Douglas is a specialist employment & discrimination barrister. He has a well-rounded practice which encompasses all areas of employment, discrimination and collective labour law, including County/High Court matters and injunctive relief, sports-related disputes and internal/professional disciplinary matters. He further deals with discrimination issues arising outside the employment context (eg in the provision of services, in education and in partnership settings). Douglas has extensive experience in conducting appellate work in the EAT and Court of Appeal, as well as complex multi-week trials.
Douglas has focused on employment law for over 17 years, beginning with a master’s degree in labour law at UCL and followed by a successful career in research and editorial roles at leading employment law publications. His specialist expertise has been recognised with an appointment to the Attorney General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (2010) and consistent rankings in the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar.
He provides advice and representation in all areas of employment and collective labour law, including:
Douglas acts for both claimants and respondents/defendants, and firmly believes in maintaining this balance. He is regularly instructed on behalf of individuals and/or unions, and respondent clients have included NHS Trusts and Welsh Local Health Boards, schools and universities, Local Authorities, PLCs, government departments and a range of SMEs. He enjoys working as part of a wider legal team.
He remains a regular contributor to various publications, including Jordans’ Employment Law News and Comment, XpertHR/IRS Employment Law Bulletin and ELA Briefing. He sits on ELA Briefing’s Editorial Committee.
Douglas speaks regularly at seminars and webinars run by Chambers, the ELA, CLT and MBL Seminars. Recent subjects have included:
Prior to qualifying at the Bar, Douglas was Editor of Industrial Relations Law Bulletin (LexisNexis Butterworths IRS), going on to combine practice with a role as Senior Employment Law Writer/Editor for IDS Brief (IDS Thomson Sweet & Maxwell) and its related Handbooks and Supplements.
"He is also well versed in competition-related cases involving confidence breaches, restrictive covenants and injunction relief". - Chambers UK Bar 2019
"Has a well-rounded practice which encompasses all areas of employment, discrimination and collective labour law. He is frequently instructed in long and technically complex TUPE and disability discrimination matters. He also acts in employee competition cases involving breach of confidence and restrictive covenants." - Chambers UK Bar 2018
"His practice includes collective labour law." - Legal 500 2017
"Recommended for employee competition cases, involving breaches of confidence and injunctive relief." - Legal 500 2015
Douglas is carving a particular niche in this area, acting for both claimant/applicant employers and defendant/respondent employees alike in matters concerning alleged breaches of post-termination restrictive covenants and other contractual or fiduciary duties; breach of confidence; infringements of the database right; and associated issues concerning garden leave and economic torts.
He has a related further interest in cases involving applications for injunctive relief seeking to restrain dismissal in breach of contractual disciplinary procedures, and seeking to restrain industrial action.
Drawing on his employment law expertise, Douglas is able to provide specialist advice and representation in relation to claims for damages and/or injunctions arising out of the rights and obligations of players, managers, coaches and other staff of sports clubs, teams and other entities.
As a natural extension of his expertise and experience in employment law and disciplinary procedures (particularly in the health and education sectors), Douglas is able to assist with internal disciplinary and/or professional conduct matters in a variety of ways:
Countless case reports and commentaries for IRLB, XpertHR's Employment Law Bulletin, IDS Brief, Occupational Health Review, ELA Briefing and Jordans’ Employment Law Portal.
Junior - Band 2
Has a well-rounded practice which encompasses all areas of employment. He has significant experience in technically complex TUPE and disability discrimination matters. He is also well versed in competition-related cases involving confidence breaches, restrictive covenants and injunction relief.
Strengths: "Knows the law and is very user-friendly, approachable and responds within the timeframe".
Recent work: Acted for Exeter University in a complex disability discrimination claim brought by a claimant who alleged that they had suffered PTSD after encountering a student attempt suicide. This was a complex matter as the Employment Tribunal had to determine the point at which the claimant satisfied the definition of disability.
"Very analytical and a good strategist".
Junior - Band 2
Has a well-rounded practice which encompasses all areas of employment, discrimination and collective labour law. He is frequently instructed in long and technically complex TUPE and disability discrimination matters. He also acts in employee competition cases involving breach of confidence and restrictive covenants.
Strengths: “He is confident and persuasive in his arguments, and in his application of even the most intricate aspects of employment law.”
Recent work: Instructed in the Court of Appeal for the claimant in Young v NHS Business Services Authority, after a workplace injury caused a permanent loss of earning ability. The case was complicated by the claimant already having an underlying degenerative condition.
"His practice includes collective labour law".
Junior - Band 3
Has a well-rounded practice which encompasses all areas of employment, discrimination and collective labour law. He is frequently instructed in long and technically complex TUPE and disability discrimination matters.
Strengths: "His in-depth knowledge of complex areas of employment law is second to none." "He is confident and persuasive in his arguments and extremely reliable."
Recent work: Successfully resisted an appeal in the [Court of Appeal] case of Griffiths v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The claim concerned the difficult issue of attendance management and disability-related absence.
'He picks up issues quickly and effectively puts forward complex submissions under pressure.'
Junior - Band 3
Acts for both claimants and respondents and is often instructed on technically complex cases such as TUPE and disability discrimination matters, although his practice covers the full breadth of employment law.
Strength: "Clients are very impressed by his ability to produce evidence and really get to the bottom of things." "He's incredibly thorough in assessing a case, and he's prepared to stick to his guns and fight a case through."
Recent work: Instructed for the Department for Work and Pension in Griffiths v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, a case regarding the impact of disability-related absences on attendance management processes.
'Recommended for employee competition cases, involving breaches of confidence and injunctive relief'.
Leading Junior - Band 3
Has broad experience across a range of tribunal and appellate cases, notably in cases involving TUPE issues. He is also frequently instructed on disability discrimination matters.
Expertise: "He has an excellent analytical mind, and can floor people with academic points, which means he can't lose a case." "He is quick, efficient, focused, very knowledgeable and good with clients."
Recent work: Instructed by the Department for Work and Pensions on a complex tribunal case regarding disability-related absences.
'A strong all-rounder who frequently handles complex TUPE and disability discrimination cases'.
"Noted for his 'excellent ability to drill down to the important and winning points'".
"Covers the full spectrum of employment matters".
"Douglas Leach's 'technical ability shines through on complex cases'".
Junior Counsel to the Crown, Regional Panel (2010-15)
Editorial Committee, ELA Briefing
Employment Lawyers' Association
Discrimination Law Association
Industrial Law Society
Employment Law Bar Association
BVC (Very competent), Inns of Court School of Law, London
LLM (Labour Law), University College London
LLB (European Legal Studies), University of Southampton & Université de Nantes