Lewis Silkin challenges Merrill Lynch

Lewis Silkin’s employment team is battling its largest ever employment tribunal matter, with the firm taking the lead for former Merrill Lynch banker Stephanie Villalba in her sex discrimination claim against the bank.

Joint head of employment James Davies is leading the Lewis Silkin team, instructing leading employment junior Dinah Rose of Blackstone Chambers.

Lovells, led by partner Lisa Mayhew, is advising Merrill Lynch and instructing Nicholas Underhill QC of Fountain Court Chambers and Thomas Linden of Matrix Chambers.

The hearing began on 8 June at the South London Employment Tribunal in Croydon, where skeleton arguments were submitted on behalf of both the applicant and the respondent.

If successful, it will be the largest-ever sex discrimination payout in the UK. Estimates put the value of the claim at around £7m.

The case is another boon for the employment team at Lewis Silkin. On 1 April, the firm opened in Oxford with the hire of a three-lawyer team from Boodle Hatfield, led by partner Russell Brimelow. Former Allen & Overy senior associate Jonathan Carr has also joined the office.

This weekend, the five-fee-earner Oxford team moves into new premises, with the capacity for 20 staff.