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Robin Allen QC

" excellent reputation for ... the most ground-breaking employment cases. Many of his recent matters have been heard by the Supreme Court ... an indication of the esteem in which he is held by the employment world."

Clerks: 020 7827 4000

Areas of Practice: Commercial Law | Discrimination & Equality | Employment | Sport & Entertainment | Regulatory and Public | Human Rights


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.

In the Autumn of 2018 he will give the prestigious Hamlyn Lectures.


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

Directory References

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."

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 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

In the Autumn of 2018 he will give the Hamlyn Trust lectures in Belfast, Edinburgh and London,under the overall title "Why does Equality seem so difficult? Three Problems in Comparison".

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

Highlight Cases

 Over the last 10 years -