Advises clients on a full range of employment matters, with particular expertise in disputes, trade industrial relations and post-termination restrictions. Represents a broad range of clients, including those in the life sciences, education and technology sectors. Acts for a wide client base of local, national and multinational businesses. Extensive experience advising senior executives on terms and conditions, exits and litigation.
Strengths: One client says: ‘The firm offers a comprehensive solution to our issues, including personal tax issues for overseas employees,’ while another highlights that ‘the advice given is sensible and practical.’
‘The team as a whole is excellent and provides seamless coverage - their big strength is the capability of the individuals within it at every level.’
‘They are very supportive and propose good solutions.’
Hilary Aldred leads the employment team in East Anglia and concentrates mainly on employment litigation. Clients praise the level of her technical knowledge and pragmatism.
David Bickford is head of the Basingstoke employment practice. Experienced in contentious and non-contentious employment mandates, he advises on TUPE, terminations of employment and restrictive covenants. Clients appreciate that he is ‘very responsive and comes back with clear, sensible, and accessible advice.’
Mike Cole heads the Guildford employment team. He is particularly adept in TUPE matters and business reorganisations, and is appreciated by clients for his ‘ability to assess the situation, and offer comprehensive guidance while remaining down to earth and pragmatic about our company's businesses needs.’
Daff Richardson, who leads the team in Oxford, frequently acts for charities, educational institutions and senior executives. A client says her advice is ‘hugely practical, commercial and technically precise.’
Chris Syder is a strong mediator in employment matters, with a significant presence in the construction, infrastructure, professional services and engineering sectors. He advises on gender pay, TUPE, and disciplinary matters, and he is commended for giving ‘clear advice with a human side to it.’
Eugene Wojciechowski leads the firm's employment offering in Reading, acting for a clients in the banking, IT, retail and property sectors. Clients say he is ‘careful and considered in his advice.’
Gemma Woodhouse is focused on the education and technology sectors, and is held in high regard for her employment litigation advice. An interviewee comments: ‘Her work ethic is second to none. She's straight-talking, she advises well, and we have a good relationship with her.’
Chambers UK - 2019 edition
Penningtons Manches LLP provides 'an excellent cradle-to-grave service with a particular emphasis on client care' and is 'very strategic and unflappable in even the most complex employment disputes'.
Paul Mander leads the team, which was bolstered by the recruitment of Binder Bansel and Anthea Christie in 2017. Bansel is praised as 'extremely knowledgeable' and 'an exceptional discrimination lawyer'; he also handles class actions, collective labour issues and trade union law. Christie, who is 'a force to be reckoned with', handled a judicial review application for a Police Federation representative and is acting for three Police Federation members in claims for unpaid overtime.
At Penningtons Manches LLP [in Basingstoke], 'the overall level of service is phenomenal, the advice given is tailored to the business and has a view to the commercial' issues at stake. David Bickford heads a department that acts largely for employer clients and handles cases concerning whistleblowing, liability for holiday pay, discrimination actions and senior employee exits. Chris Syder, whose expertise includes gender pay matters, is 'very responsive' and has a 'pragmatic' approach. Gemma Woodhouse and associate Katie Glendinning are 'knowledgeable and personable and meticulous with their case preparation'.
The [Cambridge] practice is ‘very quick to respond and keeps clients well informed'. 'I have been really impressed with the quality of both the legal knowledge and case preparation' remarks one barrister. Hilary Aldred, who regularly acts for clients in the education sector, is recommended for her 'excellent customer service ethic, her personal touch and her unrivalled, in-depth knowledge of the sector'. Sophie Whitbread is ‘very professional and explains things well, so non-legal people can understand the terminology‘. Counsel notes that 'her legal knowledge is excellent, she takes a very good analytical view of the case, she is incredibly thorough and she is a good tactical litigator.
The 'highly regarded' [Guildford] team is valued for its 'responsive and pragmatic' approach. Michael Cole is 'exceptionally talented on all fronts, with tactical nous and a willingness to test the frontiers of settled law'. He undertakes the resolution of all types of employment issues assisted by associate Elizabeth Cardy.
The Legal 500 - 2019 edition
Advises UK-based and international companies, as well as high net worth individuals in a wide variety of employment matters, covering employment litigation, discrimination claims, TUPE matters, director exits and shareholder issues. Offers significant expertise in the infrastructure, technology and education sectors, among others.
Strengths: One client describes the firm as ‘timely, very comprehensive and very knowledgeable.’
One client praises the team's ‘wide and deep range of capabilities’ which ‘enables us to create pragmatic solutions to our biggest legal problems.’
Another interviewee characterises the team as ‘very straightforward, pragmatic and available, and the advice is sensible, not theoretical.’
Hilary Aldred is renowned for her understanding of the education sector. Clients praise her ‘excellent experience’ and also the fact that she ‘is always calm, measured and realistic in her expectations.’
David Bickford leads the team based in Basingstoke and advises on both contentious and non-contentious employment issues, including terminations, Employment Tribunal claims and outsourcing matters.
Head of the Guildford team Mike Cole has experience across all aspects of employment work, with strengths in discrimination claims, TUPE and reorganisations. Clients report that he ‘can act decisively with lawyers on the other side to gain a good outcome for us quickly.’
Sources say Daff Richardson is a ‘very good lawyer’ who is ‘very authoritative in her advice’. She advises on the full range of employment law issues including boardroom disputes, executive appointments and terminations.
Chris Syder operates a wide employment law practice, with considerable experience in TUPE. His clients are spread across the construction and infrastructure, professional services, IT and technology sectors. A client states: ‘He always understands the issues and the culture, and he gives excellent commercial advice with exceptional technical knowledge.’
Tom Walker advises on reorganisations, internal disputes and high-level dismissals. Clients say he is ‘very service-oriented’, and appreciate his ‘understanding of the commercial factors affecting business decision-marking’.
Eugene Wojciechowski has experience of a broad array of contentious and non-contentious employment law issues for large corporates and senior employees.
Gemma Woodhouse is described by sources as someone who is ‘very efficient and knowledgeable’, with another noting: ‘She is very responsive, concise and straight to the point.’ She advises on both contentious and non-contentious employment issues, with a focus on discrimination issues.
Chambers UK - 2018 edition
Penningtons Manches LLP is ‘a class above most other firms and its team works well together across the country to share knowledge’.
The practice handles high-profile disputes and restrictive covenant issues for both employers and senior executives. Recent highlights include advising the London branch of an international luxury goods and fashion company on an investigation arising from false VAT reclaims made by an employee; Tom Walker led on the investigations. Walker also advised a foreign hedge fund on the employment aspects concerning the closure and reorganisation of two of the client’s London-based subsidiaries. The team is led by Paul Mander, who represents senior executives in disputes brought against major financial institutions. Andrew Haywood has significant experience handling discrimination claims.
David Bickford heads the team from the Basingstoke office; he is assisted by Gemma Woodhouse, who ‘has a professional approach as well as providing commercial and pragmatic advice’; Katie Glendinning, who ‘has an excellent eye for detail and very strong drafting skills’; and TUPE expert Chris Syder.
Team head [in Cambridge] Hilary Aldred ‘cuts through the noise very quickly and focuses on what is relevant; she has earned the trust and respect of clients with her pragmatic approach’. Aldred and ‘clear and decisive’ Sophie Whitbread ‘always respond on time and make employers feel as if they are part of an in-house team’. Clients also praise Whitbread’s ‘extremely clear, articulate and balanced advice’.
Penningtons Manches LLP [in Guildford] attracts praise for its ‘breadth of experience and knowledge of employment law and strategy’. Practice leader Michael Cole ‘particularly impresses with his ability to devise and deploy litigation strategy to great effect’. He is assisted by Elizabeth Cardy, who is ‘intelligent, hardworking and never afraid to fight her client’s corner’.
Under the leadership of Daff Richardson and the ‘particularly good’ Eugene Wojciechowski, the [Thames Valley] team has also been advising companies from the social housing sector on TUPE transfers, discrimination and trade union matters related to equal pay. Duncan Bain has the ‘ability to see the wider picture’ and Bill Smith is well versed in corporate-related work, especially transactions involving university spin-out companies.
The Legal 500 - 2017 edition