Claire was named as one of the UK’s “Hot 100 Lawyers” by The Lawyer magazine in January 2020. She is recognised as a leading barrister for Employment, Education and Public Law by the independent legal directories. The Legal 500 2020 lists her as one of the top ten leading employment juniors at the London Bar. She was shortlisted for both Employment Junior of the Year and Public Law Junior of the Year in the Legal 500 UK Awards 2020.
According to recent editions, Claire is a “go-to barrister” who “has a complete forensic understanding of her cases” and “always gives it her all.” She is said to be “[a] very good advocate who has very good judgement” and “widely respected within the market for her expertise in employment and discrimination law, often with human rights and public law elements.” The Directories highlight that she is a “fearsome advocate” and “an excellent cross-examiner,” and that “she’s prepared to get off the fence and provides very clear and straightforward advice.”
Claire was appointed to the Attorney General’s A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown in June 2017, a small panel of barristers appointed to advise and represent the UK government in complex civil and EU cases. She has also been appointed to the Attorney General’s Panel of Special Advocates, and to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Panel of Preferred Counsel.
Claire was called to the Bar of Ireland on 19 July 2018, and is a member of the Law Library of Ireland.
Highlights of Claire’s recent work include:
A full list of her significant cases is available here.
Claire has a wealth of experience of litigating substantial high-stakes disputes in the Employment Tribunal, County Court and the High Court, and she consistently achieves outstanding results for her clients. She has particular experience of acting in group/multi-party litigation, and has acted in a variety of mediations, arbitrations and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Claire has experience of handling parallel civil, criminal and regulatory actions.
Claire has significant experience of advocacy, advisory and drafting work at appellate level. She has appeared both led and unled in the Court of Appeal, and as junior counsel in matters before the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. Claire has appeared in dozens of full appeals in the Employment Appeal Tribunal, many of which have been reported.
Claire’s practice covers all areas of individual and collective employment law, including whistleblowing, pay and contractual disputes and workplace privacy. She has wide experience of industrial relations issues including industrial action, collective bargaining and statutory recognition; and is well versed in the full range of statutory employment claims. Claire also acts in claims arising from director, LLP and partnership disputes, notably Tiffin v Lester Aldridge (on partnership status). She has a particular interest in and experience of very high value multi-party TUPE litigation, having appeared in a number of the leading cases on TUPE.
Claire’s discrimination work spans the fields of employment, goods and services, premises and education. She has handled many high-profile and high value discrimination and equal pay cases. She has a particular interest in age, sex and disability discrimination. She acted for the Ministry of Justice in the challenges to the compulsory retirement age of 70 for judges and lay members, and is lead counsel in Heskett – due to be heard by the Court of Appeal in 2020 – on justification of indirect age discrimination. Claire has extensive experience of complex disability discrimination cases, and is often instructed in high value cases where career long losses are claimed. She represented Arriva North East Limited in the high-profile group litigation about the use of wheelchair spaces on buses by non-disabled passengers, and is representing the College of Policing in a series of discrimination law challenges brought against the medical standards applied to Authorised Firearms Officers.
Claire regularly advises and represents schools, colleges, universities, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator, OFSTED, the Department for Education and individual students in relation to a wide range of education matters, including university regulation and discipline, Ofsted inspections, school closures, early years provision and local authority interventions. Her recent education work has included successfully representing Leicester University in the Court of Appeal in Thilakawardhana v Office of the Independent Adjudicator and University of Leicester  ELR 223, acting for Ofsted in a successful challenge to a High Court order preventing publication of an inspection report, and successfully challenging a decision by a local authority to amend an EHC Plan in R (S) v Camden Borough Council  ELR 129.
Claire is a member of the Attorney General’s A Panel and has been instructed in a wide range of public law cases both for and against local and central government. Her recent public law work has included a successful challenge to pensions regulations which treated men taking unpaid paternity leave and women taking unpaid maternity leave differently (see further details here), the judicial review of the pay award for 120,000 police officers (led by Helen Mountfield QC), and representing Govia in the judicial review claim brought by Southern rail commuters alleging disability discrimination.
Much of Claire’s work has an international element to it, and she has been instructed in a number of multi-jurisdictional and cross-border disputes. In addition to her work for the UK government, Claire has experience of advising in other common law jurisdictions, and she has advised foreign governments on issues of international human rights law and sovereign immunity arising in the UK.
Many of Claire’s cases involve EU law. Recent significant instructions include acting for HRMC as junior counsel in a group of related appeals, in which a reference to the CJEU is sought. Claire was called to the Irish Bar in 2018, and will retain her rights of audience in the European Court of Justice and General Court after the UK leaves the EU.
Claire studied History at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University. She has a very good working knowledge of both German and Spanish.
Claire was appointed to the Attorney General’s A Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown in June 2017. She was previously on the B and C Panels. She is an approved Pupil Supervisor, and sits on a Sub-Committee of the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee. Claire has been approved as an advocacy trainer for Inner Temple. She was recently elected to the Employment Law Bar Association’s Committee by her peers.
Claire has lectured and written widely on matters within her expertise. She 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 is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to clients, including advice and representation services, Claire needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes her client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matter upon which she is instructed. To read Claire’s privacy notice in full, please see here.
Claire is regulated by the Bar Standards Board and accepts instructions under Standard Contractual Terms. To find out more information on this and the way we work at Matrix, including our fee transparency statement, please see our see our service standards.
These articles and downloads are made available for general information purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such advice. The author and Matrix Chambers do not accept responsibility for the continuing accuracy of their contents.
“She has a complete forensic understanding of her cases and will fight to the end.” “She’s prepared to get off the fence and provides very clear and straightforward advice.” “Very knowledgeable in the field, able to come up with very novel points and a good person to have on the team.” (Chambers UK Bar 2020)
“Tenacious and up for a fight; always gives it her all.” (Legal 500 2020)
“Highly experienced advocate who is well known for her strength in discrimination cases and claims concerning TUPE.” “A very good advocate who has very good judgement.” (Chambers UK Bar 2019)
“Darwin has a track record of acting in high-profile cases.” “Her decision-making is first class.” (Chambers UK Bar 2019)
“A go-to barrister who is highly inventive and responsive.” (Legal 500 2019)
“She is responsive, supportive, inventive, enthusiastic and empathetic.” (Legal 500 2019)
“Forensic and incredibly thorough.” (Chambers UK Bar 2018)
“She’s very approachable and has good rapport with clients. Detailed in her research, she gives clear advice and is always available to speak about cases.” (Chambers UK Bar 2018)
“A highly regarded junior with a fast-developing and varied practice.” (Legal 500 2017)
‘Claire Darwin is widely respected within the market for her expertise in employment and discrimination law, often with human rights and public law elements. She is praised as “responsive, approachable, supportive, imaginative and decisive”. (Who’s Who Legal 2018)
“She is very good for technical discrimination matters”, (Legal 500 2017)
“Highly experienced advocate who is commended by clients for her extensive attention to detail and preparation for her cases. She’s a fearsome advocate and is very approachable.” , (Chambers UK Bar 2017)
“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.” (Chambers & Partners 2015)
“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.” (Chambers & Partners 2013)
“Claire Darwin is gaining an increasing reputation for her appellate work, and has recently appeared before the ECHR.” (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)