Matthew Smith Partner

Photograph of Matthew Smith

Contact Details

“Matthew Smith specialises in contentious employment work, frequently representing schools, universities and NHS organisations. A client says: "He is an utter gentleman, and a fount of knowledge and patience."”

Chambers and Partners 2019

“We have the upmost trust and faith in Matthew and we always feel assured having spoken to him.”

HR Business Partner Global High Fashion Brand

“Especially adept in all aspects of non-contentious and contentious employment matters and has chaired a number of disciplinary and appeal hearings for universities.”

Legal 500 2018
Matthew heads our national Education Sector practice. Matthew also provides employment advice to key clients in the Education, Health & Social Care, Retail & Leisure and Financial Services Sectors. Matthew is a supervisor of Employment Tribunal work amongst other matters.

Matthew deals with employment-related litigation at all levels from the Employment Tribunal to the Supreme Court. He is an expert advisor on claims of unfair dismissal, sex, race, disability, age and other discrimination and whistleblowing cases and an experienced chairman of internal disciplinary and appeal hearings for clients. Matthew also has experience in large scale reorganisations and redundancy exercises.

Higher Education

Matthew leads the Education Sector for the firm. He is particularly experienced in dealing with disciplinary and grievance proceedings and other issues raised by employees, including discrimination claims.  For example, Matthew and his team have dealt with cases for universities in the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal and have successfully defended claims of unfair dismissal, alleged discrimination in a range of contexts (including race, sex, disability, religion and age), whistleblowing and TUPE transfers. In a number of recent cases, the team has also obtained substantial costs awards in favour of our university clients.

Matthew has considerable experience of the interpretation of the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances of university clients in an employment context. He has also chaired a number of disciplinary and appeal hearings, sitting alongside panel members drawn from the academic staff or from the university’s governing body. 


Matthew has provided advice on wide-ranging restructurings and reorganisations in the NHS, including the implications of Agenda for Change and the NHS Wales “Organisational Change Policy”. He has also acted for LHBs and NHS Trusts in a number of Employment Tribunal cases across a range of issues and involving both medical and non-medical staff. Many of these cases have involved allegations of discrimination or whistleblowing, as well as claims of unfair and wrongful dismissal and other claims across the spectrum of employment rights.

Matthew also advises LHBs in the specialist and sensitive area of the disciplining and dismissal of doctors and the particular considerations which arise in such cases.

Financial Services

Matthew has broad experience in this sector, including conducting Employment Tribunal cases for one of the UK’s leading retail banks and advising the Principality Building Society.

Retail and Leisure

Matthew leads our retail employment team and provides expert, practical advice to some of the UK's leading retailers and brands.

Matthew has also devised and contributed to a wide variety of training seminars across the spectrum of employment law issues. He has made a number of appearances on BBC Radio and as a speaker at employment law conferences.


Matthew has advised a wide range of clients in the Education Sector including the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bristol, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea and a number of further education institutions.

Matthew also acts for a number of leading retailers and brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Russell & Bromley and Diesel. 

In the health sector, Matthew acts for a variety of NHS organisations, including in the specialist area of disciplining doctors.

Significant experience 

  • Acting for Serco in the House of Lords (now Supreme Court) case of Lawson v Serco Ltd [2006] UKHL 3
  • Acting for Swansea University & the Trustees of Swansea University Pension Scheme in the leading case on "unfavorable treatment" under the Equality Act 2010. The case is reported in the EAT at [2015] IRLR 885 and is now before the Court of Appeal.

Higher Education

  • Matthew heads our Education Sector, where we are a nationally recognised adviser to Higher & Further Education institutions and to state and independent schools.
  • Matthew's experience includes successfully defending multi-day discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal and EAT, including obtaining two costs awards of £10,000 against unsuccessful claimants.

Health & Social Care

  • Being one of 3 employment partners leading our advice to the whole of the NHS in Wales.
  • Assisting NHS clients in a number of successful (and sensitive) restructurings including at executive level.
  • Successfully defending a health sector client in a multi-day whistleblowing and unfair dismissal complaint, achieving the dismissal of the claims and a substantial costs award.

Financial Services

  • Defending a major UK retail bank in a number of Employment Tribunal cases, with a 100% success rate.
  • Acting for Wales’ leading building society, the Principality Building Society.

Media quotes 

Matthew has recently been quoted in Payroll World in an article on collective redundancies.

Matthew discusses Hereford's Sixth Form's conversion to an Academy in Academy Today.

“A fantastic lawyer.”

Chambers UK 2018

“Extremely professional … very approachable and nothing is too much trouble.”

Ms. B Russell & Bromley Limited


Articles by Matthew

Supreme Court rules on meaning of ‘unfavourable treatment’


Matthew Smith discusses a recent Supreme Court decision that confirmed a common-sense approach to the meaning of ‘unfavourable treatment’ under section 15 of the Equality Act 2010.

How to avoid unfavourable treatment


How can employers avoid treating employees unfavourably because of something arising in consequence of their disability?

What have recent legal cases revealed about employment status?


Partner Matthew Smith discusses if it matters if someone is called an ’employee’ or a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed’ in Employee Benefits.

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