Bruce Frew

Call 2005

Bruce Frew

Introduction

One of the most highly ranked practitioners in the country (Tier 1, Legal 500, 2021), Bruce is an ‘out and out’ employment specialist. He is highly sought after for some of the most complex, technically demanding and high stakes cases across several circuits and has the distinction of being described as ‘fantastic’ in the most recent edition of Legal 500, who also highlight some of his recent successes for the global giant Amazon.

Bruce is regularly called upon to represent Claimants and Respondents alike in the appellate courts, notably in the Employment Appeals Tribunal – continuing his highly regarded reputation there. Bruce has an extensive and broad employment practice operating across a multitude of sectors. Bruce receives instructions from leading global conglomerates, national ‘household name’ companies, SMEs, local authorities, universities, trade unions and leading law firms. Increasingly Bruce also receives prominent instructions from private individuals by virtue of his direct access accreditation. As such and in recent years, he has developed a rare specialism acting for professional persons such as doctors, consultants, dentists and others, either in the Employment Tribunals or in respective industry disciplinary proceedings.

A former solicitor with a ‘hands on’ and ‘no nonsense’ approach, Bruce is known for his communicative, supportive and considered style. Indeed, many professional clients regularly turn to Bruce for their advisory, drafting and representation needs because of his commercially driven ability to unlock novel solutions. As a perfect complement to his remarkably active Tribunal practice, Bruce also drafts and advises on settlement agreements, service agreements and commercial agency agreements and has been involved in the negotiation on a direct access basis of terms of settlement on the termination of employment. He also represents parties in judicial and non-judicial employment mediations, provides CPD training and participates in mock Employment Tribunal training with the CIPD and Institute of Directors.

Employment

As an ‘out and out’ specialist, Bruce is a true ‘all-rounder’ in the employment arena and there are very few specialisms of the discipline that he cannot cover effectively. Primarily Bruce is sought out for complex, multi day Tribunal hearings focused on high stakes discrimination, whistleblowing, redundancy and dismissals issues. However, he also regularly advises on issues concerning the Working Time Regulations, victimisation, the national minimum wage, Equal Pay claims and trade union issues.

 

Historically Bruce maintained an evenly balanced Claimant and Respondent client portfolio, though as his practice has evolved, he now enjoys a more Respondent-focused balance of work. Amongst those respondents, Bruce counts leading national supermarkets, international banks, global retailers and leading public bodies as trusted clients. However, despite this leaning, Bruce continues to also act for a wide array of Claimants, many of whom value his ability to horizon scan the issues a Respondent may pose. Over many years, Bruce has been a regular visitor to the EAT and maintains one of the busiest employment appellate practices on the circuit.

 

A snapshot of Bruce’s extensive experience includes:

 

  • Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust v Blake – UKEAT/0430/14/BA – in which Bruce considered complex claims of victimization discrimination and unfair dismissal;
  • Romanowska v Aspirations Care Ltd – UKEAT/0015/14/SM – in which Bruce considered highly technical issues concerning Employment Tribunal practice and procedure, notably involving the striking out of claims and victimization discrimination arising from protected disclosures;
  • Eddie Stobart Ltd v Moreman and Others – UKEAT/0223/11/2T – Bruce successfully represented the Respondent at EAT (Claimant at the ET) on issues involving a consideration of the test on meaning of organised grouping under TUPE;
  • Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust v Akinwunmi, Norris & Others – UKEAT/0345/16/BA – appearing for the First Respondent, Bruce considered complex and novel issues of Employment Tribunal practice and procedure concerning perversity and contribution;
  • East Midlands Trains Ltd v Hogg – UKEATPA/0906/11/RN – Successfully represented the Respondent at the EAT (Claimant at ET) to resist a claim that the ET had substituted its view of the employer in an unfair dismissal;
  • BT Managed Services Ltd v Edwards & Ericsson Ltd – UKEAT/0241/14/MC – appearing for the First Respondent against a QC for the Appellant, Bruce successfully defended an appeal concerning technically complex elements concerning a Service Provision Change in the context of TUPE;
  • Warby v Wunda Group Plc – UKEAT/0434/11/LEN – Bruce successfully represented the Respondent (both at ET and EAT) where ET were entitled to find that an accusation of lying about miscarriage was not pregnancy harassment;
  • Callow Building Services v Anthony [2012] UKEAT0136/11/2203 – in which Bruce considered the issue of substitution by the Employment Tribunal;
  • Crooks v Ladbrokes Betting & Gambling Ltd [2018] – UKEAT/0173/18/00 – in which Bruce considered a complex claim of unfair dismissal;
  • South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust v Billingsley [2015] – UKEAT/0341/15/DM – in which Bruce considered complex issues of disability discrimination (failure to make reasonable adjustments, discriminatory dismissal and discrimination arising from disability); and
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council v Cawley [2017] UKEAT – in which Bruce considered complex issues in relation to disability discrimination (reasonable adjustments, discriminatory dismissal & apportionment).

Aside from Bruce’s extensive list of EAT decisions above, he has also represented clients in issues of religious and belief discrimination, notably concerning a school teacher wearing a veil at work and, separately, whether Rastafarianism constitutes a “religion” for the purposes of the Race Relations Act 1976 before the EAT.

High Court Employment / Contractual Issues

A natural complement and evolution of Bruce’s thriving employment practice, Bruce is increasingly sought after in respect of complex issues at the interface of employment and commercial contracts. In his busy advisory practice in this area, Bruce covers issues including restrictive covenants and wider restraint of trade, payment /non-payment of bonuses, the interpretation and construction of complex commercial clauses and injunctions in the High Court.

A final additional area of specialism linked to the above, Bruce also represents professional persons such as doctors, nurses, consultants, dentists, accountants and others. These instructions tend to come to Bruce directly via his Public Access accreditation and reflect Bruce’s well-earned reputation at delivering exceptional results in even the most unpredictable of situations.

Working with Bruce

A former solicitor, Bruce has a clear insight into the pressures his professional clients must continually balance. It is no surprise that many of Bruce’s closest clients have turned to him for many years. They value and trust in his style, which is to calmly assess the issues, communicate the available options effectively and, where required, leverage his extensive expertise to unlock novel, sometimes game-changing, solutions. Serving as a trusted ‘sounding board’ for some of the UK’s most senior employment law solicitors, Bruce’s hands on approach means he is happy for his clients to call him directly to talk through the issues.

Bruce’s finely honed commercial approach means that he takes a naturally dispassionate view of the issues. Clients say that his ability to consider and sum up the reputational, financial, precedential and governance issues in a given case or settlement are invaluable. Despite being a consummate Tribunal advocate with an ability, when needed, to be devastating in cross-examination, Bruce also recognizes the benefits of settlement. In short, Bruce is therefore able to deliver a balanced, considered and tailored service each time.

Reported Cases

BT Managed Services Ltd v Edwards

Azmi v Kirklees MBC [2007] UK EAT 2009 : religion and belief discrimination – school teacher wearing a veil at work

Harris v NKL Automotive Ltd [2007] UK EAT : religion and belief discrimination – whether Rastafarianism constitutes a “religion” for the purposes of the Race Relations Act 1976)

Eddie Stobart Ltd v Moreman and Others UKEAT/0223/11/2T: Successfully represented the Respondent at EAT (Claimant at the ET) – test on meaning of organised grouping under TUPE

Callow Building Services Ltd v Mr C P Anthony: Successfully represented the Appellant at the EAT (Respondent at the ET) on conduct and contribution to dismissal

Warby v Wunda Group Plc UKEAT/0434/11/LEN: Successfully represented the Respondent (both at ET and EAT) where ET were entitled to find that an accusation of lying about miscarriage was not pregnancy harassment.

East Midlands Trains Ltd v Mr D M Hogg UKEAT PA/0906/11/RN: Successfully represented the Respondent at the EAT (Claimant at ET) – resisting a claim that the ET had substituted its view of the employer in an unfair dismissal.

Education

LLB, University of Dundee
LLM, University of Leeds
Lincolns Inn

Appointments and Memberships

Employment Lawyers Association

Employment Law Bar Association

The Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn

Industrial Law Society

North East Circuit

Midlands Circuit

Testimonials

Bruce is a top ranked (Tier 1) leading junior for employment in the 2021 edition of Legal 500.
“Bruce is a fantastic down to earth and approachable barrister who is open to contact and discussion with us as his instructing solicitors. His advice is always accurate and honest and he delivers this to clients in a no-nonsense way. You always know where you stand with him and he has never let me down.” Legal 500 2021
“The ‘fantastic‘ Bruce Frew recently represented Amazon in a discrimination claim brought by a litigant in person against a recruitment agency and the e-commerce giant, the agency’s client – the unfair dismissal claim against Amazon was struck out.” Legal 500 2021
“Bruce’s work has included acting for claimants and respondents in claims for protected disclosures as well as protected characteristics in the context of pregnancy and disability. Instructing solicitors say of Frew: ‘He actively assists with prep for ET matters to ensure a full team effort for the clients and the clients trust him and more importantly like him.’.” Legal 500 2021
"Confident and charismatic with a no-nonsense approach." Legal 500 2020
"A charismatic and robust cross-examiner." Legal 500
"A pure employment specialist." Legal 500