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Paul Nicholls QC has a diverse practice which includes employment, commercial and public law work.

Much of his employment law work is conducted in the High Court, including restrictive covenant and team move cases, high value contractual claims, often involving related share and share option claims, shareholder disputes and claims involving directors’ breach of duty.

He has a particular expertise in unlawful competition and restraint of trade cases and is frequently instructed to apply for injunctions or resist such applications.

Paul is increasingly instructed to advise on and act in partnership disputes between LLPs and their members.

He also appears in and advises on proceedings in the employment tribunal, especially in cases where there are linked High Court proceedings or in substantial discrimination or whistleblowing claims.

He has developed a specialism in public procurement claims, acting mainly for local authorities and other public bodies. His cases include defending several High Court challenges to tender decisions taken by the Legal Services Commission.

Paul acts frequently in public law claims, including in the area of regulatory and disciplinary decisions. He acted for the Bar Standards Board in high profile judicial review claims, including a challenge to the legality of the system it operated for disciplining barristers.


High Court Employment and Restraint of Trade

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 an alleged ‘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.

White Digital Media v Weaver [2013] EWHC 1681: Acting for a defendant to defeat an application to enforce post-termination restraints.

RSM Tenon v Cocking [2013] EWHC 846: Acting for an independent financial adviser to enforce post-termination restraints.

Commercial Law

Besso v Bennett Gould, Commercial Court, May 2015: Acting for the defendant in a claim for damages for breach of a contract alleged to require the defendant to make payment for the transfer of clients.

Fanorder v Intracon, Chancery Division, 2013: Acting for the director of a company in defending a claim brought by a creditor under the Insolvency Act. The case also raised issues about the validity of service out of the jurisdiction and the extension of validity of a claim form.

Confidential arbitrations: In one arbitration, acting for a partner in an LLP in a dispute with an LLP. The question was whether the LLP had acted in repudiatory breach of the LLP agreement with the individual and, if so, whether he was entitled to accept the repudiation and end his membership of the LLP.

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

Pullen v CBRE, 2013-4: Acting for CBRE in a claim in the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination. The case also involved a High Court claim for breach of privacy.

Hainsworth v Ministry of Defence: Paul has been brought in to deal with an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in a case concerning disability discrimination. The application is to be heard in July 2015 when the Supreme Court will decide whether to make a reference to the CJEU.

Elys v Marks and Spencer plc and others [2014] ICR 1091, EAT: Acting for Marks & Spencer in an appeal to the EAT where a lay member of employment tribunal was alleged to have fallen asleep during hearing. The question was whether there was a procedural irregularity sufficient to vitiate the decision.

Peningault v Santander, 2014: Acting for Santander in a ‘whistleblowing’ unfair dismissal and race discrimination case brought by a highly paid salesman in the private banking section. The claimant withdrew his case following cross examination.

Regulatory and Disciplinary Cases

R. (Leathley and others) v. Visitors to the Inns of Court [2013] EWHC 3097 (Admin), QBD and [2014] EWCA Civ 1630: Acting for the Bar Standards Board in defeating a wide-ranging challenge to the validity of numerous Bar discipline decisions and to the system operated for the disciplining of barristers over a number of years.

McCarthy v Visitors to the Inns of Court [2013] EWHC 3253 and [2015] EWCA Civ 12: Acting for the Bar Standards Board in defending a judicial review challenge to the validity of a disciplinary decision taken against a barrister.

Public Law

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.

JG v Legal Services Commission [2013] EWHC 804; CA 2014; [2014] Fam Law 1097: Acted for the LSC in an important case about funding for expert reports in private law family cases.

R (APIL) v Secretary of State for Justice Divisional Court, 2013: Acting for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers in a challenge to the legality of the government’s decision to change the fees payable to solicitors in road traffic accident claims.

R (Reilly and Wilson) v Secretary of State for Employmen [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.


“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”