Hot 100: Joanna Blackburn, Mishcon

Head of the employment department at Mishcon de Reya Joanna Blackburn runs one of the largest teams in London, with 27 fee-earners and seven partners.

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And while Blackburn and her team have handled a string of major matters over the years, few have garnered the same level of attention as 2012’s Bates van Winkelhof case.

Former Clyde & Co partner Krista Bates van Winkelhof alleged that she was ejected from Clydes after blowing the whistle on alleged bribery and corruption by Kibuta Ongwamuhana, the managing partner of Clydes’ Tanzanian associate firm Ako Law. Alongside the whistle-blowing claims, Bates van Winkelhof, who was pregnant at the time of her exit from Clydes, brought a sex discrimination claim, which continues.

Matrix Chambers’ Tom Linden QC, instructed by Blackburn to lead the case, is handling the matter pro bono, as is David Craig of Essex Court Chambers. “There’s no doubt they recognise the significance of the case from a personal and legal perspective,” says Blackburn.

Commenting on the Court of Appeal’s holding that a partner has no protection from whistle-blowing laws, she adds: “It’s a huge lacuna in the law.”

Blackburn and her team have sought leave to appeal this year.

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