Anthony Johnston

Call 1993

Anthony Johnston

Introduction

Over his 28 years in practice, Anthony has built up a formidable reputation as one of the most clinical and fearless advocates on the circuit. Now an ‘out and out’ employment specialist with a rounded background in criminal and personal injury law, clients turn to Anthony time and again for his vast experience in all areas of employment law, his meticulous approach and preparation, as well as his incisive brand of advocacy. As one commentator put it, Anthony is “not afraid to go for the jugular in cross-examination, when needed”.

Once described by Legal 500 as, “the ultimate professional and the ideal counsel for those complex matters that just need something extra”, Anthony is a veteran in the Employment Tribunal and in the EAT. Anthony’s remarkably active practice, of late, has tended to consist of complex and multi-day cases for some of the UK’s most high-profile employers, as well as leading national Claimant firms. With unique complementary focus areas in representing both law firm and sets of barristers in respect of employment issues, and in employment issues in the sports arena (including, for example, representing the Managing Director of a professional football club), Anthony offers a truly rounded employment coverage and perspective.

Many of Anthony’s clients have trusted him with their work for years, if not decades. Overwhelmingly, they comment that Anthony’s down-to-earth and approachable style is refreshing and makes him easy, often enjoyable, to work with. Not one for jargon or legalese, Anthony understands the importance of setting out issues and explaining options both clearly and plainly. A by-product of appearing day-in, day-out in Employment Tribunals across the UK (and, lately, via CVP), Anthony is also able to provide clients with the latest procedural updates, legislative and case-law developments and trends in terms of determinations.

Outside of the law, Anthony is well travelled and enjoys exploring other cultures. He is fluent in Italian, having previously lived and worked in Italy. He also has a good working knowledge of French and Spanish.

Employment

As a dedicated employment specialist, Anthony is able to cover all areas of employment law, even the most esoteric and technically complex sub-specialisms. Owing to his seniority and the complex consistency of his day-to-day practice, Anthony is most frequently instructed in technically demanding cases concerning whistleblowing, discrimination, unfair, wrongful & constructive dismissal, TUPE, holiday pay issues, redundancy (including collective consultations), National Minimum Wages issues and working time issues. Anthony also has experience of dealing with quasi-employment and contractual issues, including restrictive covenants and breach of contract. Anthony is also regularly instructed to conduct multi-Claimant cases, often requiring his significant strategic and tactical support.

Anthony’s practice has evolved over the years and he now maintains a broadly Respondent-leaning practice, though is also regularly instructed on high profile and multi-day Claimant cases. As an example, Anthony serves as one of the ‘go-to’ barristers for one of the UK’s leading Claimant law firms, and is called upon for complex and ‘high stakes’ cases for medium size Claimant firms with national reach. Generally, Anthony’s vast experience means he is sector-agnostic and comfortable in almost any environment, sector or industry. That aside and in recent years, he has acted for 3 of the UK’s largest ‘household name’ retailers, prominent firms, sets in the legal sector, various sporting organisations, FTSE 100 companies, local authorities, SMEs and global outsourcing companies.

Anthony is an experienced and well-respected appellate advocate, notably before the EAT and he is able to act as an ‘independent person / decision-maker’ in internal disciplinary hearings on behalf of both employees and management. Predominantly an advocate, Anthony also has a significant advisory practice and is regularly asked to draft and respond to complex Scott Schedules.

A snapshot of Anthony’s vast employment experience includes appearing in the following reported cases:

  • P. Bradley v London School of English and Foreign Languages Limited UKEAT/0011/18/LA (2018): Anthony acted for the Respondent (both to the appeal and the original claim), in a case concerning a failure by the Tribunal to follow the correct approach to proportionality in considering the issue of justification in an indirect discrimination claim. The matter was remitted to the original Tribunal and (as it had originally been) his client’s justification defence was upheld.
  • Campbell v OCS Group UK Limited UKEAT/0188/16/DA (2017): Anthony acted for the Respondent to the appeal (which had also been the Respondent below). The appeal was concerned with the interaction between Rules 51 and 52 of the ET rules and, in particular, a refusal by the Tribunal below to reconsider a judgment dismissing a claim that had been withdrawn. The appeal was allowed insofar as the EAT remitted the case to the ET for the application for reconsideration to be properly considered. It was and the application for reconsideration was again refused.
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust v Westwood UKEAT/0032/09 (2009): Anthony acted for the Respondent to the appeal (the Claimant at first instance) in an appeal concerning whether the tribunal had substituted its own judgment for that of the employer in determining that particular conduct could not properly be characterised as gross misconduct.

A sample of Anthony’s wider employment experience, gained over more than 20 years, includes:

  • Karen Gillard v Goldsmith Chambers (Services) Ltd (Case No. 2200174/2017); (2019 judgment). Anthony acted on behalf of the Respondent in successfully resisting all of the claims that had been brought by the Claimant (who was a former tenant of a Barrister’s Chambers who had additionally been engaged by Chambers on a paid basis to undertake various work). Her claims included complex allegations of whistleblowing, sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination. In addition to the judgment being available online, there was national press coverage of the outcome, including here in The Times.
  • Successfully representing The Rationalist Association, the prominent UK literature organization, in resisting complex and interrelated claims including whistleblowing, automatic unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal (Judgments available online: 2301850/2016 and 2302431/2016).
  • Successfully representing The Deafness Resource Centre Limited in resisting claims of discrimination arising from disability and a failure to make reasonable adjustments (Judgment available online: 2405115/2016).
  • Successfully representing St John Ambulance in resisting a claim of race discrimination (Judgment available online: 2600030/2017).
  • Successfully representing the former Managing Director of a then Football League club in both the Employment Tribunal and in the Employment Appeals Tribunal in a high-profile and exhaustively contested unfair dismissal claim. Anthony’s client had been dismissed following a takeover by American owners, who sought to assume control of all aspects of the football club.
  • Successfully representing Catalyst Housing Association in resisting a claim of unfair dismissal (Judgment available online: 2200832/2017).
  • Caitlin Stephenson v Progressive Care Limited (2021 decision): Anthony successfully acted on behalf of the Respondent (a specialist provider of residential care and support services for individuals with a variety of complex care requirements) in resisting a claim of automatic unfair dismissal arising out of a number of alleged instances of whistleblowing.
  • Miss G Cummins v Tracy Robins (Sociable Canines) 2302552/2019; (2020 decision): Anthony successfully acted on behalf of the Respondent in defeating a claim by the Claimant (who was one of the dog walkers in a dog walking organisation run by the Respondent) that she had the status of a worker for the purposes of employment legislation.
  • A Taj v Capita Business Services Limited 1810885/2018; (2019 decision): Anthony successfully acted for the Respondent in defeating a claim (both on jurisdictional and, in the alternative, substantive grounds) presented by the Claimant that it had failed to make reasonable adjustments.
  • Philip Oldershaw v (1) Bar Fibre Ltd (2) Viaduct Leisure Limited (3) Mission (Leeds) Limited (Case No. 1811390/2018); (liability judgment 2019; remedy judgment 2020): Anthony acted on behalf of the Claimant in a claim including unfair dismissal and whistleblowing. Whilst the whistleblowing complaint was unsuccessful, he was successful in obtaining the maximum possible award upon the Claimant’s ordinary unfair dismissal claim.
  • A Swift v National Business College 180176/2020; (2020 decision): Anthony successfully acted on behalf of a Claimant in an unfair dismissal claim arising out of purported redundancy with the Tribunal finding that the Respondent had failed to establish that this was, in fact, the reason for the Claimant’s dismissal.
  • Successfully acting for the owner of a National Hunt racing yard in relation to multiple claims (including constructive unfair dismissal and sex discrimination) brought against him by the former Head Girl of the racing yard.

Additionally, Anthony also recently undertook advisory work in relation to a potential breach of TUPE Regulations in relation to the provision of employee liability information following two large scale service provision transfers relating to the cleaning of aircraft at major UK airports. Anthony has also recently been involved in assisting a former employee of the FA (Football Association) in the presentation of a complex claim of constructive dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation.

Working with Anthony

Anthony’s disarming and approachable nature often leads professional and lay clients alike to comment that “in the most positive way, he is not at all what one would expect when thinking about a typical barrister”. Professional clients value Anthony’s adaptable, versatile style. On the one hand, armed with a lengthy background of difficult or robust cross examination in the criminal courts, Anthony can be as direct, incisive and devastating as they come, whilst on the other hand able to build consensus and persuade on a tactful, empathetic level when it comes to closing submissions or settlement negotiations.

Keen to maintain and develop positive relationships with his professional clients, Anthony is often referred to as ‘easy to work with’ and his good sense of humour is particularly valued in challenging cases. Anthony’s background in the field of personal injury give him an advantage in dealing with the complex medical issues that often arise in disability discrimination cases, a focus area in which Anthony has conducted seminars, as well as on age discrimination, sex discrimination, and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.

Education

MA Cantab (Magdalene College, Law)
Bar Vocational Course – Inns of Court School of Law

Appointments and Memberships

Employment Lawyers Association

Employment Law Bar Association

The Honourable Society of Middle Temple

Testimonials

"The ultimate professional and the ideal counsel for those complex matters that just need that something extra." Legal 500