Tom Coghlin QC

Year of Silk/Call: 2018/1998


Commercial Law | Discrimination & Equality | Employment | Professional Discipline | Public & Administrative Law | Sport & Entertainment


"Responsive, dynamic and clear in his advice. Extremely intelligent and approachable, and creative in the solutions and arguments he produces." "He is brilliantly incisive in his preparation, and very client-friendly." Chambers & Partners 2021

A truly impressive advocate, who is calm, courteous, unruffled, and able to deal effortlessly with the most difficult arguments bowled at him.Legal 500 2021


Tom Coghlin QC specialises in employment and discrimination law and a range of related fields, including contractual claims arising from the employment relationship (such as claims to enforce restrictive covenants and obligations of confidentiality), professional negligence claims, and disciplinary, whistleblowing and grievance investigations. He has a wealth of experience in handling sensitive and important matters both at first instance and on appeal.

His current and recent cases includes appeals in the Court of Appeal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal; High Court litigation relating to post-termination obligations on the part of departing employees; and employment cases of all kinds. He acts in complex and high value litigation involving discrimination, whistleblowing, equal pay, cross-border jurisdictional issues, TUPE, commercial agents, and disputes involving partners and LLP members.

He has significant experience in high-profile litigation in international arbitral tribunals.

Tom is experienced in conducting investigations at the highest levels of organisations.

He lectures and trains diverse audiences on employment law and procedure, and has extensive experience in delivering familiarisation training enabling witnesses to perform to their best in court.

Tom sits as a Fee-paid Employment Judge based in the Birmingham region.

Before coming to the Bar, Tom read Law at Worcester College, Oxford (MA 1995, BCL 1996). He has been in practice at Cloisters since undertaking his pupillage in 1997-1998.


Nominated for the Bar Pro Bono Award 2017


For many years Tom has been rated by the legal directories as a leader in the field of employment law. He is recognised for his advocacy, his creativity, his knowledge of his subject area and his user-friendly approach.

Chambers & Partners 2021:“He is responsive, dynamic and clear in his advice. Extremely intelligent and approachable, and creative in the solutions and arguments he produces.” “He is brilliantly incisive in his preparation, and very client-friendly."

Legal 500 2021:“A truly impressive advocate, who is calm, courteous, unruffled, and able to deal effortlessly with the most difficult arguments bowled at him.”

Some comments from the last few editions of the legal directories:

• “He has a phenomenal brain.”

• “A masterful and fearless advocate with an unparalleled eye for detail.”

• “A great tactician who thinks fast on his feet, has a great way with clients, and is very approachable.”

• “Very client-friendly and an amazingly hard worker. He has a razor-sharp brain and he is engaging and charming in court.”

• “Impressive and versatile.”

• “Always very well prepared, leaving no stone unturned ... A quick-thinking and tenacious advocate, who can distil complex legal issues.”

• “A standout barrister who is equally excellent when acting for employers or employees.”

• “Great strategic skills. Incredibly knowledgeable.”

• “He displays excellent technical knowledge and his cross-examination skills are impressive.”

• “He works incredibly hard, is very incisive about how he thinks and he has a fantastic way about working with clients.”

• “An amazing advocate and brilliant tactician.”


Fee-paid Employment Judge (Birmingham region)

Director, Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund

Employment Law Bar Association

Employment Lawyers Association

Discrimination Law Association

Industrial Law Society

Professional Negligence Bar Association


MA (Oxon)



• Seyi Omooba v Leicester Theatre Trust: Tom acted for the respondent theatre trust in its successful defence of a religious discrimination claim brought by a musical theatre performer and devout Christian whose contract to play the lead role in the Color Purple was terminated after past remarks about homosexuality which she had made on social media came to public attention. The claim was dismissed in its entirety by the employment tribunal, along with an order that the claimant pay the respondents’ costs in full.

• Brooks v Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (2016-19): Successful defence of £5m whistleblowing claim brought by a consultant surgeon against an NHS Trust; the claimant was ordered to pay the respondent's costs in full, a decision upheld by the EAT.

• Noblemunn v H (2018-19): Acted for a barrister in a claim brought against her for race discrimination by a judicial office holder. The claim was held to have been vexatious and the clamant was ordered to pay H's costs in full.

• Ojiambo v Commonwealth Secretariat (2018-19): Acted for the former Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth challenging the non-renewal of her contract. The Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal held that the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC, had acted unlawfully and for an improper purpose in not renewing Dr Ojiambo's contract. Dr Ojiambo was awarded substantial compensation and costs.

• Venuprasad v Commonwealth Secretariat (2018-19): Acted for a senior Commonwealth official who had been accused of leaking confidential information to the Press. The Secretariat was held to have acted unlawfully in various respects. The applicant was awarded substantial compensation and costs, and the Commonwealth Secretariat's appeal was substantially rejected, again with costs.

• Efobi v Royal Mail Group Ltd [2019] ICR 750 [2019] IRLR 352 (CA): A leading case in which the EAT and Court of Appeal considered the burden of proof in discrimination claims, particularly where key decision-makers are not called to give evidence.

• Oni v Unison [2018] ICR 1111 [2018] IRLR 806: An appeal challenging the orthodox understanding that tribunals can only hear contractual claims where the respondent was the claimant's employer.

• Fox v British Airways (2012-18) [2013] ICR 1257 (CA and EAT): Claim by the estate of a deceased employee for life cover which was lost when he was unlawfully dismissed.

• C v S (2014): Secured a strike out of an exceptionally complex £10m race/whistleblowing claim brought against an NHS Trust.

• Sivanandan v LB Hackney [2013] ICR 671 (CA): Leading case concerning the apportionment of awards in discrimination cases.

• Community Law Clinic Solicitors v Methuen [2012] Eq. L.R. 880 (CA): Age discrimination case concerning the interplay between age, experience and pay and the tribunal's powers of strike-out.

• Hine Marketing Partnership v Talbot and others: A case concerning time limits in the EAT where one page of the documentation required for the valid submission of an appeal was supplied late.

• Jackson v Cambridgeshire County Council and Others: Successful appeal against a wasted costs order against a solicitor.

• Sheffield Forgemasters v Fox; Telindus v Brading [2009] ICR 333: An appeal concerning the effect of receipt of incapacity benefit on the ability to claim compensation for loss of earnings in discrimination and unfair dismissal claims.

• The Chagos Islanders' Group Litigation (QBD, CA and European Court of Human Rights): Claims brought by thousands of Indian Ocean islanders displaced to make way for US military base at Diego Garcia

• Orthet Ltd v Vince-Cain [2004] EWCA Civ 1613. Assessment of damages in discrimination cases.

• BCCI v Ali [2002] 1 AC 251: The leading case on the enforceability of settlement agreements.
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