Michael Ford QC: "The UK and Industrial Action" Distinguished Alumni Guest Lecture Series
Michael Ford QC (LLB 1986)
Wills Memorial Building
Lecture Subject: Employment Law - The UK and Industrial Action
As part of the Distinguished Alumni Guest Lecture Series, Michael Ford QC (LLB 1986) barrister Old Square Chambers and Employment Tribunal Judge and Richard Arthur of Thompsons will be giving a lecture entitled: "The UK and Industrial Action"
Michael Ford QC is one of the leading employment law barristers in the country. He is a practitioner, an academic thinker, writer and an employment judge. His advocacy has led to the establishment of ground-breaking principles of employment law.
Michael studied law at Bristol between 1983 to 1986. After Gravesend Grammar School he turned down a place at Oxford (two weeks before term started) to spend several years living in Belgium racing as an international cyclist, funding this by doing grim manual work in a cycle frame workshop. He was a member of the GB road squad and competed all over Europe; his results included 5th in the Ronde de L’Oise, 1st Jock Wadley Memorial, 1st Tour of Surrey, 4th Tour of the Peak and 6th on stage of the Driesdaagse van Vlaanderen. Sadly a pro cyclist career did not materialise so he had to fall back on using his brain, not his legs and heart, for his trade.
After an ordinary start in the first year exams Michael gave it everything, turning himself inside out as a natural climber to achieve a First in Law. His natural advocacy skills also won him the University debating competition, the Winston Cup. He then ‘worked’ for two years with a top City law firm, spending six months doing almost nothing their Paris office except chatting in French. After realising law was really all about politics and the City wasn’t for him, he did a degree in Socio-Legal Studies at Sheffield and then spent two years teaching law in the rain at Manchester University, largely missing the height of the rave scene.
In 1992 he switched careers again to the Bar. He started at Doughty Street Chambers (where other distinguished alumni speakers are members), at the time one of the few chambers with expertise in human rights claims. In 2001 he moved to Old Square Chambers, largely to work in their annex in Bristol.
He specialises in labour law, mostly acting for trade unions and claimants, above all in appeal cases or claims which affect the whole workforce in areas such as equal pay, industrial action, working time, trade union law, judicial review, and human rights. He has often appeared in the Court of Justice (including Case C-539/12, Lock v British Gas; Case C-155/10, Williams v British Airways; Case C-520-06 Stringer v Revenue and Customs Commissioners; Case C-164/00, Beckmann v Dynamco Whicheloe), as well as in the Strasbourg Court (including RMT v United Kingdom on the right to strike and ASLEF v United Kingdom on the right of unions to expel BNP members) and in the House of Lords, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. He was Employment Junior of the Year in 2012 and became a Silk in 2013.
Michael’s recent cases include the much-publicised EAT test case on the hundreds of thousands of holiday pay disputes under Working Time Regulations (Wood v Hertel); acting for Equalities and Human Rights Commission in the judicial review challenging fees in employment tribunal (R(UNISON) v Lord Chancellor) and in the first appellate case on caste discrimination (Tirkey v Chandhok); applications to the ILO challenging the privatisation of the probation service and to the Court of Human Rights on the abolition of Agricultural Wages Board; and acting for unions in several strike injunctions.
Michael thinks Bristol is by far the best city in Britain to live in. He now spends his leisure time cycling (still over 200 km a week), trying to learn Spanish and watching his boys play football in the local U-7s and U-9s leagues.