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Paul Nicholls QC has a diverse practice which includes employmentcommercial, regulatory and public law work. Paul is able to move flexibly between this diverse range of areas, spotting links between different areas of law.

A major part of his practice is in High Court employment and related commercial work.  This involves urgent applications for injunctions and related relief, including search and freezing orders, applications to enforce post-termination restraints, to prevent team moves and for springboard relief and orders for the interrogation of computers in order to identify and delete confidential information. This work also involves substantial trial litigation such as team move claims, wrongful dismissal, bonus claims and restrictive covenant and garden leave trials. He also undertakes purely commercial cases involving a range of contractual disputes and commercial arbitrations.

As an example of the overlap between areas of practice, his injunction experience has led to work in a range of areas including restraining an individual from purporting to provide legal services to clients of a firm of solicitors contrary to the Legal Services Act and securing an injunction to prevent a local authority election being held.

He also undertakes the full range of statutory employment work, including heavy discrimination and whistleblowing claims which often entail multi-week hearings. He is also involved in cases which raise novel or difficult points of law, such as whether holiday pay had to include pay for voluntary overtime. He has appeared in the EAT and Court of Appeal on numerous occasions in connection with this work, in the widest range of cases such as whistle blowing, age discrimination, associative disability discrimination and members of a tribunal who fall asleep.

This work frequently has an international element and he has to advise and formulate arguments based on jurisdiction and applicable law, often seeking to avoid courts and tribunals claiming jurisdiction over litigants or persuading the English court to take jurisdiction, as in one case where he secured an injunction in England to restrain action in connection with a team move in the UAE.

He also undertakes public law cases. When on the AG’s A panel, he was involved in high profile cases for the government including the Northern Rock litigation, the challenge to the Legal Aid Agency’s family law tender and the lawfulness of the ‘work for your benefit’ system.

More recently, he has appeared in cases as diverse as a challenge to the funding of expert reports in family law proceedings, a case concerning legal aid for those bringing claims alleging deprivation of liberty, a human rights challenge to the operation of the ‘statutory charge’ which renders publicly funded litigants liable for payment of their own costs from a damages award and so may reduce that award and a challenge to the publication of a report by Ofsted. He also acted for the Bar Standards Board in challenges to disciplinary decisions.

A related area of practice is procurement law. He acted in a series of challenges to the awards of contracts by the Legal Aid Agency and has advised local authorities and others.


High Court Employment and Restraint of Trade

HM Prison Service v Prison Officers Association. Securing an injunction to restrain a strike by prison officers.

King & Wood Mallesons v Goodwin Procter Acting for a former partner in a law firm and his new firm in a damages claim following an alleged team move.

AJ Gallagher v Skriptchenko [2016] EWHC 603. Acting for a company in obtaining wide-ranging delivery up and confidentiality orders.

Dyson v Pellerey [2016] ICR 688. Acting for Dyson to enforce a non-compete post-termination provision.

A.T. Kearney v Baigorri and Oliver Wyman Limited [2014] EWHC 4419 (QB): Acting for the claimant in an application for interim relief to restrain English defendants from taking further steps to orchestrate a team move of employees from the claimant to a competitor in the UAE.

Elsevier Ltd v Munro [2014] IRLR 766: Acting for the defendant in opposing an application for a ‘garden leave’ type injunction to restrain an employee working for another business during his notice period.

Acting for employers in two cases to secure freezing orders over the assets of employees who had been syphoning money away.

Commercial Law

Catalyst Management Services v Libya Africa Portfolio [2018] EWCA Civ 1676.  Appeal against dismissal of claim for failing to provide security for costs.

Maxwell Alves v Kounis, 2018. Obtaining injunctions on behalf of a law firm to restrain someone formerly associated with it from having dealings with clients and providing legal services.

Besso v Bennett Gould, Commercial Court, 2015: Acting for the defendant in a claim for damages for breach of a contract arising from the sale of an underwriting nook of business.

Confidential arbitrations: In one arbitration, acting for a partner in an LLP in a dispute with an LLP concerning whether the LLP had acted in repudiatory breach of the LLP agreement with the individual and whether it could enforce post-termination restraints.

In a second arbitration, acting for a public authority in a breach of contract claim brought by a supplier whose contract the authority had terminated.

Employment Tribunal Claims and Appeals

Flowers v East England Ambulance NHS Trust, CA May 2019. Whether the calculation of holiday pay had to include pay for voluntary overtime.

Armes v TwistDX. Acting for the employer in a whistleblowing claim involving numerous international jurisdiction issues.

Gibson v Santander. Acting for Santander in a lengthy disability discrimination claim.

Kelly v PGA European Tour. Acting for the employer in the tribunal and EAT in defeating an age discrimination claim.

Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence: Application to the Supreme Court in a case concerning disability discrimination seeking a reference to the CJEU.

Regulatory and Disciplinary Cases

McCarthy [2015] EWCA Civ 12, Mehey [2014] EWCA Civ 1630, Leathley [2013] EWHC 3097, defending claims against the Bar Standards Board challenging disciplinary decisions.

Public Law

R (Faulkner) v Director of Legal Aid Casework [2019] 1 WLR 560. Acting for the Legal Aid Agency in a case concerning the legality of the ‘statutory charge’ applied to damages awards made to legally aided parties.

Jones v Wigan Council [2018] EWHC 528. Acting for a local authority councillor to restrain the holding of an election.

Proprietors of AB School v Ofsted. Preventing the publication of a critical report by Ofsted.

Bogdanic v Home Secretary [2014] EWHC 2872: Appointed by the Attorney-General to act as advocate to the Court in a difficult case about whether the government could impose fines on hauliers who brought illegal immigrants into the UK in circumstances where there was an error in the legislation which introduced the power to impose the fines.

R (Reilly and Wilson) v Secretary of State for Employment [2013] EWCA Civ 66: Appeared for the Secretary of State in the Administrative Court and Court of Appeal in challenges to the legality of schemes requiring benefit claims to undertake work as a condition of receiving benefit.

Privacy Notice

Paul is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. In order to provide legal services to his clients, including advice and representation services, Paul needs to collect and hold personal data. This includes his client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the matter upon which he is instructed. To read Paul’s privacy notice in full, please see here.


“Exceptionally good with the clients and devastating in his cross-examination”

“Very able and extremely hardworking, and top-rate on complex contractual disputes”

“A fiercely bright and knowledgeable barrister who is good with solicitors as well as their clients and instils complete confidence.”

“He is very knowledgeable, practical and good at helping you achieve your commercial aim.”

“He always does a fantastic job, especially on restrictive covenants”

“A fiercely bright and knowledgeable barrister who instils complete confidence in both instructing solicitors and clients”

“Exceptionally bright and someone to use for complex High court litigation”

“Calm, clever, practical and an excellent performer in court”

“Extremely bright, commercially astute and a lovely guy to deal with”

“Extremely clear and concise advocate with great tactical nous”

“Technically very competent yet down to earth with clients”

“A great advocate who does not sit on the fence”

“Always on top of the papers, turning work around quickly”