+44 (0)20 7797 8600


Silk: 2014 | Call: 1984
Michael Duggan QC


Michael is an employment and commercial Silk who specialises in all areas of employment law, at an individual and collective level, with particular experience of restrictive covenants, large scale wrongful dismissals, financial services, unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, discrimination and harassment and industrial action injunctions. In the commercial sphere he has particular expertise in worldwide freezing injunctions and search orders as well as petitions in the company court and proceedings in the commercial court. Recognised consistently by the legal directories, clients favour Michael for his first rate advocacy as well as being an "excellent adviser who will readily go to town on the right case”Michael "impresses clients with his excellent preparation and common sense approach”.

Before taking Silk he was singled out as a "leading junior with excellent writing skills” who is"well known for his writings on unfair dismissal issues” and who "combines his commercial and employment based practice with construction law”.

Recent commendations have included:

  • "Has huge knowledge and gives practical advice"Chambers & Partners 2013
  • "Always willing to go the extra distance and make himself available... He impresses sources with his practical advice and guidance, particularly on wrongful and unfair dismissal cases, and large-scale collective redundancy cases"Chambers & Partners 2012
  • "Thorough, reliable and down-to-earth”: Chambers & Partners 2011

The full breadth of Michael’s practice can only be taken in by reading his full curriculum vitae. Since taking Silk in April 2014, the Directories have commented: 

  • "Stands out for his expertise in complex High Court litigation, including cases relating to restrictive covenants and team moves. He is an expert on all areas of employment law and is particularly strong on wrongful dismissal and discrimination claims."
  • "Good for appellant and high-level work." "He is very client-friendly. He gives clear opinions in the cases he is working on and provides tremendous support."

    Individual Employment Law & Sports Law

Michael practices in all areas of individual employment law, including unfair dismissal, discrimination and wrongful dismissal acting for employer and employees. He has acted in a number of high profile discrimination claims. He has a particular specialism in restrictive covenant cases and has appeared in many reported cases.

  • 2016/7 - Multi-million pounds’ wrongful dismissal claim involving breach of bonus terms and relocation benefits.
  • 2016/7 - Disability discrimination claim for £7.5 million- acting for Respondent.
  • 2017 - FCA Insider dealing disciplinary investigation acting for individual.
  • Kular v Lenlyn - EAT case on Polkey reductions. Acted for successful Claimant – went on to obtain maximum award.
  • Acted for successful parties in important covenant cases of Pickwell and Nicholls v Pro Cam (CP) Ltd  [2016] IRLR 761 and Bartholomews Agri Food v Thornton [2016] IRLR 432.
  • Advised and acted in cases involving disability discrimination and age discrimination including Shiret v Credit Suisse in which Michael acted for the successful Claimant in a multi-million pound age discrimination claim.
  • Instructed in hundreds of unfair dismissal claims over the years.
  • Acted in holiday payment cases, in which he has acted for Respondents facing over 400 claims.
  • Counsel in stress cases, in the High Court, County Court and Tribunal.
  • Acted for a number of local authorities on the large scale equal pay claims and has written the leading text in this area.
  • Acted in and advised on many transfer of undertakings cases, including Allenby v Liverpool Airport and OTG Ltd v Barke and othersHead Entertainments Ltd v Walker and others [2011] IRLR 272.
  • Acts in high value wrongful dismissal cases and bonus claims. In a recent claim he secured a £700,000 settlement for his client.
  • High profile discrimination claims of Driskel v Peninsula Business Services Ltd (EAT) [2000] IRLR 151 and DA’Bell v NSPCC [2010] IRLR 19.

    Equality, Diversity & Disciplinary Cases

A substantial part of Michael’s practice in the last few years has involved discrimination claims and he has acted in sex, race, age, disability and sexual orientation claims for both Claimants and Respondents. Recent cases include:

  • Acting for Respondent in £7.5 million disability discrimination claim. Successfully had many allegations struck out and claim listed for 13 days in September 2017.
  • Acted for Gillingham Football Club in the first case brought by a black footballer.
  • Successfully defended a harassment claim against an international company and its Japanese MD.
  • Acts in dozens of high value disability claims and recently secured a settlement of £½ million for a Claimant.
  • Appeared before SENDIST acting for a school.
  • Acts in disciplinary cases involving regulators and has a particular expertise with FCA (formerly FSA) matters. Recently acted in FCA investigation of insider dealing.
  • Appears before professional bodies and recently acted for a director of nursing before the NMC in which he persuaded the panel to impose a restricted practice order rather than a suspension, where there were serious allegations against a hospital.
  • Member of the Bar Council Committee on Equality, Diversity and Social Mobility as an elected member of the Bar Council.

    Collective Employment Law, Injunctions (commercial & employment)

Ever since acting for the construction companies on the Channel Tunnel project in the eighties in obtaining injunctions to restrain unlawful industrial action, Michael has acted in many injunction cases involving unlawful strikes or other industrial action as well as advising trade unions in relation to the ballot process, most recently the BAJ in a dispute about mass redundancies.

  • As well as his injunctive work in relation to restrictive covenants and labour law, Michael has acted in cases involving freezing orders and search orders arising out of large scale commercial disputes, in the QBD, Chancery Division and in the Commercial Court.
  • Admitted to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2008 in order to represent a company in the NICA regarding a strike at Belfast airport, in which the issue was whether shop stewards had been dismissed for ‘political activities’.
  • Appeared before the CAC and in 2010 acted for a company concerning the scope of the bargaining unit and represented the BAJ in its 2009-2010 pay claim which went to arbitration before an ACAS nominated panel, successfully obtaining a ‘binding in honour’ pay rise.
  • Acted for a number of companies in the Tribunals, defending claims of alleged trade union discrimination in relation to the so called ‘blacklist’ which was kept by the Consulting Association.
  • Acted in cases concerning collective consultation under section 188 of TULR(C)A 1992.
  • Acted for a Respondent in which a whole plant had been closed down with the issue being whether there had been over 99 redundancies in 90 days and whether there had been meaningful consultation.
  • Counsel for the successful Appellant in Shanahan Engineering v Unite the Union [UKEAT/0411/09], saving his client hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  • Acted for Parcelforce in relation to closure of a distribution centre.
  • In February 2015, acted for 24 Claimants in relation to the closure of a depot and secured a settlement of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    Restrictive Covenants & Breach of Contract

Restraint of trade and restrictive covenants are a central area of Michael’s practice. He appears regularly in applications for interim relief both on a without notice and contested basis. He is also an expert in drafting and advising in this field. He has particular expertise in relation to recruitment agency injunctions, financial institutions and injunctions involving computer imaging or complex e-disclosure issues.

  • Acted for successful parties in important covenant cases of Pickwell and Nicholls v Pro Cam (CP) Ltd  [2016] IRLR 761 and Bartholomews Agri Food v Thornton [2016] IRLR 432.
  • Recently (2017) acted for Claimant in respect of freezing in team move case.
  • Michael acted for the successful party in Sunrise Brokers LLP v Rodgers [2015] IRLR 57, a case on garden leave which has been widely commented upon.
  • Other cases include: Ashcourt Rowan Financial Planning Ltd v Hall [2013] IRLR 637; EE & Brian Smith v Hodson & Ors [2007] EWCA Civ 1210; Intercall Conferencing Services Ltd v Steer [2007] EWHC 519 (QB); Brake Brother v Ungless [2004] EWHC 2799; Turner v Commonwealth & British Minerals Ltd(CA) [2000] IRLR 114; Wincanton Ltd v Cranny & anr [2000] IRLR 716; Taylor Stuart & Co v Timothy Croft (ChDiv) 07.05.97.
  • Michael acted for the successful Claimant in Kynixa Ltd v Hynes & Ors [2008] EWHC 1495 (QB) (30 June 2008) in which the three Defendants were found to be liable, after a nineteen day trial, for breach of fiduciary duty and duties of fidelity as well as various covenants. The Claimant obtained costs approaching £1 million after being awarded £350,000 on a successful ‘on account’ application. The case has been referred to at length in the leading textbooks as containing important points on the extent of liability for breach of the duty of fidelity.
  • Michael also regularly advises on the scope and enforceability of covenants as well as drafting appropriate covenants for clients. He spoke on restrictive covenants at the ELA 2013 Annual Conference under the title ‘The Perfect Restrictive Covenant; does it exist?’ and has been in regular demand to speak on numerous occasions on restrictive covenants in the ELA regions, most recently speaking in February 2015 in Leeds.

    Commercial, Commercial Agency & Construction Law

Michael has been instructed in many commercial cases including sale of goods, retention of title clauses and professional negligence, especially relating to architects, surveyors and solicitors’ negligence and has a particular expertise in interim applications involving freezing and search orders. He has acted for a number of financial institutions, including cases in the commercial court involving insurance matters. 

  • Acting in commercial court claim concerned sinking of well in North Sea oilfields where there is a dispute about  the scope of the oilfield and payment.
  • Acted in claims where argument about status of individual as agent, worker, employee.
  • He has acted in commercial disputes as diverse as the negligent piloting of a helicopter to overpayments of insurance payments by a solicitors’ Firm to a dispute about royalties for a Status Quo documentary.
  • Michael has also acted in receivership disputes and for building societies in cases involving professional negligence. He also acts in shareholder disputes, particularly relation to unfair prejudice and minority shareholder petitions and has lectured to ELA on corporate matters that may overlap with employment cases.
  • In the commercial agency field, Michael acts for both Principals and Agents in commercial agency disputes and has substantial experience of Commercial Agency Contract cases under the 1993 Regulations.
  • Involved in the large scale multi million pounds Enron dispute concerning electricity and gas utilities in which he achieved a substantial settlement for his clients by obtaining a concession that they were commercial agents.
  • Successfully acted in the first case to decide that commercial agents owe a duty of trust and confidence akin to an employment relationship to their Principal: see Gledhill v Bentley Designs(UK) Limited [2010] EWHC B8 (Mercantile).
  • Michael has been instructed in Technology and Construction Court cases since he commenced practice, including multi-million pound disputes relating to construction defects, extensions of time and disputes under JCT and ICE contracts, Architect and surveyor disputes as well as appearing in arbitrations and, allied to the construction side, has dealt with many health and safety cases (both Civil relating to Prohibition Notices and Criminal prosecutions because of defective plant). He was recently instructed in a 7 million pound case involving the defective manufacture and commissioning of plant.

    Mediations, Writing & Lectures

Michael is an accredited Mediator with the ADR Group and can mediate on a wide range of matters. He has mediated cases as diverse as the parties falling out over the sale of a used car to a dispute between a bursar and the Fellows of the College. He has been a regular mediator in employment disputes involving large sums of money. He is also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration and appears for Claimants and Respondents in arbitrations.

In 2014 Michael set up Duggan Press Limited so that he could have control over future editions of his well-known texts, being:

  • 'Duggan on Contracts of Employment: Law Practice and Precedents' (2 volumes)
  • 'Wrongful Dismissal and breach of contract: Law, Practice and Precedents'
  • 'Business Reorganisations and Employment Law: Reorganisations, Redundancies and Transfers, Law, Practice and Precedents'
  • 'Unfair Dismissal: Law Practice and Precedents'

The Duggan Press website is at www.dugganpress.com and will contain regular updates on topical employment matters.

He has written many other books on employment law. These include:

  • 'Family Friendly Policies: A Handbook for Employers and Employees' (pp 423)
  • 'Equal Pay' (Jordans 2009)
  • Equality Act 2010 (The Law Society)
  • The Law of Industrial Action and Trade Union Recognition (2nd Edition) with Bowers QC and Reade QC. (new edition proposed 2017)