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Joanna Blackburn


Personal Profile

Joanna is a Partner in the Employment Department where she handles all areas of contentious and non-contentious employment law. This includes executive terminations, discrimination, wrongful and unfair dismissal, TUPE, large scale reorganisations and contract issues. She regularly advises LLPs on partnership matters and is well versed in the issues that affect their members. Further afield Joanna’s expertise also covers the employment aspects of mergers, acquisitions and flotations.

Joanna’s clients are both employers and employees and are drawn from all aspects of business, including investment banks, private equity, financial institutions, fashion and luxury goods houses, telecoms, record and television companies, plc directors and bankers.

Her career, spanning more than 20 years, includes significant experience in the Employment Tribunal and High Court, and has seen her make new law in a landmark case in the Supreme Court.

Joanna is the subject of glowing reviews in both Chambers and Partners, where she is described as having "a strong work ethic and sense of commercial reality”, and in Legal 500 where she is said to “unfailingly provide advice of the highest calibre”. She is listed as a leader in her field by Chambers and Legal 500 and is ranked in Chambers Global, as well as being recognised in SuperLawyers 2013 - 2015.

Key Experience

  • Joanna advised Krista Bates van Winkelhof on her claims of whistleblowing, sex/pregnancy discrimination and victimisation following her removal from the partnership at Clyde & Co. This case culminated in a groundbreaking victory in the Supreme Court in May 2014 and made new law: it is the first time the territorial scope of the Equality Act 2010 has been tested in this way; it is the first time the question of whether a partner or a member of an LLP is a 'worker' for the purposes of the whistleblowing protection; and the court has confirmed the principle that you cannot contract out of statutory rights and the first time an arbitration clause in an LLP agreement has been tested in this way.
  • Joanna represents a global interdealer broker, including acting for it in major litigation. One of those cases established (in the Employment Appeal Tribunal) that an employee cannot bring proceedings in the Employment Tribunal in respect of matters arising in another jurisdiction, even if that employment was contiguous with employment in the UK.
  • Joanna has wide experience in the fashion, retail and luxury markets. She is the lead partner providing employment advice to one of the major global luxury goods and fashion groups. This long-standing relationship covers every aspect of the employment spectrum, from strategic advice, to day-to-day queries, to litigation.
  • Joanna has extensive experience in advising LLPs on partnership and employment issues, and is well versed in dealing with the particular remuneration structures adopted by private equity and venture capital firms, including carried interest schemes. She counts leading private equity firms amongst her clients.
  • For more than 10 years, Joanna has advised the world's largest music company on its high level, strategic and complex employment matters. She also acts for a number of other significant media players, including television companies.
  • In addition to her roster of corporate clients, Joanna acts for senior employees in finance and industry, from plc directors to partners in hedge funds. The experience that she has in acting for her corporate clients enables her to have a clear and insightful understanding of the best solutions for individuals, whether in negotiating contracts or team moves, or dealing with termination of employment.

Career History

Partner, Mishcon de Reya LLP
Solicitor, Mishcon de Reya
Qualified, Booth & Co (now Addleshaw Goddard)
University of Nottingham: BA English

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