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UK’s leading employment barrister ‘Michael Ford QC’ appointed to Law School Chair

Michael Ford QC and his family

Press release issued: 27 March 2015

Michael Ford QC, one of the leading employment law barristers in the country and a legal champion for workers’ rights, has been appointed to a Chair at the University of Bristol Law School.

A Bristol alumnus (LLB 1986 and BSc 2010), Michael’s main areas of practice include equal pay, industrial action, working time and trade union law as well as judicial review, human rights, data protection, health and safety, and public inquiries. 

Specialising in appeal court cases, mainly acting for claimants and unions, Michael has been involved in many high-profile employment cases including European Court of Justice judgments which improved the holiday rights of every worker in Europe, recent judicial reviews challenging the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees, and the first appeal court decision on caste discrimination. He has appeared five times in the European Court of Justice, as well as in the European Court of Human Rights, the House of Lords, the Supreme Court and Public Inquiries. He is a fee-paid Employment Judge, sitting at Bristol employment tribunal.

Michael’s never quite moved away from academia and has in the past lectured at the Universities of Manchester and London, at Birkbeck and the LSE.

Commenting on his return to academia, Michael said: “I’m delighted to be joining Bristol, one of the very top law schools. I’ve always had it at the back of my mind to return, and after more than 20 years in practice and writing on labour law, I hope I can make a significant contribution to scholarship, teaching and the School’s engagement with legal practice and the wider community. I’m privileged to be joining a world-class group of scholars as colleagues.

“With employment rights increasingly taking a poor second place to economic interests, we’re now at a critical time in the subject. Access to justice is becoming a major problem: there are many legal rights in theory but in practice fewer and fewer people have the money, knowledge or support to enforce them. Other means of ensuring fairness at work, such as collective rights, are under siege. I think there’s a big role for research work in this area, especially working with NGOs in the field. I’m really looking forward to working with leading academics in the Law School and in the wider university. “

In terms of what he hopes to achieve, Michael added: “As well as my research interests, I hope to play an important role in student engagement and contribute to some of the  interesting initiatives at Bristol aimed at introducing students to law in practice, not just in books. Finally, I think Bristol is by far the best city in the UK. I moved here with my partner from London in 2001, our boys were both born at St Michaels Hospital, and we’ll never leave.”

Professor Joanne Conaghan, Head of the University of Bristol Law School, said: “We are thrilled that Michael will be joining the Law School; his diverse experience of legal practice in the field of labour law will be of huge benefit to our students and help increase Bristol’s profile as an academic centre of expertise in this area.”

Michael will commence his appointment on 01 August 2015.

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