Ronnie Dennis

Ronnie is ranked as a leading junior in employment law, with particular expertise in discrimination and whistleblowing claims. He is regularly instructed to act for employers and employees in lengthy hearings in the Employment Tribunal, and has also acted as sole counsel in the Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal. Recent cases include a leading decision of the Court of Appeal on the burden of proof for discrimination under the Equality Act 2010: Ayodele v Citylink Ltd [2018] I.R.L.R. 114. Ronnie’s employment practice also includes acting for claimants and defendants in claims for breach of restrictive covenants and misuse of confidential information in the High Court.

Ronnie’s other main areas of practice are public law, public procurement and State aid. Since 2013 he has been instructed by Coventry City Council in the two leading cases on State aid in domestic law: R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (Nos 1 and 2). He also has a broad public law practice, acting for both claimants and defendants. Recent high profile cases include acting for the Secretary of State for Health in the junior doctors contract dispute, and defending a challenge to the Garden Bridge development.

Specialisms

Commercial

Ronnie has experience of acting for claimants and defendants in a broad range of commercial disputes, including claims for breach of contract and directors’ duties, economic torts, misuse of confidential information and breach of restrictive covenants.

Recent cases include:

  • Acting for a solicitors firm seeking an urgent interim injunction, at a hearing without notice, to prevent a solicitor from misusing confidential information about the firm’s clients;
  • Acting for an employer seeking an urgent interim injunction to prevent a former employee from soliciting or dealing with her former clients;
  • Acting for a sampling agency seeking an injunction to prevent a competitor from soliciting clients in breach of a contract for the sale of goodwill;
  • Acting for a property asset manager defending claims for negligence and breach of contract in connection with an interest rate hedging arrangement;
  • Acting for 11 employees defending claims of unlawful means conspiracy, breach of duty and restrictive covenants in a “team move” case;
  • Acting for a music management company in claims against two former employees for breach of fiduciary duty and unlawful means conspiracy.

Employment

Ronnie’s employment practice includes:

  • The full range of claims in the Employment Tribunal, with a particular emphasis on discrimination, victimisation and whistleblowing;
  • Employee competition claims in the High Court; and
  • Industrial relations disputes.

Recent cases include:

Ayodele v Citylink Ltd
[2017] EWCA Civ 1913, [2018] I.R.L.R. 114
The Court of Appeal ruled that employees bringing claims for discrimination still bear an initial burden of proof under the Equality Act 2010, despite the change in wording in s. 136 as compared with the pre-EqA legislation. Read more about the case here.

Merseyrail Electrics 2002 Ltd v RMT
(2017)
Ronnie acted for Merseyrail on its application for an injunction to prevent RMT members from going out on strike in connection with the introduction of driver only operated trains. Led by Bruce Carr QC.

  • Acting for a senior engineering manager bringing claims against a FTSE 100 company for sex/ maternity discrimination and unfair dismissal, in respect of acts committed both in the UK and whilst on assignment to the USA;
  • Acting for a leading UK housebuilder defending claims of disability and age discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal at a 10-day hearing;
  • Acting for over 70 female care workers employed at homes across the UK seeking equal pay with male maintenance operatives. Led by Sean Jones QC;
  • Acting for a national bank defending claims for discrimination, whistleblowing and automatic unfair dismissal on a TUPE transfer at a 15-day hearing. Led by Jane Mulcahy QC;
  • Acting for a high street bank defending claims for disability discrimination, failure to make reasonable adjustments and unfair dismissal at a 7-day hearing;
  • Acting for a national rail company defending its policy of paying shift premiums against claims for indirect sex discrimination;
  • Acting for a nationwide retailer defending claims for indirect sex discrimination and unfair dismissal arising out of a redundancy process at a 7-day hearing.

For examples of recent employee competition cases, see under “Commercial” above.

Public Law

Ronnie has acted in a broad range of judicial review claims on behalf of claimants and defendants, including challenges to decisions of local authorities and central government.

Recent cases include:

Hussain v Sandwell Metropolitan BC
[2017] EWHC 1641 (Admin), [2017] L.L.R. 713, [2017] A.C.D. 97
Green J dismissed a challenge brought by an elected member of the Council to on-going investigations into allegations against him. The Judge ruled that the Council had the power to investigate the allegations under s. 28 of the Localism Act 2011 and other provisions, and dismissed claims that the Council’s process was vitiated by actual or apparent bias because of comments made by an external investigator. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by James Goudie QC. Read more about the case here.

R (Justice for Health Ltd) v Secretary of State for Health
[2016] EWHC 2338 (Admin), [2016] Med. L.R. 599, [2016] A.C.D. 119
Green J dismissed a challenge to the Health Secretary’s decision to approve a new contract for junior doctors in the NHS in England. The Judge found that the decision was within the scope of his powers, complied with his duty of transparency and was not irrational. Ronnie acted for the Health Secretary, led by Clive Sheldon QC.

R (British Medical Association) v Secretary of State for Health (2016)
The BMA sought to challenge the Health Secretary’s decision to approve a new contract for junior doctors, on the grounds that he had failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty. Ronnie acted for the Health Secretary, led by Clive Sheldon QC.

R (O’Neill) v Lambeth LBC (2016)
Lang J dismissed a challenge to the Council’s decision to vary a lease on the South Bank of the River Thames as part of the Garden Bridge project. The Judge found that the decision was within the Council’s powers, did not involve any disposal of land under the LGA 1972, and that Reg. 13(1) of the Asset of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012 was intra vires. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by Clive Sheldon QC.

R (Logan) v Havering LBC
[2015] EWHC 3193 (Admin), [2016] P.T.S.R. 603
Blake J ruled that a Council Tax Reduction Scheme, under which all taxpayers paid some council tax except in cases of exceptional hardship, was not discriminatory on grounds of age or disability. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by Clive Sheldon QC.

R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council
[2014] EWHC 2089 (Admin), [2014] BLGR 616
Hickinbottom J ruled that the Council had not acted irrationally or failed to take account of relevant considerations when it made a loan of £14.4m to the company that manages the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by James Goudie QC.

Sky Blue Sports & Leisure Ltd v Coventry City Council
[2013] EWHC 3366 (Admin), [2014] B.L.G.R. 34, [2014] A.C.D. 48
Silber J refused an application for specific disclosure between permission to seek judicial review being refused on the papers and the oral renewal hearing.

Procurement & State Aid

Ronnie also specialises in State aid and public procurement.

He acted for Coventry City Council in the first domestic cases to consider the private investor/ vendor tests in State aid: R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (Nos 1 and 2). The Court of Appeal’s judgments in those cases are now the leading authorities in the area.

He also acts for public authorities and economic operators in all areas of public procurement.

Recent cases include:

R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (No. 2)
[2018] EWCA Civ 2252
The Court of Appeal refused permission to seek judicial review in a State aid claim brought by the owners of Coventry City Football Club. The Claimants sought to challenge a transaction between the Council and Wasps RFC for the sale of part of the Council’s interests in the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The Court upheld the Judge’s decision that the claim had no realistic prospect of success, because the Council had acted on independent valuation advice from KPMG. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by James Goudie QC.

R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (No. 1)
[2016] EWCA Civ 453
The Court of Appeal ruled that a loan of £14.4m from the Council to its half-owned subsidiary, Arena Coventry Ltd, did not constitute a State aid. The Court approved the Judge’s summary of the relevant legal principles for the private investor test in State aid. Applying those principles, a private investor in the Council’s position might also have made the loan to safeguard its 50% share in ACL. The loan therefore did not constitute a State aid. Ronnie acted for the Council, led by James Goudie QC.

R (Sky Blue Sports and Leisure Ltd) v Coventry City Council (No. 1)
[2014] EWHC 1747
Hickinbottom J refused the Claimants permission to rely on expert evidence in support of their State aid challenge.

  • Acting for a local authority defending a claim for breach of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 in connection with a tender for waste, recycling and street cleaning services. Led by Jason Coppel QC.
  • Advising a European goods manufacturer seeking to challenge a public procurement on the grounds of lack of objectivity, transparency and equality in the tender process.

Education

University of Oxford, Bachelor of Civil Law, Distinction & Law Faculty Prize

University College London, Law LLB, First Class

Recommendations

“He is laser-focused, client-friendly and a relentless cross-examiner.” Legal 500

“He adopts a collaborative approach and has the ability to get to the crux of a case quickly” Legal 500

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Regulatory Information

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Professional title: Barrister

Full name (as registered with Bar Standards Board of England and Wales): Ronnie Dennis

VAT Number: GB 165795266

Legal Status: Sole Practitioner

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