Barrister Catherine Rayner

Catherine Rayner

Year of call: 1989  


“A strong performer.”



Catherine Rayner practices in employment; discrimination and regulatory law and advises on contract and discrimination issues in sports law. She is cited as a leader in her field in Legal 500 and is ranked in chambers and partners.

She is an experienced appellate advocate, and reported cases in the EAT and Court of Appeal indicate the breadth of her experience and expertise. Reported cases from the last decade concern employment status; whistle blowing; collective agreements; equal pay; TUPE; race and disability discrimination.

She works for claimants and respondents including many large trade unions; healthcare workers; NHS trusts; high street businesses; international commercial organisations; manual workers; police officers; senior managers; bankers and a lap dancer. She has particular expertise in conducting complex litigation in multi claimant local authority equal pay litigation, and in long running discrimination and status cases.

Catherine is a regular speaker at seminars and training events, and a contributor at seminars organized by the European Rights Academy at Trier in Germany, training judges and lawyers from across Europe. She is a regular contributor on discrimination law for Legal Action Group Magazine and a regular contributor to a variety of other legal and HR Publications.

Public Access:

Catherine is qualified to accept instructions direct from clients under the Bar Council’s Public Access Scheme. This means that members of the public who seek specialist advice can come direct to her. In addition, she welcomes instructions from solicitors, in-house law departments, qualified foreign lawyers, and clients licensed by the Bar Council to give instructions direct to barristers under the Bar Council’s Licensed Access Scheme.

For further information please contact our clerks.



“An experienced employment and discrimination barrister, who is client-friendly in her approach.” Legal 500 2016

Catherine has over 20 years’ experience of employment and discrimination law and has advised and litigated in most areas. The discipline she has in-depth expertise in is handling complex discrimination and equal pay disputes between local authorities and multiple claimants, and of long running litigation in status and equality claims.

She is recognised as a leader in her field by legal 500, both for her work on discrimination and equal pay and for her expertise in legalities of employment status. Recent cases have covered issues of employment status and mutuality of obligation; bank workers performance; related pay and variation of contract; disability and mental health issues; race and religious discrimination; sex discrimination and constructive dismissal.

Catherine appears regularly in the ET; the EAT and the Court of Appeal, She has broad experience of negotiation and mediation in discrimination and whistle blowing cases and in contractual and termination disputes at all levels.


  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • Discrimination law Association
  • Industrial law Association

Bonus Cases Employment Status Equality & Discrimination Equal Pay Industrial Action & Collective Labour Law Termination Of Employment TUPE Whistleblowing & Victimisation

Bonus Cases

Catherine has advised on issues around bonus pay, both in the context of large scale equal pay claims and as equality aspects of banker’s bonus pay.

She has also advised on the practical implications of maternity leave and pay and bonus pay, and solutions for avoiding discrimination.

Employment Status

Catherine has in depth expertise and experience of advising on and representing in claims arising from worker/employee status. She appeared as leading counsel in Tilson, a case concerning the construction of a contract with a 4 way agency agreement, and the key question of whether the ET finding of a sham contract was correct in law, and represented Ms Quashie at ET, on the question of whether her working arrangements as a lap dancer for Stringfellows over a period of several years, could give rise to a contract of employment. She was also junior counsel in Quashie V Stringfellows before both the EAT and the CA. She has also advised and represented in many cases for business and individuals, dealing with changes of contract, the construction and validity of agency agreements, and the factual questions of control and the right to substitute. She contributes regularly to seminars and training sessions for both claimants and employers, on worker and employee rights, and the interpretation and importance of contracts and verbal agreements.

Equality & Discrimination

Catherine has broad expertise in all areas of discrimination law gained from over 20 years working with individuals, trade unions and employer and professional organisations. She is a forceful advocate, noted by chambers and partners as particularly good at equality and discrimination and is recognised by her peers for her strong courtroom performance. In the last decade she has represented clients in discrimination matters before the ET, EAT and Court of Appeal, as well as the County Court, and in the Mental Health Appeal tribunal. Recent cases have included gender reassignment; sight and mobility disabilities; mental health and reasonable adjustments in a disciplinary hearing, race and religious discrimination during an investigation of bullying, harassment and victimization of a complainant of sexual harassment; reasonable adjustments in redundancy procedures, and sexual harassment.

She has wide experience in disability and adjustments cases, from cases involving mental health, including depression, borderline personality disorders; obsessive compulsive disorder as well as physical disability. She has worked with voluntary organisations including MIND and with Action for Blind People and also has particular expertise in dealing with autism spectrum cases.

Catherine has particular expertise in indirect discrimination cases, having successfully represented indirect gender discrimination claims arising from shift patterns for women with childcare responsibilities and indirect race discrimination in civil service pay scales as well as advising and representing in large equal pay cases.

Catherine advises organisations and business on best practice in avoiding discrimination, particularly in recruitment and selection and in disability issues. She is a regular speaker and trainer on discrimination issues, and writes a regular discrimination law update for Legal Action.

Equal Pay

As a lawyer at the forefront of Equal Pay claims in the last decade, Catherine has gained in-depth expertise in handling complex disputes between local authorities and multiple claimants. Catherine successfully advised and represented the claimants in Coventry City Council v Nicholls in one of the first bonus payment claims to succeed before the ET. She was junior counsel before the EAT hearing of the respondent’s appeal and at the unsuccessful application to the Court of Appeal.

Catherine also represented the Nicholls claimants on a continuing basis before numerous procedural hearings dealing with remedies, time limit issues, and rehearing on the question of pay protection, and throughout lengthy settlement negotiations.

Catherine was instructed as standing counsel for the North West region GMB equal pay claims, and advised on and appeared in numerous hearings on matters of procedure, pensions and TUPE arising from Equal Pay litigation for many groups of claimants in many local authorities. Issues about the grievances raised by litigants were considered in Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council & Anor v Hincks & Ors UKEAT/0092/11/SM.

In the private sector, Catherine has experience of pay claims in the banking sector and in the manufacturing sector, and has successfully litigated and negotiated settlements for many clients in a variety of fields.

She is a regular speaker on European legal principles of equal pay at conferences organised by the European Rights Academy in Trier, training judges and lawyers from across Europe in the legal principles and practical application of European equal pay law.

Industrial Action & Collective Labour Law

AIB v Fletcher and others in which Catherine appeared for the claimants instructed by the bank workers union, concerned the attempt by the bank to vary an agreement for performance pay. The ET and the EAT examined the collective agreements and the contracts of the workers, as well as the process of the purported variation, determining that there had been no valid variation of contract, and that the failure to pay the performance pay to the claimants was unlawful.

Termination Of Employment

Catherine has advised and represented in many cases of unlawful termination, and dismissal and has particular expertise in Unfair Dismissal cases involving misconduct for alleged dishonesty and the particular evidential and procedural issues raised.

Catherine also has particular expertise in mediation and negotiation of settlement both in discrimination cases and whistleblowing claims.


As counsel for one of the claimants in Pannu v Geo King, Catherine explored the issues relating to service provision changes before the ET and the EAT. She has since advised a number of organisations and claimant groups on whether TUPE applies where and whether there is a service change.

Catherine has experience in a range of TUPE issues arising in the context of Equal Pay claims, following contracting out of services and the question of whether TUPE applies to the claimant group, and if so what the effect is on contract terms. This was of particular importance in the context of pension transfer and back pay for equal pay.

Whistleblowing & Victimisation

Catherine has advised and represented a number of high profile whistleblowers on legal rights, the parameters of the legislation, and has also successfully mediated agreements for settlement. As counsel for Mr Babula before the EAT and junior counsel before the EAT, she argued successfully that the reasonable belief of her client in the existence of a legal provision, where there was in fact none, should not deprive him of the legal protection of a whistleblower.

Employment Cases

Regulatory & Professional Discipline

Regulatory & Professional Discipline

Catherine advises and represents Claimants before a range of medical and health care panels.

As counsel for Dr Whitefield in Whitefield v General Medical Council [2002] UKPC 62, [2003] IRLR 39 she argued as counsel then as junior counsel, that the Human Rights Act applied to the restrictions placed on practice. The case was heard by the Privy Council under the old procedures.

More recently, Catherine has acted for many nurses before the Nursing and Midwifery Council on both discipline and health matters, and before the Health care Professional Council on matters of discipline.

Catherine also works on the professional regulation of barristers, and in particular advises on matters of equality and diversity as a regulatory requirement in recruitment and selection procedures.

Regulatory & Professional Discipline Cases

  • Whitefield v General Medical Council [2002] UKPC 62, [2003] IRLR 39: A case examining the professional regulation of doctors, through the GMC disciplinary and fitness to practice hearing, with appeal to the Privy Council, on questions of Natural Justice and Human Rights in the context of the withdrawal of practising certificate.
Sports Law

Sports Law

Catherine is a member of the sports law team with particular interest in the contract, discrimination and regulatory aspects raised. She has expertise in advising and representing in many cases before many courts and tribunals on matters of discrimination, particularly regarding gender, race and disability, and sexuality and gender reassignment.

She has particular expertise of advising on policies and procedures to deal with harassment and abuse in many organisations and transferable skills in relation to regulation, contracting, employment matters and discrimination both within sport and within the organisation of sport.

How to get in touch

For more information please contact our clerks by calling +44 (0) 20 7242 3555 or by email.

Legal-500-Leading-Individual Chambers-UK-Leading-Barrister

Privacy Notice

Catherine is committed to protecting and respecting the privacy of individuals. In order to provide legal services, including advice and representation services, Catherine needs to process personal data. This will include client’s personal data and the personal data of others who feature in the course of any matter upon which she is instructed.

Catherine will process personal data in accordance with her Privacy Policy.

Please click here to see how Catherine will, absent any other arrangement with those instructing her, fulfil any Joint Controller responsibilities she may have under relevant data protection legislation.

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