Robin Allen QC is Joint Head of Cloisters and specialises in employment, equality, equal pay, discrimination, human rights, public law, and local authority work.
Legal 500 rates him as a Tier 1 Employment Law Silk and he has twice been Chambers and Partners' "Employment Law QC of the Year".
He acts for a very wide range of clients, from individuals to organisations, senior bank employees and directors to the low paid, political figures to government, FTSE companies to major trade unions, major football clubs to small sports clubs, charities and accountancy firms, universities, local authorities, and other public bodies. He is frequently involved in test case litigation.
He works across the UK and in Europe. He also undertakes cross - border and international employment and equality issues: for instance, over the last couple of years he has advised on a major Bermuda public sector labour dispute, acted in a cross-Atlantic labour arbitration, advised a pan-European NGO on developing European law, and worked up proposals for amendments to the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air.
Robin has appeared in over 145 reported cases in the Industrial Relations Law Reports (more than any other barrister). These include many path-finding appellate cases at the highest level in the UK and Europe. He has been instructed in over 40 cases in the House of Lords/Supreme Court (including four cases in 2013, three in 2016, and two in 2017). Videos of of his submissions in two recent SC cases can be seen here and here.
His trial practice is concerned with high value and often high profile claims, including test cases and emergency injunctions in trade disputes. He has acted in numerous multi-party cases including securing substantial awards for very many part – time judges in their £2bn pensions' claim. Other such claims include acting for part-time firemen, numerous multi-million pound collective equal pay cases, the former employees of BCCI, the Gurkhas and the Chagos Islanders.
He has undertaken many public interest amicus and intervention briefs, both in the UK and worldwide, for among others the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Harvard University Law School, Public Concern at Work, and Liberty. He has also given evidence to Parliamentary Committees on the technical aspects of proposed legislation such as the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, and he advised the European Commission on the content of the first two key equality Directives.
In his advisory work he has a particular interest in corporate governance, the proper use of publicity powers, regulatory issues and the making of politically sensitive decisions by all kinds of public bodies, one example is the drafting of agreements between the Equality and Human Rights Commission and two police forces on protocols for stop and search. He is currently advising a major football club in relation to regulatory issues.
Special investigatory advice has included working with local authorities in relation to disciplinary proceedings for senior staff and the former Commission for Racial Equality in respect of their Formal Investigations into the Prison Service and the Department of Health, and prosecutions for incitement to racial hatred.
Robin has extensive experience of media work on TV, Radio and in public issue awareness campaigns. Most recently he has been advising the BBC on disability rights: see here.
He both acts in, and undertakes, mediations, arbitrations (including cross-border arbitrations) and other forms of dispute resolution.
He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2009.
He has been asked to give the prestigious Hamlyn Lectures in 2018.
Times Lawyer of the Week - 3rd November 2016
Short-listed Legal 500 - Employment Silk 2015
Winner of Employment Set of the Year at the Chambers & Partners Bar Awards 2013
Short-listed for Employment Set of the Year at the Legal 500 UK Awards 2013
Chambers and Partners, "Employment Law Silk" 2012 and 2008
The Lawyer Magazine runner-up 'Barrister of the Year 2010'
Financial Times "Innovative Lawyer" 2008
Chambers 2017: "Incredibly knowledgeable about discrimination law." "Undoubtedly one of the best at the Bar"
Legal 500 2016: "Able to anticipate all the tricky points in a complex case." "...an innovator ... certainly one of the most accomplished and brilliant employment barristers..."
Who's Who Legal UK Bar 2016: "an outstanding performer" "Innovative" and a "leading figure", "involved in cross-border employment disputes"
Chambers 2016: "Stunningly clever and good with clients." "He knows more about equality law than almost anyone else." "An incredibly formidable advocate."
Legal 500 2015: "Able to deliver complex arguments in a pithy and engaging manner."
Chambers 2014: "A leading silk with an excellent reputation for handling the most ground-breaking employment cases. Many of his recent matters have been heard by the Supreme Court, which provides an indication of the esteem in which he is held by the employment world."
Legal 500 2012: "knowledge of employment law is 'second to none'"
Equal Opportunities Review 2012: Numbered first among 'Stars of the 2000s' and 'All-Time Top 40 Advocates
Appointments and Memberships
Trustee of the London Emergencies Trust
Member of the Bar Council and its General Management Committee since 2014
Chair of the Bar Council's Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committees.
Bencher of Middle Temple
A member of the A List - EHRC Panel of counsel.
Qualified Personal Injury Claims Arbitration Service Arbitrator
A consultant to Age UK, Help Age International and AGE Platform Europe
Former appointments include -
Publications and Training
Human Rights and Employment Law (with Rachel Crasnow, Anna Beale, Claire McCann and Rachel Barrett of Cloisters), 3rd edition to be published by OUP in early 2018
General Editor of Halsburys Laws of England - Discrimination
Family Rights at Work (with Rachel Crasnow and a team from Cloisters) - published 2012 by Jordans
Robin has contributed to numerous books, and journals and reports including co-writing
Robin is in demand to speak both nationally and internationally. In 2017 he has addressed the Annual Conference of the Scottish Employment Judges, and Age Europe's Annual Conference in Brussels.
Other recent conferences include speaking at the Annual Conference of the Association of Women Judges on “Religion in the Workplace”, and giving the key note speech at the Liverpool John Moores University Annual Diversity Conference and the Industrial Law Society Annual Conference.
In recent years he has addressed the Bar European Group Annual Conference in Sorrento, Italy, the HelpAge International conference for the European Year of Active Ageing in Osnabrück, Germany, the European Employment Law Association's Annual Conference in Dublin, the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors Annual Conference in Southampton, and a conference organised by the Ford Foundation in Delhi on developing gender equality in India.
He has given oral evidence to Parliamentary Committees on several occasions, most recently to the Constitution Committee on the crisis in the appointments to the judiciary (see here), and to the European Parliament on proposals for a new Equality Directive. He is a regular speaker at Michael Rubenstein Publishing's Annual Discrimination Law Conference and the EHRC's Scottish Discrimination Law Conference.
MA - Philosophy Politics and Economics: University College, Oxford
Over the last 10 years -
- The Gig Economy - Pimlico Plumbers Ltd. v Smith - Intervening for IWGB in the appeal due to be heard in the SC on the 20th February 2018.
- Equal treatment for District Judges in Northern Ireland acting as Deputy County Court Judges - Keegan and others v Ministry of Justice - appeal to the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal due to be heard in April 2018.
- Religion, sexual orientation, freedom of expression and Northern Ireland - Lee v Ashers The Gay Cake Case- Judgment of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal 24th October 2016 - appeal to the Supreme Court to be heard in Belfast on the 1st May 2018.
- No jurisdiction of the Administrative Court in employment related regulatory matters - GMC v. Michalak - Judgment of the Supreme Court 1st November 2017.
- General principles for interpreting European law- the Future Effects Principle - O'Brien v MOJ- On the 12th July 2017 the Supreme Court referred a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union which will help it to decide whether pensions referable to periods of work before the Part-Time Workers Directive had to be transposed into UK law must be taken into account when pensions are calculated after that date.
- Date on which equal treatment in pension cases must be assessed - Miller v. Ministry of Justice - Judgment of the Supreme Court awaited
- Buses, wheelchairs and buggies - Paulley v. First Buses - Judgment of the SC 18 January 2017
- Servitude and migrant workers - Taiwo v. Olaigbe, Onu v. Akwiwu SC 20th April 2016 - Damages claim by migrant held in domestic servitude.
- Appeal to Bermuda Court of Appeal in relation to labour injunction following dispute affecting whole of the public sector.
- Transnational Arbitration of US and UK law age discrimination claim by former partner of magic circle firm
- LIBOR and Banks - 2014 acted for trader caught up in LIBOR affair
- Montreal Convention - Stott v Thomas Cook Tour Operators Ltd - Supreme Court 5th March 2014 - Impact of the Montreal Convention on rights of disabled while flying.
- Gays and Religion - Bull and Bull v. Hall and Preddy - Supreme Court 9th October 2013 - Sexual orientation discrimination against couple in a civil partnership in the supply of hotel facilities and services.
- Pensions and judges - O'Brien v MOJ - ET 19th August 2013 - Decision in test case litigation for part-time judges that their pensions should take into account service prior to 2000 and should be based on a 4.8% higher figure.
- Strikes and railways - East Midlands Trains v. RMT - CA 15th August 2013 - Emergency injunction to stop industrial action causing major train disruption.
- Teachers and immunities - Singh v Moorlands Primary School - CA 25th July 2013 - Judical proceedings immunity in the context of a dispute between a head teacher and the education authorities.
- Equal Pay and local authorities - North v. Dumfries and Galloway Council - Supreme Court 26th June 2013 - equal pay comparisons when the comparator would not work at the same place as the claimant.
- Harassment, crime and freedom of expression - Willoughby v Hayes - Supreme Court 20th March 2013 - Secured a ruling limiting the defence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 of protecting and detecting crime to "rationale" acts.
- Judges and Pensions - O'Brien v. Ministry of Justice - Supreme Court 6th February 2013 - After three SC hearings and one visit to the CJEU the SC held that Mr O'Brien, who had been a Recorder, was entiled to a pension pro rata to that enjoyed by full time Circuit judges.
- Joint tort liability - London Borough of Hackney v. Sivanandan - CA 29th January 2013 - Joint liability and apportionment between employer and employee
- Volunteers -X v. Mid - Sussex Citizen's Advice Bureau - Supreme Court 12th December 2012 - Intervened for the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the question whether unpaid workers at the CABx are protected by European equality law.
- Age, police training and indirect discrimination - Homer v. Chief Constable of West Yorkshire - Supreme Court 25th April 2012 - First indirect age discrimination case to reach the Supreme Court
- Age, solicitors and partnerships - Seldon v. Clarkson Wright & Jakes (A Partnership) - Supreme Court - 25th April 2012 - Justification for direct age discrimination in the retirement rules of a solicitors' partnership
- Bonuses - Sunderland Council v. Brennan - CA 3 April 2012 - historical pay disparity caused by productivity bonuses held sex discriminatory
- Whistleblowing - Fecitt v. NHS Manchester CA -  EWCA Civ 1190;  I.R.L.R. 64 Causation; Protected disclosures; Standard of proof; Vicarious liability; Victimisation; Whistleblowers
- Closed hearings and special advocates - Tariq v Home Office  UKSC 35
Supreme Court approves use of special advocates in Employment Tribunals - This case has now been taken to the European Court of Human Rights
- UN Disability Convention and the ECtHR - Alajos Kiss V Hungary First case in ECtHR in which the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability was relied - intervention for Harvard Project on Disability
- Injunctions and racists - Equality and Human Rights Commission v. British National Party 
Action by the ECHR to force the BNP to amend its constitution to conform to the Race Relations Act
- Bipolar disorder - Aylott v. Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council CA  EWCA Civ 910 Direct disability discrimination and bipolar disorder
- Banks and ramps - Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc v Allen CA  EWCA Civ 1213 (20 November 2009)
Wheel chair using disabled RBS client successfully defended order for injunction to make main Sheffield branch accessible.
- Religion and schools - R(ota E) V. JFS school and others Supreme Court  UKSC 15,  IRLR 136,  2 WLR 153
Intervened on behalf of the ECHR in this appeal to the Supreme Court on the meaning of ethnic group in the context of an Orthodox Jewish school policy
- Men and equal pay - Hartlepool Borough Council v Llewellyn & Ors EAT  ICR 1426
Equal Pay Act and male “piggy back” claims
- ADHD - X Endowed Primary School v Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal & Ors Admin Ct  EWHC 1842 (Admin) (23 July 2009),  IRLR 1007
School obligations to child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Pay Increments - Health and Safety Executive v. Wilson CA  EWCA Civ 1074 (judgment 20 October 2009)
Sex discrimination and long service pay increments in the civil service
- Deduced effects SCA v. Boyle HL  IRLR 746
Disability and deduced effects – intervention for EHRC at request of the HL
- Air safety - Baker v. National Air Traffic ET 20 February 2009
Unjustified age discrimination in the maximum age for recruitment as an air traffic controller
- Retirement ages - The Incorporated Trustees of the National Council on Ageing (Heyday) v BERR
ECJ  IRLR 373, Admin Court  EWHC 2336 (Admin) (judgment 25 September 2009)
Judicial review of the exclusion of those aged 65 and over from the protections in the Age Regulations
- Gypsies and Travellers and local authorities - R. (on the application of McCarthy) v Basildon DC CA  J.P.L. 1074;  4 E.G. 117 (C.S.) Local authority obligations to comply with the equality duties
- Child abuse allegations - E R.K. and A.K. v. United Kingdom European Court of Human Rights (2009) 48 E.H.R.R. 29 Article 8 and 13 ECHR – Right to an effective remedy for false accusation of child abuse
- Police and discrimination - Assistant Commissioner Tariq Ghaffur v Commissioner Sir Ian Blair
Acted for AC Ghaffur in his settlement with the Met Police
- Equality Duty - R. (on the application of Baker) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government CA  B.L.G.R. 239;  2 P. & C.R. 6;  J.P.L. 1469;
Gypsies and Irish Travellers, local authority duties and the Race Equality Duty
- Red circling and pay protection - Redcar & Cleveland BC v Bainbridge & ors; Surtees & ors v Middlesbrough Council CA  IRLR 776
Red circling, estoppel, merger, and grievance procedures in multiple equal pay cases.
- Associative discrimination - Coleman v Attridge Law & anor ECJ  IRLR 722 and  ICR 1128
Associative discrimination in EC law; reference to the ECJ on the question whether those who care for disabled persons should be protected from discrimination under national law
- Politics and the law - Watt (formerly Carter) v Ahsan HL 2007 reported in HL at  ICR 82 and  IRLR 243
Political parties and race discrimination
- Northern Ireland and Great Britain - Faulkner and ors v. BT Northern Ireland CA  NICA 39
Appeal in the Northern Ireland CA on whether pay conditions in Northern Ireland may be compared with those in Great Britain .