Nicholas is a specialist employment barrister with 22 years' experience and is the only Band 1 junior ranked in Chambers UK on the Western Circuit; a ranking he has had for over a decade. He is also head of the Employment & Discrimination Team at Guildhall Chambers.
Nick acts for a wide range of clients from multi-nationals, banks, health boards/trusts and SME's to representing the individual. He advises and represents his client across the spectrum of employment law including:
He is currently instructed in a number of very high worth / high profile whistleblowing cases in the public sector. Nick's has developed a reputation as the 'go to' advocate for defending claims in the NHS, where contested hearings are often lengthy, complex and of major significance /value. Nick has had significant recent success in a high publicity detriment and dismissal action against the police.
Nick has a particular specialisation in TUPE related insolvency matters including automatic unfair dismissal arising from administrations including pre packs, and liabilities arising from collective failure to consult.
He has evolved a particular interest in constructive unfair dismissal and has a number of notable appellate authorities to his name.
Increasingly employers are prepared to fight to protect their intellectual property and prevent the abuse confidence in the misuse of crucially important data. Nick is heavily involved in representing and advising individuals and more commonly employers with regards to contested injunctive / trial proceedings involving breaches of express covenants; breaches of the duty of confidence; database 'theft' and breaches of fiduciary duty in both the County Court and the High Court.
Nick has seen a significant growth in Appellate work both in the EAT and the Court of Appeal from a range of clients across a spectrum of issues who recognise that they need not use London counsel for this work. He has evolved a reputation as the “go to” lawyer for fighting and winning, high profile complex or 'must win' cases at first instance or on appeal.
He is very active in the Employment Lawyers Association and is currently engaged in delivering a programme of evening seminars across England and Wales. He has given high level training for ELA delegates for many years. As with all members of the team, Nick is happy to discuss providing bespoke in house training for clients and local law societies and has been interviewed in the media with regard to employment law issues. Nick was guest speaker at the R3 Regional training event in 2012 regarding the employment law implications of administration and failure to consult and he was guest speaker for the ICAEW in October 2013.
Nick has had articles published in the ELA Bulletin and in the Jordan Employment Law Portal on a range of topics from Pre action non party disclosure to the 'shares for employment rights' debate.
Given Nick's very extensive litigation experience in the ET and his ability to "look back from the sharp end," he is able to provide specialist advice and support for employers and employees facing serious internal disciplinary issues. The vast majority of contested tribunal proceedings involving alleged misconduct derive from poorly conducted investigations and disciplinary hearings. Nick is able to assess cases from the outset to ensure the best outcome for both employer and employee and to ensure that his services at trial are only need if absolutely necessary.
Nick has acted for a wide variety of individuals who have sought to avoid internal disciplinary sanction or consequential regulatory sanction from a FA referee seeking to contest a 5 year ban to medical student seeking an injunction to restrain her exclusion from medical school to a Consultant liver transplant specialist contesting an application by the GMC to extend interim suspension before the High Court.
The nature of Nicks employment/disciplinary practice, dovetailed with significant successes in the field of Whistleblowing has lead to increased volumes of instructions in this aspect of administrative law.
Nick as advised in relation to the contractual relationships between sportsmen and women and their employers/ associations over the last 22 years. In that time he has acted for:
Widely respected for his work on whistle-blowing, discrimination and unfair dismissal, including cases arising out of insolvency. He has vast experience of appellate work, and is highly regarded for complex and high-value cases that have commercial significance. He acts for both respondents and claimants.
"He's very approachable and is excellent with clients: they really like the standard of his work principally but the way he interacts with them is superb." "He's very commercial in his advice and very robust."
Recent work: Defended in complex whistle-blowing, unfair dismissal and victimisation claims. The schedule of loss was valued in excess of £3 million and there was major reputational risk if the case were to be lost.
‘His practice covers whistleblowing, discrimination and victimisation cases.’
Junior - Band 1
As head of the employment and discrimination team, he is widely respected for his work on whistle-blowing, discrimination and unfair dismissal, including cases arising out of insolvency.
Strengths: "Intelligent, knowledgeable, commercial and pragmatic."
Recent work: Acted for the respondent in Paul Rand v Atomic Weapons Establishment, a claim brought by a former senior atomic weapons engineer concerning serious allegations of whistle-blowing dismissal and disability discrimination.
‘Very experienced in whistleblowing matters.’
Junior - Band 1
As head of the set's employment and discrimination team, he is widely respected for his work on whistle-blowing and disability discrimination matters. He regularly gives lectures and seminars on employment issues across the country.
Strengths: "Nick can deal with any situation and clients are immediately reassured by his manner and confidence."
Recent work: Acted in Rhian Williams v ABMU Health Board, a disability discrimination case. Smith represented a recently dismissed senior midwife with chronic health issues.
'A sharp cross-examiner.'
Junior - Band 1
Work encompasses tribunal and High Court litigation relating to matter of database misuse, breach of fidelity or covenant, regulatory disciplinary work and high-profile whistleblowing. He has a particular focus on the medical sector.
Strengths: "He's incredibly knowledgeable and experienced and has a very good way with clients." "He sees the big picture and is personable."
Recent work: Acted for the respondent in Unite and Others v Interserve, a case concerning an alleged breach of pay arrangements which had been collectively agreed.
'His technical knowledge is second to none'.
Leading Junior - Band 1
A leading junior with vast experience across all manner of employment disputes, from tribunal hearings to prominent High Court litigation. He has had particular success in whistle-blowing actions both for and against public sector clients.
Expertise: "He is incredibly commercial, and talks in English rather than legalese. His written advice is very succinct and clear." "He is a very experienced advocate who gets to the crux of a case quickly."
Recent work: Acted for an employee of Royal Mail in a high-profile unfair dismissal case against his employers, concerning the claimant's dismissal for accidentally obscuring cages of mail with empty cages. The matter involved trade union involvement.
'A leading employment specialist who has recently acted on high-profile whistleblowing cases'.
Nicholas Smith successfully represented former police officer Michael Baillon in a high-profile constructive dismissal and whistleblowing case.
"He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of employment law and is a very experienced advocate."
Team head Nicholas Smith is 'excellent with clients, has a robust approach, and is skilful in his advocacy'.
"The best employment barrister in the Southwest."
"An excellent barrister who goes the extra mile for his clients."
"Head of team Nicholas Smith recently acted in significant dismissal discrimination and victimisation claims in the employment tribunal."
"Nicholas Smith is a highly respected employment specialist. Commentators applaud his client-handling abilities, stressing his skill at "putting advice in words the client can understand." He is particularly recommended for discrimination matters."
"Nick Smith takes a very straightforward approach and provides clear and cogent analysis of a case along with practical recommendations."
"Nicholas Smith is highly rated in the field and impresses market commentators with his "sensitive client manner and pragmatic advice." He is renowned for his expertise in discrimination cases."
"Nick Smith is very good at getting to the important aspects."
"Nicholas Smith is a highly regarded discrimination expert. He is much in demand due to the fact that he 'has a tenacious spirit' and fosters excellent relationships with clients."
"Nicholas Smith is a 'terrific cross-examiner' and discrimination expert who 'always strikes the right note with clients and commands market respect for being 'bullish when required.' Boasting a particular forte in sexual harassment,(!) he has been instructed by two major high street clearing banks, and has been involved in a number of tribunals in higher education.")
"Knowing employment law inside out, Nicholas Smith has amassed such extensive tribunal experience that few can claim to have more."