Claire Palmer

Year of Call: 2003


Claire read Law at the University of Bristol. She was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in October 2003, and undertook her pupillage in an employment/commercial set in 2003/2004. She practised for nine years at a common law Chambers before accepting tenancy at 5 Essex Court in 2014.  Claire was appointed to the Attorney-General’s C Panel of Junior Counsel to the Crown in 2009 and to the B Panel in March 2014. Claire is regularly instructed by the Government and Police forces in a wide range of civil claims, inquests, judicial reviews and employment cases.

Claire’s clients say she “is personable and engaging as well as excellent with clients”, “gives concise, practical advice and is an effective and persuasive advocate”. She “represents the best of barrister qualities – she’s clear and articulate about the big picture, but in preparation her attention to detail is excellent.”


Claire has a wide experience of drafting and advocacy in employment matters. She has appeared as an advocate in the County Court, High Court and Employment Tribunals. Additionally, she has appeared at appellate level in both the EAT and Court of Appeal.

Claire undertakes both Claimant and Respondent work in the Employment Tribunal, ranging from small family employers to stock exchange listed bodies, and including political and sporting bodies and Government organisations. Her practice covers all areas of employment law, and she accepts instructions in Tribunals across the country. She has particular experience in employment status and agency law, having represented a number of employment agencies, and service complaints procedures relevant to the armed forces. Since her appointment to the Attorney General’s Panel, she has represented a number of Government departments including Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Health, the Home Office, GCHQ and the Ministry of Defence.

Claire is regularly instructed in fact-sensitive discrimination and whistleblowing complaints, and has considerable experience of disability discrimination claims. She has a strong record of striking out claims at the earliest opportunity, and is regularly called upon to act in cases involving senior Government employees.

Notable cases include:

  • Successfully representing a company who engaged a pilot as Chief Captain of a private plane in a 3-day hearing for unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, and breach of contract, including issues of employment status.
  • Representing a former finance director of an AIM listed company in a 5-day Tribunal hearing for equal pay, sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal etc. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum on day 3 after Claire had cross-examined the Chief Executive of the Respondents.
  • Successfully representing Millwall Football Club in a 2-day hearing involving unfair and wrongful dismissal from a former employee.
  • Successfully representing a Government department in a 10-day disability discrimination case.

Claire also appears in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. Reported cases include GCHQ v Bacchus [2012] Eq. L.R. 1002 and Jennings v Barts and the East London Trust [2013] Eq. L.R. 326 dealing with disability discrimination cases.

In March 2014, Claire appeared for the MOD in the first ever full merits hearing in the Industrial Disputes Tribunal in the Sovereign Base Area, Cyprus. She was called to the SBA Bar, and successfully defended the claim dealing with issues of TUPE, contract, unfair dismissal and redundancy.

Inquests and Public Inquiries

Claire is regularly instructed in inquests with particular experience of dealing with deaths in or on release from custody (including police and prison custody and immigration detention). She has an excellent relationship with clients who comment favourably on her pragmatic and straightforward approach to the process. Recent cases include:

  • Inquest for the Ministry of Justice in relation to a prisoner who confessed to the murder he had previously denied in the face of a high profile innocence campaign;
  • Inquest for a Police force including detailed consideration of the Prisoner Escort Record forms and information communication;
  • Three-week inquest for the MOJ relating to a death in custody;
  • Inquest for GCHQ in respect of the death of one of their employees.

Claire is instructed by the IPCC in the three-month public inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger which commenced on 17 January 2017.

Civil Claims

Claire also has considerable experience of general civil cases, both in connection with other areas of her practice such as inquests and employment disputes but also in general civil claims involving the Police and Government, in both the County Court and High Court.

Claire has undertaken a number of cases for the Government defending claims brought by ex-employees and prisoners for negligence, interference with property rights, personal injury, harassment, misfeasance in public office and alleged breaches of human rights. She has advised on a number of unlawful detention cases in respect of both immigration and police detention and is instructed by the MOJ in respect of a claim for misuse of private information by a prison officer arising out of Operation Elvedon.

She has particular experience of dealing with claims involving Police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service including malicious prosecution, misfeasance in public office, conspiracy allegations and Zenati claims and has a sound understanding of the legal and factual issues relevant to all parties in such claims.

Claire has been instructed on behalf of the Government as junior counsel in relation to a significant civil damages claim against it with allegations of harassment, breaches of human rights, negligence and misfeasance in public office.

Claire is regularly instructed by the Government in relation to cases with a national security element. She has acted for GCHQ (in an employment claim and an inquest) and the Security Service (in a challenge to the exclusion from the UK heard in SIAC). She is also regularly instructed in cases where Closed material procedures are in place in a wide range of courts including civil damages claims in the High Court, employment claims in the Tribunal, and naturalisation cases in SIAC. She has an understanding and interest in SVAP.

Claire undertakes judicial reviews in both the High Court and in the Sovereign Base Area (Cyprus). In the SBA, Claire has regularly acted for the SBA Police force and the Administration in respect of challenges to the local Police Discipline Regulations as well as in other civil and employment claims. She has recently been instructed in respect of a challenge to the Service Complaints Commission procedure.

Claire also undertakes advisory work for Government departments and Police forces. She has recently advised on the complex issues involved for police officers dealing with cloud computing in the context of searches of suspects’ premises.


In her early years of practice, Claire appeared regularly as an advocate in the Magistrates and Crown Court in both appeals and trials, and was on the CPS Prosecution list. Her experience covered offences of violence, drugs, theft, deception, false instruments, arson, and counterfeit goods, and she even undertook an ABH trial for Colin Farrell (sadly not the famous actor!). She has experience of ASBOs, proceeds of crime, closure orders and SOPOs. In 2011, she appeared in the Riot Cases in the Court of Appeal before the Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Thomas and Lord Justice Leveson.

Claire was a member of the London Board of Crimestoppers working alongside the Metropolitan Police and chairs her local Police SNT Ward Panel enabling her to see first-hand the challenges faced by officers in her local area. Combined with her experience of appearing in jury trials and her mixed criminal and civil experience, Claire understands the particular challenges facing police forces in the modern world. Claire’s criminal experience is also valuable advocacy experience.

Claire accepts instructions in all of Chambers’ practice areas.

Lectures / Training

Claire regularly gives lectures on topics including harassment, tactical approaches to employment litigation and managing performance at work.

Claire is an accredited advocacy trainer for Lincoln’s Inn and an approved pupil supervisor.