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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
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
Some of our existing clients testify to the quality of our service on the following pages.
“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."
Liz Cooke, Deputy Director of HR, Blockfoil Group Limited
James Paget University Hospitals NHS
“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.”
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
“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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
• drafting, advising and enforcing contractually agreed restrictive covenants in staff
contracts of employment.
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.
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
• Corporate deal support
• 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
• 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
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
• 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
• 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
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
• 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
• Senior Executive level disputes
• Local Government
• Not for Profit
• Governance issues
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.
Jeanette Wheeler, Partner
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Public speaking and media
Jeanette is an experienced media commentator on employment law subjects and has written
numerous legal articles.
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
Direct Dial: 01603 756427
Mobile: 07983 519812
Jolyon Berry, Partner
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.
• 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
• 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
• Advising a regional “brand name” business on matters arising out of making large scale
• Enforcing and defending restrictive covenant claims;
• Named as a “Legal Expert” by Legal Business in 2007 and 2008.
Admitted as a solicitor in 2000
LLB University of Nottingham
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
Tel: 01473 406356
Matthew Newnham, Partner
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.
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.
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.
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
Admitted as a solicitor in 2001
LLB Southampton University 1998
LPC College of Law, Guildford 1999
Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Employment Law UEA 2002
Tel: 01603 756412
Catherine Johnson, Associate
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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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
employees, assisting with selection criteria and training managers carrying out the selection
• Extensive experience in conducting Employment Tribunal claims, including unfair and
constructive unfair dismissal, sex, race and disability discrimination, whistleblowing and
breach of contract.
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
Direct Dial: 01473 299174
Sonya O’Reilly, Associate
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.
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.
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
Direct Dial: 01603 756413
Abigail Trencher, Associate
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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Abigail provides training on a wide range of employment law issues including TUPE, data
protection, managing investigations, discrimination, discipline, absence and performance.
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
Direct Dial: 01223 326662
Tom Wagstaff, Associate
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.
In recent years Tom has developed his knowledge and experience in the following ‘niche’ areas of
employment law and specialist business sectors:
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.
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.
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
Direct Dial: 01603 756462
Lottie Seaborn, Associate
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
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”,
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.
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.
Admitted as a solicitor in 2004
LLB Leicester University 2001
Direct Dial: 01223 326605
Lisa Hayward, Senior Solicitor
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.
Lisa has experience in a broad range of litigation matters including unfair dismissal, TUPE
related unfair dismissal, whistle-blowing and discrimination.
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.
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
Lisa has experience of advising a number of clients in relation to large scale TUPE transfers,
changes to terms and conditions and redundancy consultations.
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.
LLB Law (Hons); Anglia Ruskin University
Legal Practice Course: Inns of Court School of Law
Admitted as a solicitor 2006
Direct Dial: 01473 406316
Katie Harris-Wright, Solicitor
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.
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.
Katie has experience of advising a number of clients on large and small scale redundancy
exercises, including collective consultations.
Katie has provided training on a wide range of employment law issues including redundancy,
discrimination, disciplinary issues, absence management, and performance management.
Admitted as a solicitor in 2006
LPC, College of Law, London - 2003/04
LLB, Bournemouth University – 1999 to 2003
Direct Dial: 01603 756432
Fax: 01603 756464
Ben Conway, Solicitor
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
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.
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.
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
Direct Dial: 01473 406374
Laura Brown, Solicitor
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.
Laura has experience in providing organisations with HR advice on such matters as:
• Disciplinary and grievance issues
• 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.
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.
Admitted as a Solicitor 2009
LLB (Hons) University of East Anglia 2005
Legal Practice Course, College of Law, London 2006
Direct Dial: 01603 756422
Malcolm Partridge, Consultant
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.
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.
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.
Admitted as a solicitor in 1970
LLB (Hons) Sheffield University
Advanced Certificate in Employment Law – University of East Anglia
Direct Dial: 01603 756419
Sally Azarmi, Partner – Corporate Immigration
01473 299130 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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.
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