Contact details

Kate Brearley

T: +44 20 7809 2107 Email Kate | Vcard Office: London


Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

Kate Brearley Partner

Contact details

Kate Brearley

Kate Brearley

T: +44 20 7809 2107 Email Kate | Vcard Office: London

An expert in all areas of employment law, Kate’s clear and commercial advice and track record in delivering objectives are valued by clients. A leading practitioner in the field of restrictive covenants and team moves, Kate’s specialisms also include strategic board level advice, sensitive exits, complex drafting and dispute handling.
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Kate has a wealth of experience advising on all aspects of employment law, contentious and non-contentious. A typical week frequently includes advice on a sensitive grievance, taking steps in litigation relating to breach of restrictive covenants or in the defence of an Employment Tribunal claim, drafting complex contractual provisions, negotiating a board level exit and advising on a corporate reorganisation including an outsourcing.

Drafting restrictive covenants and litigation relating to their enforcement, particularly in team moves, are key aspects of Kate’s practice. With Selwyn Bloch QC of Littleton Chambers, she co-authors the leading text on employee competition (Brearley and Bloch: Employment Covenants and Confidential Information published by Bloomsbury).

Kate’s work has a strong international element. Her clients include international companies, both listed and private, LLPs and charities. She also acts for CEOs and senior employees on contract negotiation, bonus disputes and team moves. Clients come from a variety of sectors including financial services, insurance, leisure, technology and shipping.

Recognised as a leader in her field by Chambers UK and as a leading individual by The Legal 500, Kate has strong analytical skills and is known for giving practical advice and delivering creative solutions.

Kate is a CEDR accredited mediator and a former barrister.

"brilliantly decisive, with a wise balance of assertiveness and flexibility in negotiations."  
Chambers UK 2020

  • Employment
  • Corporate governance
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Banking and financial services regulation
  • Regulatory litigation

Kate’s decisiveness is a key attraction for clients as “she is very prepared to come forward and tell you what she thinks is in your best interest” (Chambers UK 2015). Consistently recognised as one of the elite employment lawyers, Kate’s experience spans the whole spectrum of employment law. Examples of her work include:

High Court injunctions

Securing Injunctions to restrain misuse of confidential information. Orchestrating the investigation, preserving the integrity of electronic evidence and appropriate framing of the relief were key to the successful outcome.

Defence of tribunal claims

Successfully defending clients against claims of unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. Securing the disposal of claims by withdrawal or dismissal or resolution on commercially favourable terms.

Sensitive grievance/disciplinary procedures

Guiding a client through a series of sensitive inter-related grievance and disciplinary procedures involving a number of senior employees and including whistleblowing allegations and allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination.

More: Employment

Corporate governance advice is a key part of Kate’s practice, the adage “prevention is better than cure” being the key driver for clients seeking Kate’s assistance. Examples of work in this area include:

Directors service agreements - UK listed company

Advising the directors in relation to revisions to their service agreements proposed as part of an exercise by the company to bring the agreements in line with UK corporate governance requirements.

Remuneration policy and report - UK listed company

Reviewing the remuneration report of a UK listed company to ensure compliance with UK corporate governance requirements.

Director training – AIM listed company

On behalf of this AIM listed company delivering training to their board members, advised on the duties and obligations of directors under the Companies Act.

More: Corporate governance

Regulatory compliance is of paramount commercial importance to clients and their reputations. Kate partners with clients in managing effective compliance and minimising the damage of any breaches

Bribery investigation – global electronics company

Advising this client on the employment aspects of a multi-jurisdictional investigation into alleged bribery of customers by sales staff including issues of suspension and the conduct of disciplinary proceedings.

Asset manager – approved person status

Assisting this client in addressing with the Financial Conduct Authority issues arising from the misconduct of an employee with approved person status.

Bribery investigation – UK university

Guiding this client through the employment aspects of an investigation into alleged bribery in the course of a public procurement process.

More: Regulatory compliance

Kate has many long-standing clients in the banking sector and advises them on all aspects of employment law from contract drafting to termination and beyond. Some of her work examples include:

Board level exit - Middle Eastern bank

Advising on the terms of an exit of a long-standing chief executive involving the interpretation of complex contractual provisions and handling a wide ranging subject access request.

Disciplinary/grievance - Scandinavian bank

Guiding this bank through a complex process involving sensitive cross disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Transfer of loan portfolio – Norwegian bank

Advising on the employment law and regulatory implications of the transfer of a key loan portfolio.

More: Banking and financial services regulation

Many of Kate’s clients operate in a highly regulated environment and litigation flowing from alleged breaches is now commonplace. Kate’s work alongside our expert contentious regulatory team has included:

Market abuse – senior approved person

Successfully co-defending with the employer’s legal team a claim of alleged market abuse.

Insider trading - international accountancy practice

Advising this accountancy practice on the investigation and exit of an employee engaged in insider trading.

Whistleblowing litigation – asset manager

Defending this client against allegations of breach of regulatory rules by a former employee.

More: Regulatory litigation

  • Art and cultural property
  • Funds and financial services
  • Insurance
  • Hotels and leisure
  • Banks and banking

Art gallery

Advising on all employment issues including day to day advisory advice, the negotiation of exits and steps to deter /stop competition by former employees. Advising the owners on the employment aspects of a potential disposal of the business.

International auction house

Advising this client on various employment issues including the hiring of staff subject to restrictive covenants and the creation of a template service agreement to be used in multiple jurisdictions.

International auction house

Successfully negotiating the early exit and release from restrictive covenants of a key hire for this client.

More: ​Art and cultural property

UK asset manager

Successfully resolving a significant value High Court bonus claim involving the construction of complex contractual provisions regarding the allocation of costs and the proper exercise of the company’s ability of discretion in allocating costs.

AIM listed UK fund manager

Advising on the removal of board members and their replacement by new directors, including the negotiation of settlement (formerly compromise) agreements and the drafting of service agreements and letters of appointment.

Overseas asset manager

Defending this client against claims of sex and age discrimination, securing a favourable settlement for the client including stringent obligations to protect the client’s reputation.

More: Funds and financial services

International insurance broker

Successfully defending claims arising from a team poaching from a competitor. Securing the withdrawal of proceedings for inducing breach of contract and orchestrating a settlement incorporating a split brokerage arrangement.

International insurance broker

Advising on the investigation into and exit of a board member found to have been defrauding the company.

CEO - international insurance group

Negotiating the exit of this CEO both as an employee and as a shareholder. Securing favourable financial arrangements in the context of on-going covenants emanating from a shareholder agreement.

More: Insurance

National hotel chain

Successfully resolving a claim of race discrimination in relation to the provision of facilities and services.

International hotel chain

Guiding this client through a complex investigation into alleged breaches relating to the sale of alcohol and subsequent disciplinary proceedings and the termination of employment contracts.

CEO of national leisure chain

Advising the CEO on the negotiation of his contract terms including a complex bonus arrangement on exit by the private equity investors.

More: Hotels and leisure

International bank

Advising on the interpretation of nationally negotiated union agreements and the strategy and process relating to a redundancy programme.

Middle Eastern bank

Successfully defending a claim of race discrimination relating to the dress code applicable to all staff members.

European bank

In partnership with the bank’s compliance team reviewing their bonus and incentive arrangements for staff to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements in relevant European jurisdictions.

More: Banks and banking

  • China
  • Singapore
  • Europe

Kate has for many years worked closely with colleagues in our Hong Kong office, advising clients with operations in Hong Kong on both litigious and non-litigious issues. Typical examples include:

International shipping company

Successfully defending this client against claims of inducing breach of restrictive covenants in relation to the hire of a key recruit.

International maritime authority

Advising this client on various matters arising from the establishment of their operations in Hong Kong, the relocation of employees and the departure of employees.

International P&I club

Negotiating and concluding complex contractual arrangements for a new board member, including aspects arising from transfer from ex-pat to local terms.

More: China

In recent years, Kate’s practice has increasingly been involved in working closely with our colleagues at Virtus Law to advise clients with operations based in Singapore on both litigious and non-litigious issues. Typical examples include:

International technology group

Negotiating complex incentive arrangements relating to board members responsible for preparing for and concluding the successful sale of parts of this group.

International fine wine merchants

Securing injunctions in to restrain misuse of confidential information misappropriated by former employees.

International technology group

Successfully concluding exit arrangements for a board member of this group.

More: Singapore

Many of Kate’s clients have operations in a number of European jurisdictions with the requirement that consistency of approach and co-ordination of advice is important. Typical examples of work include:

Norwegian bank

Advice on all aspects of the employment relationship from inception to termination and the successful defence of claims

Pan European technology group

Assisting this client on a variety of employment issues including the departure of a team and suspected breaches of anti-bribery legislation.

International banking group

Dealing with the employment aspects of the successful disposal of this group’s interests in Ireland.

More: Europe


Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

Employment: Employers

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