Sophie Garner

Call: 1990


Sophie is an experienced specialist in employment and discrimination law, whose work encompasses cases in the Employment Tribunal, the EAT, professional disciplinary tribunals, and the County or High Court.  Recognised by the directories as being “very knowledgeable” and “quick to win a client’s confidence”, Sophie’s personable manner and tenacity are characteristics that are appreciated by her lay and professional clients

She also covers all aspects of restraint of trade and directorial disputes, and she is adept at disentangling the governance disputes between directors/trustees and senior executive employees that can lead to conflict in both corporate and voluntary sector organisations. She has experience of appearing before a number of regulatory bodies including the GMC and NCTL.

As well as the usual range of discrimination cases in the employment tribunal, Sophie’s practice extends to cover discrimination claims in the county court, such as discrimination in the provision of goods and services, education, and clubs and associations.

Sophie lectures regularly on employment and discrimination law and was called to give evidence on behalf of the Discrimination Law Association in November 2012 to the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace.

She has extensive experience of voluntary work as a director and charity trustee and won the Birmingham Law Society’s Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year award in 2019. She successfully was also nominated as one of the Attorney General’s “Pro Bono Heroes” for 2009. Sophie is Vice-Chair of the Midland Circuit Women’s Forum.

Sophie is also a member of St Philips Business and Property Group (Restraint of Trade)

What the directories say:

  • Legal 500 2019: “Very knowledgeable and accessible.”
  • Legal 500 2017: “Quick to win a client’s confidence.”
  • Legal 500 2016: “A specialist in discrimination law”
  • Legal 500 2015:  Someone who “wins the trust and respect of clients”
  • Legal 500 2014:  “A very capable and effective advocate”
  • Legal 500 2013:  “client friendly” with the ability to “get to grips with the detail of a difficult issue”
  • Legal 500 2011: “technically strong and client friendly”.

Recent Cases:

A sample of cases showing Sophie’s typical work:

  • Advising and representing a consultant against an NHS Trust on a claim of whistleblowing at a 10 day hearing
  • Advised and represented a local authority in a long running (five year) series of claims by a litigant in person involving a number of substantive hearings (the longest being 34 days) involving claims of race and disability discrimination.
  • Advising and representing a woman who had been unlawfully expelled from a Sports Club after complaining of discrimination against women members.
  • Representing a head teacher, based at a Muslim school, on a 10 day hearing before the NCTL and a subsequent five day ET hearing;
  • Advising an international sales representative of the applicability of restrictive covenants in the light of an impending injunction hearing.
  • Representing a female professional pilot during a lengthy capability/disciplinary process with counter allegations of discrimination.
  • Successfully represented a corporate accountant in a claim of sex (pregnancy) discrimination and detriment in relation to a request to work flexibly. Included a fully contested remedy hearing.
  • Complex TUPE matter involving allegations of fragmentation of assets amongst numerous subsidiaries in order to defeat the application of the regulations. Despite numerous setbacks and delaying tactics on the part of the putative transferee, a successful settlement was finally achieved.
  • Advising a charity as to whether action could be taken in relation to discrimination by a religious place of worship or whether the provisions of Schedule 23 to the Equality Act 2010 applied.

Reported Cases:

  • Herry v Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (2016) UKEAT/0100/16 & 0101/16/LA – represented the Respondent in this appeal brought by an ET claimant against a £110,000 order for costs against him, and on the issue of whether his mental health condition amounted to a disability.
  • Greco v Ms D Greco v General Physics UK Ltd (2016) UKEAT/0114/16/DM – Successfully defended this appeal against the ET’s decision to dismiss a claim of sex discrimination. Grounds of appeal related to adequacy of reasons and bias and the enforceability of s.111A (pre-termination discussions) – see article here.
  • Pnaiser v NHS England and Coventry City Council [2016] IRLR 170 – Disability discrimination – s.15 ‘discrimination because of something arising from disability’. Guidance given on the burden of proof at each stage of the s.15 analysis.
  • Governing Body of St Michael’s Church of England Junior and Infant School v Smith (2014) UKEAT/0165/14/KN – appeal on the grounds of apparent bias against the ET’s finding that the Claimant had been unfairly dismissed. Appeal successful.
  • Simpson v Intralinks [2012] I.L.Pr. 34; [2012] Eq. L.R. 732 (EAT) – Employee brought claim in UK Tribunal under German contract of employment. EAT considered the allocation of jurisdiction under conflict of laws in cases with overseas employees, where sex discrimination and equal pay claims made.
  • Owens v Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council [2011] I.C.R. 453 (CA) – determination by the Court of Appeal of whether a counsellor working in education qualified as a teacher under the Teachers Pension Scheme.
  • Mr D Chambers & 8 Others v QCR Motors Ltd (In Voluntary Liquidation), ADAC Paintbox Ltd (2010) UKEAT/0545/09/MW – TUPE matter: time limit for presentation of claim where date of transfer had been disputed.

Articles and Publications:

Sophie regularly writes case reports and articles for websites and journals. She appeared on the ‘You and Yours’ programme on Radio 4, in November 2016 commenting upon discrimination in the provision of goods and services. She has also assisted in the drafting of response documents to government consultations on equality law, and
took the lead on the DLA’s written evidence for the 2012 Select Committee on Women in the Workplace.

Voluntary Activities:

Sophie won the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award from Birmingham Law Society in 2019.

She is Vice Chair of the Midland Circuit Women’s Forum and is on the retention panel of the Bar’s Equality and Diversity Committee, dealing with the issues surrounding the retention of women in the profession and harassment. She recently drafted the Bar Council’s harassment training, and works on initiatives to address the underreporting of harassment in the profession.

Sophie was co-founder and is now a patron of Amicus, the legal human rights charity, and was appointed in 2016 as a Trustee for the Muslim Women’s Network UK.  She has set up and runs a separate charity that deals with issues of community cohesion.

Sophie was successfully nominated as one of the Law Society’s “Pro Bono Heroes” for 2009.

Qualifications and Appointments:

  • LLB Hons (1989)
  • ACIS (2002)
  • Accredited Commercial Mediator: CEDR (2000), ADR Group (2009)
  • Accredited Workplace Mediator, Globis (2011)
  • Patron of ‘Amicus’ Charity since 2012


  • Discrimination Law Association
  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • Employment Law Bar Association
  • Associate of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries

My Expertise