Alison Downie


Alison specialises in the full range of employment and discrimination law and related contract matters. She also advises and acts in work place related regulatory and professional disciplinary matters.  Her experience in complex civil and commercial litigation and cross jurisdiction disputes adds to her skills.

She is recommended as a UK leader in the field in Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and the Legal 500 and was The Times Lawyer of the Week in May 2005.

She advises and acts for both employers and employees on all types of employment and procedural issues, ranging from contract disputes, dismissals, the full range of discrimination, human rights, victimisation, whistleblowing, injunctions, health and safety to restructures, boardroom disputes and governance  issues.  She is known for handling and winning of tough cases and providing creative pragmatic solutions to employment problems.

Her employer clients include public and private limited companies; UK and international charities and NGO’s; trade unions; media organisations and publishers; professional associations; public bodies; local authorities; campaigning organisations; professional partnerships, law firms and barristers chambers. Alison advises and acts for the national Labour Party.

She acts for the widest range of individuals from top level national and international senior professionals and executives, Chief Executives of national bodies and Board Directors to low paid workers on equal pay disputes or facing discrimination.

She acts for international organisations and companies with cross - jurisdictional employment issues, particularly in India and Africa and cross border within Europe.

She has acted in cases in Employment Tribunals and the High Court right up to the Supreme Court.

The Professional Guides

Alison is recommended as a national leader in the field for both employee and employer work in Chambers Guide and the Legal 500. They report feedback from clients and peers:


“Alison Downie of Goodman Derrick LLP is held in the highest regard by commentators. Her commerciallity is singled out for particular praise: 'With a sound business head she is outcome focused and sensitive to the needs of her clients' ” (2011)

“extremely astute and eminently sensible; she knows her stuff inside out and provides clear, thorough advice” (2009)

“A 'superb lawyer', Alison Downie now heads the Department. She handles tough cases in a “thorough, responsive, intellectually focused and charming manner. Downie acted for Peter Lewis in the much publicised case against HSBC, the first City compensation claim for sexual orientation discrimination” ( 2008)

Legal 500

The “passionate and likeable” Alison Downie heads Goodman Derrick LLP’s team” (2010/11)

“At Goodman Derrick LLP, the brilliant Alison Downie worked on the first, landmark sexual orientation discrimination case against the Church of England" (2009)

“Praised for her intellectual abilities Alison Downie leads the practice……..” ( 2008)

“The well respected Alison Downie….has been representing Peter Lewis in his ground breaking claim against HSBC … and a gay claimant turned down for a Church of England  appointment….” (2007)

Alison writes for and is regularly quoted in the media and press. Recent work includes a briefing in The Sunday Mirror on Army discrimination( April 2011), appearing on BBC Radio 4 Law In Action and TV current affairs programme Inside Out.

She lectures, trains and speaks at conferences including recently the PEEL Annual Conference 2010; The Law Society LMS Human Resources Forum 2009; Lexis Nexis/Butterworths “New Strand Discrimination” Conference November 2008, The Law Society’s Leadership Forum 2008.

Alison initiated with the Law Management Section and chaired The Law Society Women in Law Forum 2008.

Recent reported cases

Talbot v The General Federation of Trade Unions 2011

Alison acted for the GFTU in defending claims/application for injunction in the High Court in a dispute over the nomination and election of the next General Secretary of GFTU. The GFTU won at trial.

Professor Jeff Franks v Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London 2010

Acting for the Claimant, the founding Professor of the renowned Economics Department in his claims for compensation for gay discrimination. The case settled the day before hearing with an apology and compensation from the College to Professor Franks, who continues as Head of Economics Dept.

Peter Lewis v HSBC Bank plc

Alison acted for international senior banker Peter Lewis against HSBC plc in the high profile first City claim for sexual orientation discrimination, who won findings of gay discrimination by HSBC in the first Employment Tribunal case.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council and Norma Ndbele (“Undercover Angels” – Channel 4 award winning Dispatches programme)

Represented the undercover reporter nurse Norma Ndbele defending disciplinary proceedings brought because of her undercover work exposing lack of care of patients, resulting in Ms Ndbele successfully retaining her registration and right to practice.

John Reaney v Diocese of Hereford ( Church of England)

Alison acted for gay Christian John Reaney in his landmark successful claim against the Church of England in which he secured compensation for gay discrimination.


  • Lancaster Girls Grammar School
  • BA ( Hons) Middlesex University


Alison qualified as a solicitor in 1986 after training in Chancery Lane.

Alison joined Goodman Derrick LLP in February 2009 from Bindmans LLP where she was Head of Employment and partner. She was formerly a partner and managing partner at another large London law firm.

Alison was The Times Lawyer of the Week in May 2005.

Currently an Executive Committee member of The Law Society Law Management Section she was the elected Chair 2006 – 2008.

She was previously a Board Director and Trustee of national legal and drugs charity Release and Board Director of Release Publications Ltd (1991 to 2007) and Chair of Release 1992 to 2002.


  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • The Industrial Law Society
  • Discrimination Law Association
  • Association of Women Solicitors
  • Amnesty International
  • Justice
  • The Groucho Club