She is ranked as a leading junior in Employment Law and Education Law in both Chambers & Partners UK and the Legal 500. She is one of the Attorney General’s Junior Counsel to the Crown (B Panel), a small panel of barristers appointed to advise and represent the UK government in civil cases in England and Wales.
Claire has appeared in over 20 full appeals in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, many of which have been reported. She has appeared both led and unled in the Court of Appeal, and as junior counsel in two matters before the European Court of Human Rights.
Claire is an experienced and skilled trial advocate. Chambers & Partners (2016) noted that Claire “is well known for the strength of her advocacy” and is “an excellent cross-examiner.” She appears very regularly in the Employment Tribunal, the County Court and the High Court. She has acted in a variety of mediations and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Claire’s recent significant cases include:
Claire undertakes a wide range of Employment work. Chambers & Partners 2015 records that “her practice spans all levels of employment law” and that she is “well-known for the strength of her advice on TUPE and discrimination cases.” The Legal 500 notes that Claire is a “very bright and hardworking junior” and that she is “commercially minded.”
Claire has particular interest in and experience of advising on TUPE, having appeared in several of the leading appellate cases on service provision changes (Rynda (UK) Ltd v Rhijnsburger and Enterprise v Connect-Up). She is regularly instructed in high value multi-party TUPE litigation, including the high profile and lengthy litigation after Jarvis Rail Ltd went into administration, and the recent Thomson Directories litigation. She has a good understanding of related aspects of corporate insolvency law.
Claire is known for her expertise in complex disability discrimination matters. She appeared in the leading case on disability status, J v DLA Piper, and has been instructed in a number of cases concerning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Many of Claire’s cases have a human rights dimension, and she has particular experience of cases that raise issues concerning a fair trial (Article 6), anonymity and privacy (Article 8) (eg Roden (G) v BBC and Brown v Met Police, please see here), freedom of religion (Article 9) and freedom of expression (Article 10) (eg Hill v Governing Body of Great Tey Primary School  ICR 691).
Claire has extensive experience of advising on goods and services discrimination issues, particularly those concerning the duty to make reasonable adjustments. She undertakes a significant amount of advisory work in this area, particularly in the transport, retail, education and financial services sectors. She has been instructed in many of the leading cases in this developing area of law, including acting as sole counsel for Arriva in Black v Arriva (see above).
Claire regularly appears in the High Court, including in wrongful dismissal, restrictive covenant, bonus and commission claims. She is regularly instructed to seek or resist applications for injunctive relief, most recently in the high profile War Horse litigation: Ashworth & Ors v National Theatre. She has been instructed in a number of LLP and partnership disputes, notably Tiffin v Lester Aldridge (on partnership status).
Claire is particularly well known for Public Law and Education cases which raise equality issues, including public sector equality duty cases. She was junior counsel in R v Bideford Town Council  2 All ER 1175, the high profile judicial review of the practice of saying prayers during meetings of the Town Council. Claire recently acted for the government in R (A) v Secretary of State for Justice CO/4210/2015, a judicial review regarding the provision of wheelchair accessible cells for disabled prisoners. She acts for the UK government and other public bodies in a wide range of public law matters, including education, equality and discrimination, human rights, freedom of information, data protection and commercial litigation.
Much of Claire’s Education work is in the High Court and County Courts. She regularly advises and represents schools, colleges, universities, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (the OIA), the Department for Education and individual students in relation to a wide range of education matters. She has extensive experience of judicial review claims in education matters. Claire’s recent education work has included an appeal against the removal of an independent school from the register of independent schools kept by the Department for Education, and acting for the OIA in a judicial review concerning the fitness to practise of a medical student. Chambers and Partners (2014) recognised that Claire is “highly regarded in the education field” and the 2016 edition notes that “she is incredibly pragmatic and proactive in approaching cases.”
Many of Claire’s cases involve EU law. She acted for the Appellant in Daler-Rowney Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners  ICR 63, on the compatibility of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 with Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. She is instructed as junior counsel in Walker v Innospec Ltd & Ors  ICR 182, on the “future effects principle” and whether EU law prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation has retrospective effect. Recent significant instructions include acting for the Secretary of State in White v Ministry of Justice and John v Ministry of Justice (and related cases), challenges based on EU law to the compulsory retirement age of 70 for judges and Employment Tribunal lay members. She is currently acting for HRMC as junior counsel in a group of related appeals, in which a reference to the CJEU is sought. Claire is a member of the European Employment Lawyers Association, the UK Association for European Law (UKAEL) and the Bar European Group.
Claire has lectured and written widely on matters within her expertise, including as a contributor to the ukscblog.com and eutopialaw.com blogs. Claire is co-author of the chapter on Discrimination in Employment in Bullen & Leake & Jacob’s Precedents of Pleadings, 18th edition, and the editor of the Practical Law Company’s Guide to Discrimination in the Provision of Goods and Services. She is also co-author of the chapter on the Relationship between Freedom of Information and Data Protection in the Law Society’s Freedom of Information Handbook (3rd edition, December 2012), and was a Contributing Editor of the Education Law Journal from 2012-5. Her article, Procedural Fairness on Appeal: Is O’Cathail No Longer Good Law?, was published in the Industrial Law Journal in September 2016 (Ind Law J (2016) 45 (3) pp 423-43).
Claire has been appointed to the Attorney General’s Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown (B Panel), and was previously a member of the C Panel.
Claire studied History at Cambridge University and EU Law at King’s College London. She has a very good working knowledge of both German and Spanish. She is an approved Pupil Supervisor, and sits on a Sub-Committee of the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee.
Claire accepts instructions under the Bar Council Standard Contractual Terms, details of which can be found here.
“Exceptionally bright and hardworking, and undoubtedly one of the leading lights on TUPE and discrimination.” (Legal 500 2016)
“An experienced appellate advocate, who is well known for the strength of her advocacy.”; “A well-prepared adviser and an excellent cross-examiner.” (Chambers & Partners 2016)
“She is incredibly pragmatic and proactive in approaching cases.” (Chambers & Partners 2016)
“She genuinely cares about her clients and their cases, and is not afraid to push boundaries” (Legal 500 2015)
“A very quick thinker on her feet, she is a rising star at the set.”; “A really strong advocate, she knows when and when not to be aggressive.”; “She is down to earth and clear in her explanations.” (Chambers & Partners 2015)
“An impressive advocate on special educational needs cases for appellants. She is confident and assertive, and takes a proactive approach to case strategy.” (Chambers & Partners 2015)
“Very reliable, and particularly strong in discrimination claims.” (Legal 500 2014)
“She’s very responsive and diligent, particularly on TUPE and discrimination claims.” (Chamber & Partners 2014)
“I would not hesitate to recommend her. She adopts a very proactive approach.” (Chamber & Partners 2014)
“Claire Darwin is a very bright and hardworking junior.” (Legal 500 2013)
“Claire Darwin is frequently instructed in Employment Tribunal and appellate matters by leading firms. Her recent cases include the collective redundancy case of Phillips v Xtera Communciations.” (Chambers & Partners 2013)
“Claire Darwin is gaining an increasing reputation for her appellate work, and has recently appeared before the ECHR. In other matters, she has been in the Court of Appeal on a case involving a child’s permanent exclusion from school, and has also handled an important case that could result in judicial guidance for Independent Appeal Panels on their role when determining discrimination claims.” (Chambers & Partners 2013)
“Recommended juniors include the ‘commercially minded’ Claire Darwin.” (Legal 500, 2012)
“Confident and assertive, she is a real star in the making (Chambers and Partners 2012)