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Seamus Sweeney

Called 1989

Seamus was born and brought up in Derry City, Northern Ireland but is an adopted 'Geordie' having lived in the North East for over 20 years. He practices exclusively in employment law.

Seamus started practice in 1990 in London before moving to Newcastle in 1996, where he joined Eversheds Solicitors as specialist in-house counsel in their employment department. Whilst in London he gained a wide range of experience taking in criminal law, general civil law and employment law. However, employment law has been his sole area of practice since 1996. 

He returned to practise at the Bar in 1999.

Seamus is also an Accredited Mediator through the London School of Mediation. He accepts joint instructions to act as mediator in order to try and facilitate a settlement between parties involved in but not limited to workplace disputes.

Seamus won "Junior Employment Barrister of the Year" at the 2013 Bar Awards by Chambers & Partners. He is consistently ranked as the leading employment law barrister in the North East by Chambers & Partners.

"He is the top name in the North East. He's exceptional and everyone speaks very highly of him." "Seamus is a fantastic advocate. He gets to grips with the technical stuff and doesn't take any hostages."

Chambers & Partners 2018
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Areas Of Expertise

Areas of Expertise
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Seamus has extensive experience of employment law. He has significant experience of high value equal pay litigation having advised and acted for countless local authorities and NHS Trusts over the years. He also acts for trade unions, large and small private sector employers and employees.

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Chambers & Partners 2019 (Star Individual)

"A very good advocate who is liked by lawyers and clients for his knowledge and relaxed style." "He benefits from his years of experience. He is very personable and very thorough."

Legal 500 2018/2019 - "Clients like his polished style and reassuring manner."

Chambers & Partners 2018 (Star Individual)

A pre-eminent advocate who is widely respected in the North Eastern employment circuit. He regularly appears on behalf of a range of clients, from large corporates and local authorities through to individual claimants. He is noted for his experience across the breadth of the practice area, and for his involvement handling collective employment and restructuring issues and equal pay claims.

Strengths: "He is the top name in the North East. He's exceptional and everyone speaks very highly of him." "Seamus is a fantastic advocate. He gets to grips with the technical stuff and doesn't take any hostages."

Legal 500 2017- "He has a sure touch when engaging with lay clients."

Chambers & Partners 2017 (Star Individual)

Strengths: "Incredibly personable, very good with clients and a very incisive legal brain. He's head and shoulders above everyone else. "He's very good and commands the respect of the tribunal. He's easy-going in his approach and that belies the fact that he's a very able practitioner who's rightly very highly regarded."

Legal 500 2016- "Excellent, the most respected employment barrister in thre North East."

Chambers & Partners 2016 (Star Individual)

The only Star Individual on the North Eastern Circuit for Employment. Highly experienced in the field of employment law, he typically acts for employers in complex or large-scale issues such as equal pay claims.

Strengths: "He's very good on his feet and skilled technically in writing and he has a good bedside manner with lay-clients." "He always has a good grasp of the issues and can see the wood for the trees."

 Chambers & Partners 2015 (Star Individual)

A leading light in employment law on the North Eastern Circuit. He focuses on handling respondent work for local government and NHS trusts, and is an authority on matters concerning equal pay litigation. He also handles claimant work. 

Expertise: "He is an exceptional barrister. He is not stuffy, clients love him and he is willing to roll up his sleeves. Behind that friendly behaviour lies a killer cross-examiner, which is exactly what you want." "He is always excellent and is quite well known as being one of the best in the region. If I have a high-value claim locally, he is my first port of call." 

Recent work: Acted for Lord Alan Sugar's company, Amshold, on an unfair constructive dismissal and whistle-blowing claim brought by winner of 'The Apprentice', Stella English. The claims were dismissed.

 Who's Who Legal 2015 -  Seamus Sweeney is a “veteran” in the equal pay area. He is heavily involved in advising and representing local authorities throughout the country, and also acts for trade unions, private sector organisations and employees.

Legal 500 2015

'One of the few genuine alternatives to a QC in the north of England.'

Legal 500 2014 

"Extremely knowledgeable in the really challenging areas of employment law"

Chambers & Partners 2014 (Star Individual)

Focuses his practice entirely on employment law. He is widely recognised for his work with public sector clients, and has particular expertise in advising local authorities on equal pay claims.

Expertise: "He is a real expert in equal pay matters. He's very responsive and approachable, non-stuffy and very client-friendly. A pleasure to work with."

The Legal 500 2013

Seamus represented Lord Sugar in a high-profile case of alleged constructive dismissal.

Chambers & Partners 2013 (Star Individual)

He has sealed his reputation as a "star" on the North Eastern Circuit. This "outstanding all-round junior" is best known for his long-standing representation of local authorities, and has recently brought his "robust approach to litigation" to bear on a number of high-profile equal pay cases.

Chambers & Partners 2012 (Star Individual)

"Stellar performer" Seamus Sweeney of Parklane Plowden is "a splendid combination of charm, intellect and lightness of touch." He is instructed by Sunderland City Council in the long-running Agenda for Change litigation. He is frequently instructed in high-value equal pay claims and TUPE matters, and also advises on changes to terms and conditions.

The Legal 500 2011

Seamus Sweeney has 'superior knowledge of equal pay'

Chambers & Partners 2011 (Star Individual)

He remains "head and shoulders above his competitors," with instructing solicitors saying his opinion is "invaluable when it comes to the most complex and high-value cases." Not only is he a "robust and meticulously prepared advocate," but he is also "exceptionally good at engaging with clients and inspiring confidence."

Chambers & Partners 2010 

Seamus Sweeney is very highly regarded by clients, who say that he is "always our first choice for more complex matters." Other merits appreciated by clients are his "incisive mind, client-friendly manner and quick-witted style in court Recomended Legal 500 2010.

Chambers & Partner 2009

Seamus Sweeney "he is head and shoulders above the rest and would be a silk if in London." Head of the Employment team at Parklane Plowden, he is a "methodical and careful" advocate who carries out "a brilliant job on sensitive employment matters" and is "very easy to work with." The former Eversheds employee gains applause for his "appreciation of the pressures facing solicitors," and remains heavily immersed in high-value collective equal pay claims for local authorities.

The Legal 500 2009

"Highlights the main issues and makes clients very comfortable."

The Legal 500 2008

"The Very Top of the Circuit's Employment Bar"

Chambers & Partners 2008

"Seamus Sweeney scooped widespread praise for his 'sharp intellect' and 'brilliant client-handling skills'. The former Eversheds solicitor is heavily involved in equal pay, an issue that burns brightly in the North East. He is considered a 'highly reasonable opponent who is keen on finding solutions."

Chambers & Partners 2007

He is described as being approachable and "not suffering from barristeritus". He displays "utter professionalism and tenacity" and produces "sensible, commercial and pragmatic advice".

Chambers & Partners 2006 

"Maintained his leading position within the North Eastern circuit, with a respondent focus to his practice, he predominately acts for the region's local authorities, particularly in the area of equal pay matters."

Notable Cases
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Recently Concluded Cases

Successfully represented Lord Sugar & Amshold Group Ltd in the employment tribunal against previous Apprentice TV show winner in a constructive dismissal claim.

Reported Cases

Graysons Restaurants Ltd v Jones & others & Secretary of State [2018] I.C.R. 670 (EAT): Liability of the Secretary of State under Part XII Employment Rights Act 1996, in respect of undetermined equal pay claims against and insolvent employer; up to 8 weeks’ of such arrears to be paid out of the National Insurance Fund; excess over 8 weeks to be the liability of a transferor employer.

North Cumbria NHS Trust v Saiger & Others [2018] I.C.R. 297 (EAT): The Employment Appeal Tribunal set out the correct approach to allegations of serious procedural irregularities in proceedings before employment tribunals and the so-called 'rule in Browne v Dunn'.

Croft Vets Ltd v Butcher [2013] Eq.L.R 1170: Disability discrimination and the extent of reasonable adjustments regarding private medical care

Fox & Others v Bassettlaw District Council [2013] Eq. L.R 219 (EAT): Withdrawal and dismissal of claims, Henderson & Henderson, abuse of process.

Abendshine v Sunderland City Council [2012] I.C.R. 1087 (EAT): Applicability of the former statutory grievance procedures.

Ward Hadaway v Love & Others (UKEAT): Tupe, service provision change between firms of solicitors

UK Coal Mining Ltd v NUM & BACM [2008] I.C.R. 163

GMB v TRW Automotive Systems TUR1/597 [2007] Central Arbitration Committee appropriate bargaining unit

Cumbria County Council v Morgan [2007] IRLR 314 (EAT): Detriment, protected disclosures, vicarious liability

GMB v Brown [2007] ALL ER (D)(EAT): Constructive dismissal, trade union employee resigning over way employer handled grievance

GMB v Clark Doors Ltd TUR1/543 [2006] Central Arbitration Unit Appropriate bargaining unit

McGlennon v Chief Constable of Cumbria [2002] I.C.R. 1156 (EAT): Sex Discrimination, victimisation, nature of office of police constable, agency, tribunal jurisdiction

South Tyneside Council v Toulson [2002] (UKEAT 1333/01): Working time regulations, EU Law, contracts for services, mutuality of obligation.

Hartlepool Borough Council v Dolphin & Others [2009] IRLR 154,EAT – with John Bowers QC: Structured approach

The Following are some of the major equal pay cases in which Seamus has been involved over the past few years with Leading Counsel:

Brennan v Sunderland City Council [2012] I.C.R. 1183 (EAT) (with David Reade QC): Collective agreements; Confidentiality; Contribution; Disclosure; Employment tribunals; Joint and Several liability; Jurisdiction; Local authorities’ powers and duties; Relevance; Right to respect for private and family life; Settlement; Sex discrimination; Trade Unions; Without prejudice communications.

Brennan v Sunderland City Council [2012] I.C.R. 1216 (CA);[2011] I.C.R. 655 (EAT) (with David Reade QC): Bonus payments; Equal pay; Genuine material factors; Indirect discrimination;Justification; Perversity; Sex discrimination

Brennan v Sunderland City Council [2009] I.C.R. 479 (with David Reade QC): Legal Privilege; Litigation privilege; Redaction; Reliance;Waiver
Brownbill v St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust {2012} I.C.R. 68 (CA); [2010] I.C.R. 1383 (EAT) (with John Bowers QC): Equal Pay, identification of terms of contract for purposes of comparison

Hartlepool BC v Llewellyn [2009] I.C.R. 1426 (EAT) (with John Bowers QC): Hartlepool pay claims, contingent ‘male piggy back’ claims, sex discrimination.

Hartlepool v Dolphin [2009] IRLR 168 (with John Bowers QC): Bonus payments, equal pay, genuine material factor defences

South Tyneside Council v Anderson [2007] I.C.R. 1581 (CA) (with John Bowers QC): Equal Pay, genuine material factor defence, school employees, common terms and conditions.

Newcastle City Council v Allan [2005] I.C.R. 1170 (EAT) (with John Bowers QC): Equal pay, compensation for injury to feelings, non-pecuniary loss

Hartley & Others v Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust & Secretary of State for Health – (2009) Employment Tribunal (with John Bowers QC): Equal Pay, challenge to validity of Agenda for Change

Ackinclose v Gateshead Council [2005] IRLR 79 (EAT) (with John Bowers QC): Collective agreements, incorporation of terms to be taken in equal pay claims

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Accredited with the London School of Mediation 2013.

Articles & Publications
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Author, with Andrew Sugarman of Equal Pay section in Jordans Employment Law,

"Lifting the Shadow", NLJ (2003) 153
Equal pay litigation in the North East, Employment Lawyers Association March 2006 vol 13.

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010

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Seamus speaks at local, regional and national conferences and tailor-made client seminars for commercial law firms and other organisations. A sample of his lectures/seminars:

  • November 2017, Yorkshire Local Government Special Interest Group - TUPE; s145B TULR(C)A
  • June 2016, Employment Lawyers Association, Newcastle, Leeds - Equal Pay in the Private Sector
  • January 2016, Parklane Plowden seminar, Leeds - human rights in employment law
  • October 2015, Local Government Seminar - knotty employment law issues
  • February 2015, Glasgow Employment Lawyers Association - Shared parental leave and flexible working
  • October 2014, Parklane Plowden Seminary, Leeds, Newcastle - gross misconduct
  • November 2013, Local Government Association, Newcastle - TUPE and collective redundancies
  • September 2013, Newcastle Employment Lawyers Association - Remedies in the Employment Tribunal
  • April 2012, Joint and Several Liability in the ET - 35 years of getting it wrong?
  • June 2009, Employment Lawyers Association, Manchester: Whistle Blowing.
  • July 2007, Northumbria Education Law Conference: bullying and harassment claims by teachers.
  • June 2007, Employment Lawyers Association, Manchester: justification in discrimination and equal pay.
  • May 2007, National Conference at the Sage, Gateshead in association with North East Regional Employers' Organisation: equal pay update.
  • February 2007, Newcastle Law Society: employment law update.
  • December 2006, Chambers seminar, Carlisle: psychiatric injury and injury to feelings claims in employment tribunals.
  • June 2006, seminar for local authorities in conjunction with Dickinson Dees at Newcastle City Council: pensions for employment and procurement lawyers in local government.
Personal Details

LLB (Hons), Manchester Polytechnic

Professional Associations

Employment Law Bar Association Employment Lawyers Association

Seamus's Latest News
Awards &

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