Spencer Keen

Year of call 1998

CClerk

Paul Adams
020 7269 0305 Email Paul

Spencer is an advocate with a broad practice.  His main specialisms are employment, commercial law and European law. He appears regularly in the High Court, Employment Tribunal and appellate courts and tribunals.

Quotes from the Legal 500:

"He is an excellent advocate and a formidable opponent."

"His forensic skills are second to none, and his delivery is incisive and polished."

"His knowledge of disability discrimination is second to none."

  • Bamieh v European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo [2017] EAT.  Whether an international organisation has personality for the purposes of domestic law and the effect of Article 10 ECHR on the territorial jurisdiction of an English Employment Tribunal.
  • Smith v London Borough of Bromley [2017].  Lengthy tribunal hearing considering whether the Council had allowed the claimant sufficient time off for trade union duties under s.168 TULRCA or had afforded her a detriment under s.146 TULRCA.
  • Unison v Lord Chancellor [2017] Supreme Court. The judicial review concerning Employment Tribunal fees. Instructed by the intervener, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, led by Michael Ford QC.
  • Hayden Leigh v Channel Four [2017] EWHC. Interim injunction to prevent broadcast of television programme.
  • Zavahir v Shankleman & Ors [2016] EWHC.  Derivative claim alleging an unlawful distribution contrary to s.830 of the Companies Act 2006 and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Wicksteed Leisure v Kompan [2016] EWHC.  Injunction to restrain an alleged theft of confidential information.
  • Decorus v Penfold & Ors [2016] EWHC.  Injunction to restrain an alleged theft of confidential information and breach of covenant.
  • Central Europe Business Development Ltd v Property Transfer Co-ordination Ltd [2016] EWHC.  Proprietary and freezing injunctions.
  • Boothe v Governing Body of Toynbee School [2015] EAT :  Whether the tribunal was correct to continue in the appellant’s absence and whether Article 6 ECHR was engaged.
  • Edwin v Avante Partnership [2015] EAT.  Whether a constructive dismissal required an express acceptance of a repudiatory breach.
  • Re-Use Collections v Sendall [2014] EWHC.  Claim for damages and an injunction rising out of an alleged breach of restrictive covenants and the duty of good faith.
  • Hamilton College London Ltd and another v Ahmad & Anor [2013] EWHC.  Case concerning a disputed transfer of a single issued share in the claimant company.
  • X v. Mid Sussex Citizen's Advice Bureau & Anor  [2012] UKSC 59 (Supreme Court).  The leading case on whether a volunteer was protected from discrimination under domestic and EC law.
  • King v. Health Professions Council [2012] EAT.   Whether an employment tribunal had jurisdiction to hear a claim brought by a person applying for a qualification as a health professional.
  • Shea v. Micros Fidelio [2011] EAT.  This case deals with how far a tribunal can intervene to assist a litigant in person.
  • Lisboa v. Realpubs [2011] EAT.  Whether the new owners of a famous gay pub had discriminated against a barman on the grounds of sexual orientation when trying to re-brand so that persons of all sexualities were welcome.
  • Gill v Humanware Europe [2010] EWCA.  The correct approach to awarding wasted costs against an advocate.
  • Power v. Greater Manchester Police [2010] ET and EAT. Whether a belief that one could communicate with persons after death was a belief protected by the discrimination legislation.
  • Gill v Humanware Europe [2009] EAT.  Spencer appeared for the successful appellant who was alleged that a tribunal judge was biased.

Spencer is recognised by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500 as a leading discrimination barrister who has expertise in disability discrimination.  Both directories list his expertise in disability discrimination as “second to none”.

He has appeared in several leading discrimination disputes and is sought after for his ability to deal with complex cases and high profile clients.  He has advised a large group of judges on their pension rights, city law firms in respect of internal partnership and disciplinary matters, a part-time judge in an unfair dismissal claim and several chief executives in their personal capacities as well as respondent companies of all sizes.

Because of his expertise Spencer’s advice is often sought in areas outside employment such as discrimination in the provision of services.

In 2009 Oxford University Press published Spencer’s book, Disability Discrimination in Employment and he continues to contribute articles to the New Law Journal.

You can find out more about Spencer’s employment cases by clicking here.


Spencer has particular expertise representing clients in areas affected by EU law and has dealt with EU law issues at all levels of the Court hierarchy including the Supreme Court.  He has significant experience in international and domestic territorial jurisdiction disputes (for example he has represented a number of EU international missions and other clients based outside the jurisdiction).

He also has considerable experience in litigation over the domestic scope of the Equality Act 2010 (for example whether volunteers are covered by the Framework Directive; the correct interpretation of “qualifications body;” and the boundaries of associative discrimination) and has litigated the meaning of both the domestic and EU definition of worker in cases concerning judges, academics, foster carers, partners and other atypical workers.


As a commercial barrister Spencer appears regularly in general contract and commercial disputes in the High Court and County Court.   For example he has dealt with disputes:

  • concerning the supply of organic foodstuffs;
  • between shareholders;
  • over the liability of an information society service;
  • about the delivery of satellite TV services;
  • over search engine optimisation (SEO) services.

Spencer is regularly instructed in interim and final injunction cases and has advised and represented clients at very short notice.  Much of his injunction work concerns employee competition cases in which he is instructed to enforce or dispute various types of terms in employment contracts such as:

  • the implied duty of fidelity;
  • non-competition covenants;
  • non-solicitation covenants;
  • non-dealing covenants;
  • non-poaching covenants;
  • indirect restraints, such as financial incentives not to compete.
     

He is also instructed in other types of injunctions.  He has acted for a member of parliament seeking an injunction under the Representation of the People Act before a general election, and for a client seeking to prevent a television company broadcasting a programme in which he appeared.  He has also helped clients seek protection from internet abuse under the Protection from Harassment Act and for clients defending freeing injunctions.

  • The Queen on the Application of UNISON v. The Lord Chancellor and EHRC (Intervener)

    The High Court (Moses LJ, Irwin J) today delivered judgment in the important judicial review proceedings brought by UNISON to challenge the fees regime introduced in the employment tribunal and...

  • Hamilton College London Ltd and another v. Ahmad and another

    Company Shares. In the course of proceedings between the parties, a preliminary issue arose for consideration namely, whether an alleged transfer a single issue share in the first claimant company...

  • X v. Mid Sussex

    The activities of a volunteer advice-worker did not constitute an "occupation" for the purposes of Directive 2000/78 art.3(1)(a). Such a volunteer thus fell outside the scope of the disability discrimination...

  • Lisboa v. Real Pubs Ltd (1) Pring (2) Heap (3)

    1. In September 2008 R1 acquired a public house then called the Coleherne. It had enjoyed a national and international reputation for being London’s first ‘gay pub’. However, at the...

  • Power v. Greater Manchester Police

    Employment Discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the employee's appeal against the tribunal's decision at a pre-hearing review that the employee's beliefs that there was life after death and the...

  • See all cases

     

pAwards

2019 C&P individual 2019 Legal 500 individual C&P 2018 Leading Barrister Legal 500 2017 Leading Individual 2017 C&P Leading individual 2016 L500 Leading Individual C&P 2016 Ranked Barrister

Spencer is an advocate with a broad practice.  His main specialisms are employment, commercial law and European law. He appears regularly in the High Court, Employment Tribunal and appellate courts and tribunals.

Quotes from the Legal 500:

"He is an excellent advocate and a formidable opponent."

"His forensic skills are second to none, and his delivery is incisive and polished."

"His knowledge of disability discrimination is second to none."

  • Bamieh v European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo [2017] EAT.  Whether an international organisation has personality for the purposes of domestic law and the effect of Article 10 ECHR on the territorial jurisdiction of an English Employment Tribunal.
  • Smith v London Borough of Bromley [2017].  Lengthy tribunal hearing considering whether the Council had allowed the claimant sufficient time off for trade union duties under s.168 TULRCA or had afforded her a detriment under s.146 TULRCA.
  • Unison v Lord Chancellor [2017] Supreme Court. The judicial review concerning Employment Tribunal fees. Instructed by the intervener, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, led by Michael Ford QC.
  • Hayden Leigh v Channel Four [2017] EWHC. Interim injunction to prevent broadcast of television programme.
  • Zavahir v Shankleman & Ors [2016] EWHC.  Derivative claim alleging an unlawful distribution contrary to s.830 of the Companies Act 2006 and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Wicksteed Leisure v Kompan [2016] EWHC.  Injunction to restrain an alleged theft of confidential information.
  • Decorus v Penfold & Ors [2016] EWHC.  Injunction to restrain an alleged theft of confidential information and breach of covenant.
  • Central Europe Business Development Ltd v Property Transfer Co-ordination Ltd [2016] EWHC.  Proprietary and freezing injunctions.
  • Boothe v Governing Body of Toynbee School [2015] EAT :  Whether the tribunal was correct to continue in the appellant’s absence and whether Article 6 ECHR was engaged.
  • Edwin v Avante Partnership [2015] EAT.  Whether a constructive dismissal required an express acceptance of a repudiatory breach.
  • Re-Use Collections v Sendall [2014] EWHC.  Claim for damages and an injunction rising out of an alleged breach of restrictive covenants and the duty of good faith.
  • Hamilton College London Ltd and another v Ahmad & Anor [2013] EWHC.  Case concerning a disputed transfer of a single issued share in the claimant company.
  • X v. Mid Sussex Citizen's Advice Bureau & Anor  [2012] UKSC 59 (Supreme Court).  The leading case on whether a volunteer was protected from discrimination under domestic and EC law.
  • King v. Health Professions Council [2012] EAT.   Whether an employment tribunal had jurisdiction to hear a claim brought by a person applying for a qualification as a health professional.
  • Shea v. Micros Fidelio [2011] EAT.  This case deals with how far a tribunal can intervene to assist a litigant in person.
  • Lisboa v. Realpubs [2011] EAT.  Whether the new owners of a famous gay pub had discriminated against a barman on the grounds of sexual orientation when trying to re-brand so that persons of all sexualities were welcome.
  • Gill v Humanware Europe [2010] EWCA.  The correct approach to awarding wasted costs against an advocate.
  • Power v. Greater Manchester Police [2010] ET and EAT. Whether a belief that one could communicate with persons after death was a belief protected by the discrimination legislation.
  • Gill v Humanware Europe [2009] EAT.  Spencer appeared for the successful appellant who was alleged that a tribunal judge was biased.

Spencer is recognised by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500 as a leading discrimination barrister who has expertise in disability discrimination.  Both directories list his expertise in disability discrimination as “second to none”.

He has appeared in several leading discrimination disputes and is sought after for his ability to deal with complex cases and high profile clients.  He has advised a large group of judges on their pension rights, city law firms in respect of internal partnership and disciplinary matters, a part-time judge in an unfair dismissal claim and several chief executives in their personal capacities as well as respondent companies of all sizes.

Because of his expertise Spencer’s advice is often sought in areas outside employment such as discrimination in the provision of services.

In 2009 Oxford University Press published Spencer’s book, Disability Discrimination in Employment and he continues to contribute articles to the New Law Journal.

You can find out more about Spencer’s employment cases by clicking here.


Spencer has particular expertise representing clients in areas affected by EU law and has dealt with EU law issues at all levels of the Court hierarchy including the Supreme Court.  He has significant experience in international and domestic territorial jurisdiction disputes (for example he has represented a number of EU international missions and other clients based outside the jurisdiction).

He also has considerable experience in litigation over the domestic scope of the Equality Act 2010 (for example whether volunteers are covered by the Framework Directive; the correct interpretation of “qualifications body;” and the boundaries of associative discrimination) and has litigated the meaning of both the domestic and EU definition of worker in cases concerning judges, academics, foster carers, partners and other atypical workers.


As a commercial barrister Spencer appears regularly in general contract and commercial disputes in the High Court and County Court.   For example he has dealt with disputes:

  • concerning the supply of organic foodstuffs;
  • between shareholders;
  • over the liability of an information society service;
  • about the delivery of satellite TV services;
  • over search engine optimisation (SEO) services.

Spencer is regularly instructed in interim and final injunction cases and has advised and represented clients at very short notice.  Much of his injunction work concerns employee competition cases in which he is instructed to enforce or dispute various types of terms in employment contracts such as:

  • the implied duty of fidelity;
  • non-competition covenants;
  • non-solicitation covenants;
  • non-dealing covenants;
  • non-poaching covenants;
  • indirect restraints, such as financial incentives not to compete.
     

He is also instructed in other types of injunctions.  He has acted for a member of parliament seeking an injunction under the Representation of the People Act before a general election, and for a client seeking to prevent a television company broadcasting a programme in which he appeared.  He has also helped clients seek protection from internet abuse under the Protection from Harassment Act and for clients defending freeing injunctions.

  • The Queen on the Application of UNISON v. The Lord Chancellor and EHRC (Intervener)

    The High Court (Moses LJ, Irwin J) today delivered judgment in the important judicial review proceedings brought by UNISON to challenge the fees regime introduced in the employment tribunal and...

  • Hamilton College London Ltd and another v. Ahmad and another

    Company Shares. In the course of proceedings between the parties, a preliminary issue arose for consideration namely, whether an alleged transfer a single issue share in the first claimant company...

  • X v. Mid Sussex

    The activities of a volunteer advice-worker did not constitute an "occupation" for the purposes of Directive 2000/78 art.3(1)(a). Such a volunteer thus fell outside the scope of the disability discrimination...

  • Lisboa v. Real Pubs Ltd (1) Pring (2) Heap (3)

    1. In September 2008 R1 acquired a public house then called the Coleherne. It had enjoyed a national and international reputation for being London’s first ‘gay pub’. However, at the...

  • Power v. Greater Manchester Police

    Employment Discrimination. The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed the employee's appeal against the tribunal's decision at a pre-hearing review that the employee's beliefs that there was life after death and the...

  • See all cases

     

pAwards

2019 C&P individual 2019 Legal 500 individual C&P 2018 Leading Barrister Legal 500 2017 Leading Individual 2017 C&P Leading individual 2016 L500 Leading Individual C&P 2016 Ranked Barrister
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