Robin Allen QC

Year of Silk/Call: 1995/1974


Arbitration & Mediation | Commercial Law | Discrimination & Equality | Employment | Human Rights | Professional Discipline | Sport & Entertainment


Instructed in over 40 Supreme Court/ House of Lords test cases. Instructed in the most reported employment law cases. Twice "Employment Law Silk of the year"


Robin Allen QC 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, in recent 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, worked up proposals for amendments to the Montreal Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air and advised on the regulatory control of Artificial Intelligence across Europe.

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, two in 2017 and 2018). 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 all the District Judges in Northern Ireland, part-time firefighters, 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 on behalf of the Bar Council. 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, including advising the Local Government Association as to the implications of the Grenfell disaster. Another example is the drafting of agreements between the Equality and Human Rights Commission and two police forces on protocols for stop and search. In 2018 he has advised a major football club in relation to regulatory issues, and the President of a national sports association in relation to disciplinary issues. He has also advised in relation to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.

He is closely involved in the growing debate about discriminatory technology, writing and lecturing on this frontier issue. Along with Dee Masters he hosts which containts information on the interface between technology and equality and human rights law.

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.

In the Autumn of 2018 he gave the prestigious Hamlyn Lectures, and these will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.


Winner of Employment Set of the Year at the Chambers & Partners Bar Awards 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


Legal 500 2018: "A master silk who is a clear choice."

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." " 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."


Bencher of Middle Temple

A member of the A List - EHRC Panel of counsel.

Qualified Personal Injury Claims Arbitration Service Arbitrator


Member of the Bar Council and its General Management Committee since 2014

Chair of the Bar Council's Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility Committees

Trustee of the London Emergencies Trust and the Equal Rights Trust

A consultant to Age UK, Help Age International and AGE Platform Europe

Former appointments include -

Head of Chambers 2002 - 2018
Trustee of London Bombings Relief Charitable Fund, 2005 - 8
Special legal adviser to Disability Rights Commission, 2002 - 2007
Chairman of Bar Pro Bono Unit and Bar in the Community, 2000 - 2002
Chairman of Bar Conference, 2002
Represented Bar Council on Home Office Human Rights Task Force, implementing the Human Rights Act 1998, 1998 -2000
Chaired Home Office Sub-Committee Publicity Committee for the launch of the Human Rights Act 1998
Chairman of Employment Law Bar Association, 1996 - 8
Founder member of Discrimination Law Association


MA - Philosophy Politics and Economics: University College, Oxford


Over the last 10 years -

Pensions and primary time-limits in equality law: Miller v MOJ, Supreme Court, July 2019

Religion, sexual orientation, freedom of expression and the Northern Ireland Constitution - The Gay Cake Case- The Supreme Court heard the appeal in Ashers v Lee, and two Devolution References by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, when sitting for the first time in Belfast, on the 1st and 2nd of May 2018.

Equal treatment for District Judges in Northern Ireland acting as Deputy County Court Judges - Keegan and others v Ministry of Justice - Northern Ireland Court of Appeal and Industrial Tribunal. br />
General principles for interpreting European law- the Future Effects Principle - O'Brien v MOJ- The CJEU will hear a reference from the Supreme Court on the 13th June 2018 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 calculating the pensions due to judges retiring after that date.

Mortgages and disability; no right to change from repayment to interest only - Green v. Southern Pacific Mortgage Company - CA judgment 20th April 2018.

No jurisdiction of the Administrative Court in employment related regulatory matters - GMC v. Michalak - Judgment of the Supreme Court 1st November 2017.

Date on which equal treatment in pension cases must be assessed - Miller v. Ministry of Justice - Judgment of the Supreme Court postponed til the questions referred in O'Brien are answered.

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 - [2011] EWCA Civ 1190; [2012] I.R.L.R. 64 Causation; Protected disclosures; Standard of proof; Vicarious liability; Victimisation; Whistleblowers

Closed hearings and special advocates - Tariq v Home Office [2011] 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 [2010]
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 [2010] EWCA Civ 910 Direct disability discrimination and bipolar disorder

Banks and ramps - Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc v Allen CA [2009] 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 [2009] UKSC 15, [2010] IRLR 136, [2010] 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 [2009] 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 [2009] EWHC 1842 (Admin) (23 July 2009), [2009] IRLR 1007

School obligations to child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Pay Increments - Health and Safety Executive v. Wilson CA [2009] EWCA Civ 1074 (judgment 20 October 2009)

Sex discrimination and long service pay increments in the civil service

Deduced effects SCA v. Boyle HL [2009] 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 [2009] IRLR 373, Admin Court [2009] 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 [2009] J.P.L. 1074; [2009] 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.

Publications and training

Hamlyn Lectures 2018: "Why does Equality seem so difficult? Three Problems in Comparison", forthcoming CUP 2019

Human Rights and Employment Law (with Rachel Crasnow QC, Anna Beale, Claire McCann and Rachel Barrett of Cloisters), 3rd edition 2018 - published by OUP

General Editor of Vol 33 of Halsburys Laws of England - Discrimination

Family Rights at Work (with Rachel Crasnow QC and a team from Cloisters) - published 2012 by Jordans.

Robin has contributed to numerous books, and journals and reports including co-writing the Human rights and European law sections of Bullen & Leake Jacob's Precedents of Pleading and the public procurement and positive action sections of Blackstone's Guide to the Equality Act 2010.

Stop and think again: Towards race equality in police PACE stop and search, ECHR 2013

In February 2019 he addressed the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC) Netlex conference in Stockholm on the Right to protection against discrimination in automated decision-making.

In April 2019 he spoke at the Academy of European Law's conference on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights in Brussels.

In 2018 he gave the Hamlyn Lectures in Belfast, Edinburgh and London and in 2017 he has addressed the Annual Conference of the Scottish Employment Judges in Dundee, 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 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.
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Judgment handed down in the case of O’Brien v Ministry of Justice

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RT @DaphneRomneyQC: Proud as punch of friend and colleague Schona Jolly QC @WomaninHavana and her appearance on @SkyNews last night. Bri…
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RT @mpc_1968: @WomaninHavana @MohsinAZaidi @DrHannahWhite @SkyNews 3/ 'There was a few 'it is what it is' type answers today. A cheeky refl…
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@MilsomChr & @galbraithmarten are against each other in an important employment case today where the tribunal has a…
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