialist and is well renowned and highly regarded across the East of England and beyond for his advocacy skills. Malcolm acts for clients in both the private and public sectors on matters including unfair dismissal, all types of discrimination claims, whistleblowing, redundancy, complex disciplinary and grievances and TUPE. Before specialising in employment law, Malcolm practised both as a criminal law and a licensing specialist. His wealth of experience has secured a strong and loyal network of contacts throughout Norfolk. Malcolm is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and is a former president of the Norfolk and Norwich Law Society. CREDENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS: Public Sector Responsibility for providing employment law advice, in particular in contentious and tribunal matters for clients from local government, NHS Trusts, further education, government departments, skills council training bodies, police authorities and magistrates court committees. Private Sector Acting on behalf of numerous public and private companies and organisations, from household names in a variety of sectors to small family businesses, national professional bodies to private clubs, and international organisations to those with a local base. Malcolm has acted as advocate in cases involving the majority of claims which can be brought in a Tribunal including unfair and constructive dismissals, sex, race, disability and age discrimination, unlawful deductions from wages and national minimum wage. Malcolm is experienced in advising clients on high level executive and director termination of contracts, including those in both the public and private sectors. QUALIFICATIONS: Admitted as a solicitor in 1970 LLB (Hons) Sheffield University Advanced Certificate in Employment Law – University of East Anglia CONTACT DETAILS: Direct Dial: 01603 756419 E-mail:
  • 30. Other specialisms Sally Azarmi, Partner – Corporate Immigration 01473 299130 Sally qualified in 1994 with London firm Lovells where she spent the early part of her career. She subsequently worked in the International Trade and Energy Department at Holman Fenwick & Willan on a number of high profile cases and international deals. She joined Birketts’ Logistics and Shipping Team in 2006. Sally provides a full range of legal advice on all aspects of shipping and international trade, including ship sale and purchase. She speaks fluent Farsi and has particular knowledge of and strong connections with the Middle East. Sally has assisted both Middle Eastern companies keen to do business in the UK and English and European companies wanting to invest in the Middle East and often presents seminars on English law to Middle Eastern companies and individuals and on Iranian business culture to European companies. Her visits to the Middle East have included two trade missions with the London Chamber of Commerce. Laura Thomas, Employed Barrister – Health and Safety 01473 299173 Laura joined Birketts in 2007 and specialises in corporate criminal defence with an emphasis on health and safety. She advises and represents a range of clients, including local authorities and private sector, on regulatory and health and safety issues. She was called to the Bar in 2001 having graduated from Christ Church, Oxford University. Her career began in the Chambers of William Clegg Q.C., 2 Bedford Row, London where she remained for over five years. While in Chambers she prosecuted and defended heavyweight criminal cases in the Magistrates’, Crown Courts and the Court of Appeal and specialised in regulatory law, regularly prosecuting and defending in health and safety cases. Laura worked for a time at the Health & Safety Executive Solicitor’s Office advising on health and safety prosecutions of national importance. She has further conducted legal training for HSE Inspectors as well as speaking at health and safety seminars in London. She significantly contributed to the Butterworths publication “Health and Safety Law: Enforcement and Practice” by Matthews and Ageros. Malcolm Savory, Consultant – Health and Safety 01603 756420 Malcolm joined Birketts in 2004 after 31 years at Eversheds, Norwich. A third generation solicitor in Norfolk, he specialises in Regulatory Law with particular reference to health & safety, environment, food, trading standards, transport and road traffic. He deals with all stages of investigation and interviews under caution to proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court. He is experienced in dealing with both defences and prosecutions and regularly advises local authorities and health care trusts. He is the only practitioner in his field in East Anglia to be mentioned annually in the Legal 500. Richard Hayes, Partner – Personal Injury 01473 406276 A graduate of Cambridge University, Richard trained in City of London. He joined Birketts in 1990 where he specialises in personal injury and medical negligence. His hobbies are golf and gardening.