Clive Dobbin

Partner and Head of Employment, Southampton

Clive Dobbin

Partner and Head of Employment, Southampton


        Legal 500 Leading Individual 2021

I am a partner and head up our Employment team.  My main areas of expertise are in:

  • discrimination issues;
  • settlement agreements, including settlement agreements for senior executives often involving shareholder and restrictive covenant issues;
  • employment tribunal claims, including complex discrimination claims;
  • the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006; and
  • restrictive covenant and confidentiality issues.

I work closely with my clients, getting to know their businesses, so that I can provide commercially orientated practical advice, taking account of the particular needs and circumstances of each client.  I am an excellent strategist, ensuring that from the beginning of a matter or case I have agreed a clear way forward with my client.

I am responsive to the needs of my clients, ensuring a prompt response to queries.  I am also flexible in my approach, including in relation to fees.

I have a particular expertise in the education sector.  In this regard, I am vice chair of governors at Totton College, where I also chair the HR Committee, and am a member of the Audit Committee, Policy and Performance Committee and the Remuneration Committee.

I am a member of the management committee of the Employment Lawyers Association. I am also the Employment Lawyers Association’s representative on the Law Society Council.

Work highlights/reported Decisions:

  • Represented clients in respect of a number of substantial tribunal cases, including discrimination cases (including cases resulting in a 12 day, and a 20 day, tribunal hearing)
    and TUPE cases (including one resulting in a 9 day case on whether TUPE applied).
  • Represented clients in numerous cases before the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

Notable cases include:

  • Esso Petroleum Limited v Jarvis, EAT, 2002 – employment status of agency workers
  • Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham, EAT, 2013 – costs awards

Clive Dobbin leads the firm's employment practice. He regularly advises on senior-level exits, contractual issues and TUPE matters. "He's commercially aware and available at the drop of a hat."

Chambers & Partners Legal Directory 2021

Clients say "Clive Dobbin is very knowledgeable about employment law and has a strong public sector practice. He has a good eye for detail and a national reputation for sound commercial advice" and "He is very quick to respond and offers sound advice which always protects our organisation. Clive has great integrity and the culture fits well with our own, where honesty and transparent communication are key values".

Legal 500 2021 Edition

If you want honest, clear and experienced employment law advice then Clive Dobbin everytime! He literally saved my career!!

Name withheld

I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have you on the end of a phone throughout such a stressful experience. Your pragmatic and sensitive approach and ability to respond to my queries so quickly was enormously helpful.

Name withheld

I was very pleased with how Paris Smith helped me during my recent redundancy negotiations. Clive Dobbin was extremely professional, meticulous and approachable. He took the time and trouble to explain clearly and concisely any legal complexities as they arose, and gave me confidence that I understood the process from start to finish. Timely response to emails and was always happy to make time for a phone call if I needed to chat through any concerns.

Name withheld

Clive has provided advice to our company for many years now. His uncomplicated and pragmatic advice consistently provides us with clear direction on how to handle sensitive and potentially troublesome matters. His availability to take a call and talk through matters or turn-around documentation in short order is also invaluable.

John Donnelly - Cor Financial Group

I recently used Paris Smith to advice me on employment law following redundancy. I had clear and direct advice at each stage, which resulted in a successful settlement with my previous employer without going to tribunal. I would highly recommend the team at Paris Smith, who made a difficult and stressful situation so much more manageable.

Name withheld

We had the privilege of working with Clive Dobbin and his colleagues. Clive’s response to all of our requests was clear, quick and timely. He offered reassurance where necessary and clarity in sometimes confusing situations. His professionalism and support was outstanding and we cannot recommend him enough and will certainly be returning to Clive and Paris Smith for all our future legal requirements. Excellent service and truly great people!

Keith and Tess

I have known Clive through local channels for many years and knew he was highly respected. I decided to pass our next employment case to Clive. Clive kicked into gear quickly and efficiently. We won a very important case in regards of restrictive covenants and our costs got covered by the other side - very happy with that result. Clive is a no nonsense, practical, lawyer who gives us advice to be able make our decisions well and move our business forward.

Lorna Hayes, MD - Churches Fire

My company decided to seek a settlement agreement with me after very long service and Clive was recommended to me through two colleagues who he had represented previously in similar circumstances. He responded very quickly and set up communications with my company's legal representative. Clive established my contractual rights and advised me on the settlement deal that I should be aiming for, taking into account my thoughts and concerns. Clive was very aware of the stresses and pressure that this situation puts you under and allowed plenty of time for big decisions to be made. Clive was very clear when giving advice and ultimately a settlement was signed that I was very happy with. I would have no hesitation in recommending Clive to anyone who finds themselves in conflict with their employer and requires legal representation.

Regional Manager - Retail Sector

I am disabled. Following significant problems securing the reasonable adjustments I needed at work, I had to file a disability discrimination grievance against my employer. They carried out a flawed grievance investigation and the conclusions reached were entirely unsatisfactory. I contacted Clive Dobbin. He was able to meet at short notice, was very supportive and sympathetic, and had a clear strategic focus. Clive helped me write a grievance appeal letter, and advised on strategy, resolution negotiations, ACAS notification and a potential employment tribunal claim. Ultimately the grievance appeal was decided in my favour and I was able to continue in my job with appropriate reasonable adjustments for my disability. I was delighted with the outcome and would certainly recommend Clive to anyone in a disability discrimination dispute with their employer. 

Senior Employee - Education Sector

On deciding to retire from my employer after almost 33 years, my HR department produced a lengthy and complex 20 page document which I needed to review in detail and sign, but with the provision that it must be reviewed by a solicitor. It was very important to me that the lawyer was both knowledgeable and independent, and would advise me of any catches that may exist in the complex document. Clive Dobbin was excellent in the extent to which he reviewed the document and made some very helpful suggestions and changes to prevent the company potentially acting in a way that might perhaps have been significantly to my disadvantage. I would not hesitate to recommend him and indeed have already done so to a good acquaintance that may soon require some advice.

Senior Employee - Finance Sector

I am disabled. Following significant problems securing the reasonable adjustments I needed at work, I had to file a disability discrimination Grievance against my employer. They carried out a flawed Grievance investigation and the conclusions reached were entirely unsatisfactory. I contacted Paris Smith. They were able to meet at short notice, were very supportive and sympathetic, and had a clear strategic focus. The team helped me write a Grievance Appeal letter, and advised on strategy, resolution negotiations, ACAS notification and a potential employment tribunal claim. Ultimately the Grievance Appeal was decided in my favour and I was able to continue in my job with appropriate reasonable adjustments for my disability. I was delighted with the outcome and would certainly recommend the Paris Smith Employment Team to anyone in a disability discrimination dispute with their employer.

Senior Employee
Education Sector
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