Labour Rights Institute


The London Labour Laws Discussion Group

The London Labour Laws discussion group (LLLdg) was set up in 2009 by a group of London-based labour law academics and practitioners

Quarto stato

It seeks to provide a forum for discussing, in an informal environment, current issues and recent developments in the field of labour law. For the purposes of the LLLdg, ‘labour law’ is broadly defined as including individual and collective labour law, and anti-discrimination and equality law, at a domestic, European, international, and comparative level.

The LLLdg meets two or three times a term, typically over a sandwich lunch or tea. While primarily composed of London-based labour law academics and graduate research students, the LLLdg is open to external participants and contributors, subject to prior notice to the group’s administrator.

Forthcoming events

You are invited to the 2017/18 London Labour Law Discussion Group sessions which are co-hosted by UCL and IALS this academic year. Please contact the organisers to let them know you're planning on attending. We have two sessions planned for this term, to which we hope you'll be able to join us:

DateTopic and Speaker
Tuesday, 14 November 2017, 5.30 - 7.30 pm

Towards Establishing a Global Industries Ombudsman

Professor Justin Malbon (Monash University)

For more information and to reserve a place, please click here.

Thursday, 7 December 2017, 6 - 7.30 pm

Human Rights and Implied Terms in the Contract of Employment

Joe Atkinson (UCL) with Professor Lizzie Barmes (Queen Mary) as commentator

Further information will be circulated closer to the time. 

We would also like to bring to your attention a few events at the IALS, and particularly the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Diamond Ashiagbor, 'Telling Stories on Law and Development', Thursday 26 October, 5.30-7pm. Further information on this and other IALS events can be found here.

Past events and papers

DateTopic and Speaker
6 December 2016

Domination and Global Labour Justice
Dr Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)

8 November 2016Reinforcing New Zealand’s Minimum Employment Standards
Speaker: Professor Gordon Anderson (Victoria University of Wellington, currently on research leave at KCL)
Tuesday 18 October, 5.30-7pm

Pervasive and Elusive - The concept of 'worker' in EU labour law
Professor Nicola Countouris (UCL)

Abstract: The paper seeks to explore the extent to which the development of an autonomous concept of ‘worker’ at the EU level would be desirable, practical, and legitimate. It begins by exploring the status quo in terms of the concept(s) of worker currently deployed in various areas of EU social law. On the basis of this analysis, it then proceeds to identify some of the protective gaps existing in the current scope of application of EU labour law ratione personae. This part of the paper posits that some gaps emerge as a consequence of the largely fragmented approach described in the earlier parts of the paper, but others are to a certain extent a consequence of the emergence of the Article 45 TFEU concept of ‘worker’ and its spread to various areas of EU labour law. That concept, it is suggested, lends itself to the criticism of being unduly premised on a crude binary divide between subordinate employment and autonomous self-employment in a way that does not assist much with the establishment of adequate working conditions amongst and increasingly diverse and segmented European workforce. Finally, the paper concludes by exploring alternative options and approaches for the redress of what is admittedly a fundamental gap in the panoply of the European Social Acquis.

Tuesday 8 November, 5.30-7pm

Reinforcing New Zealand’s Minimum Employment Standards
Professor Gordon Anderson (Victoria University of Wellington, currently on research leave at KCL)

Abstract: Over the last few years New Zealand’s National-led government has made a number of significant legal reforms intended to reinforce and improve the country’s minimum employment standards. In part this has been driven by events, particularly the Pike River Mine Explosion and publicity on the exploitative conditions on FCVs in New Zealand’s EEZ, but also by legal and political developments. The latter include the resurrection of the Equal Pay Act 1973, which has placed the issue of pay equity squarely on the political agenda, and the extensive publicity surrounding zero-hours contracting which resulted in legislative restrictions on such contracts. However many of the changes, and especially those relating to improved enforcement, were the result of government initiatives.
This seminar will give general outline of these developments but will focus on the two most significant of the reforms – those to health and safety law and the re-emergence of pay equity as a central political issue.

Tuesday 6 December, 5.30-7pmDomination and Global Labour Justice
Dr Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)

Abstract: Non-domination, according to Philip Pettit, is about the power to exercise control over one’s own destiny, the power of agents to prevent ills from happening to them (Republicanism, 67). Domination consists in the ability to exercise power over others arbitrarily, even if that power is not in fact exercised. Much of the literature focuses on domination at national level. However, there is also a line of scholarship that discusses relationships of domination in the global order. In this context, it is suggested that states, global institutions and non-state actors, such as corporations, can exercise arbitrary power abroad. In this paper, I discuss domination in the context of global labour justice. Domination can capture well structural injustices in the global order (Bachvarova, 2013). It also captures situations where structural vulnerability exists, without the actual exercise of arbitrary power. Here, I consider the extent to which corporations exercise domination and actually engage in systematic exploitation of workers outside national borders, and assess the role of the legal system in this context. I also consider what the role of the law can be in minimizing domination and workers’ exploitation in the global labour landscape.

15 March 2016Workfare Policies and Employment Contracts
Speaker: Adriana Topo
1 March 2016Exploitation and Labour Rights
Speaker: Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)
19 January 2016The European Social Charter, EU Law and the ILO: Convergence or Dissonance in the Adjudication of International Labour Standards
Speaker: Colm O'Cinneide (UCL) 
14 December 2015Reappraising Dominant Narratives in Labour Law: Informal Work in the Global North and the Global South
Speaker: Diamons Ashiagbor
16 November 2015Do Corporations Increase Inequality?
Speaker: Ewan McGaughey
27 April 2014Regulating fragmented work: can employment law learn from recent developments in Tort law? 
Jeremias Prassl (Oxford)
Discussant: Simon Deakin (Cambridge)
19 February 2014British Codetermination and the Churchillian Circle
Dr Ewan McGaughey (LSE)
10 February 2014Transnational Social Dialogue in the EU: Legal Basis and Legal Enforceability of Transnational Company Agreements
Professor Silvana Sciarra (Florence) 
Chaired by John Hendy QC (Chair of the Institute of Employment Rights http://www.ier.org.uk/)nn 
Report to the European Trade Union Confederation titled Towards a Legal Framework for Transnational Company Agreements: 
20 November 2013What A sham: Outsourcing Public Services and the Limits of Law
Amir Fuchs (Sussex)
Discussant: Lizzie Barmes (QMUL)
16 October 2013Contextualizing Conflict Over Individual Labour Rights 
Lizzie Barmes (QMUL)
15 May 2013Balancing Employer and Employee Interests: Legitimate Expectations and Proportionality under the Acquired Rights Directive
Ioannis Skandalis (Oxford)
19 March 2013, Joint event with SOASLabour Market Segmentation and Women’s Work: Labour Law’s Conundrum
Judy Fudge (University of Victoria)
27 February 2013

Do Irregular Migrants Have a Right to Work?
Virginia Mantouvalou (UCL)
Discussant: Hugh Collins (LSE)

23 January 2013The Notion of the Employer
Jeremias Prassl (Oxford)
Discussant: Hugh Collins (LSE)
13 December 2012Teaching Round Table with Diamond Ashiagbor (SOAS), Lizzie Barmes (QMUL) and others tbc (plus end of term party!)
24 October 2012A Multi-level theory of the contract of employment: the integration of relational, economic, and legal dimensions
Hugh Collins (LSE)
2 May 2012Reasonableness in Labour Law 
Professor Piera Loi (Università di Cagliari)
23 April 2012Reform Fatigue: Australian Labour Law in the Late 20th/Early 21st Centuries
HH Mr Justice Walton (Vice President of the Industrial Relations Court of New South Wales)
6 March 2012Labour Law or the Law of the Labour Market?
Dr Ruth Dukes (University of Glasgow)
9 February 2012Job Security in a Flexible Labour Market
Dr Wanjiru Njoya (London School of Economics and Political Science)
July 2011A 'Right' to Legal Representation (in the Workplace) during Disciplinary Proceedings?: Part Two 
Dr Astrid Sanders
Beyond Discrimination: Dress Codes and Sexual Harassment by Customers
Dr Einat Albin
February 2011When Agency Workers Should be Treated Differently
Ewan McGaughey (LSE) will introduce his paper on the above, a first version of which is available in the LSE working paper series, here:
November 2010Can Sen's Theory of Capacities guide Labour Law? - A Debate
Brian Langille and Hugh Collins
September 2010Protection of Labour Rights under the European Social Charter
Colm O'Cinneide (Vice-President of the European Committee of Social Rights/UCL)
May 2010A Round-table on Labour Law as a Taught Subject
March 2010Balkanising the workplace? Religion, belief and the professional sphere 
Professor Aileen McColgan (KCL)

February 2010


Labour Law Reform in Australia - Lessons for Brown from the Rudd Government
Professor Breen Creighton

About the speaker: 
Breen Creighton is a consultant in industrial law at Corrs Chambers Westgarth since 1997. Immediately before that, he was Professor of Law and Legal Studies at LaTrobe University. Since June 1998, Breen has been a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Law at The University of Melbourne. Breen led the National Workplace Relations practice group from June 2001 to June 2003. Breen held academic appointments at the Universities of Edinburgh (1972-77) and Melbourne (1977-88). From 1988 until 1991, he was a principal legal officer in the Freedom of Association Branch of the ILO in Geneva. During 1991 to 1992, he worked as a consultant to an Interdepartmental Task Force on Ratification of ILO Conventions, which was established by the federal Minister for Industrial Relations in May 1991.
January 2010The Right to Strike
John Hendy QC (Old Square Chambers)

About the speaker:
John Hendy QC is a barrister at Old Square Chambers, where he practices predominantly in the area of industrial relations and labour law. He is a Visiting Professor at King's College London, and is currently visiting at UCL where he teaches on the European Employment and Equality Law course at LLM level. He has appeared as counsel for various trade unions in a number of high profile cases such as Aslef v UK and Wilson, Palmer & ors v UK.

His presentation focussed on the right to strike in light of recent decisions of the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, and in the domestic judicial arena.

December 2009

The Case for Social Rights
Dr Virginia Mantouvalou

About the Speaker: 
Dr Mantouvalou is a Lecturer at the University of Leicester, where she teaches European law, Human Rights, and Labour Law related subjects. She is currently working on a book arguing for social rights in a debate with Conor Gearty.

Her presentation focussed on her current research, and she has kindly shared with us the blurb of her forthcoming publication C. Gearty and V. Mantouvalou, Debating Social Rights (Hart, Oxford, 2010).

In the book Debating Social Rights, which is part of the new series ‘Debating Law’ (Peter Cane, series editor), Conor Gearty and Virginia Mantouvalou debate the legal enforcement of socio-economic entitlements.

Virginia Mantouvalou argues that social rights, defined as entitlements to the satisfaction of basic needs, are as essential for the well-being of the individual and the community as civil and political rights, whose legal protection is long established and now well accepted. The real question in our post Cold War era is how best to give effect to rights to socio-economic provision, rather than whether we should enforce them at all. The author claims that the legal protection of social rights is an invaluable tool in our endeavour to combat poverty and promote social justice. Drawing on examples from several jurisdictions, she argues that social rights and their judicial protection through bills of rights and human rights treaties can advance, rather than undermine democracy, before going on to explore the role and usefulness of alternative methods of protection of socio-economic entitlements.

Conor Gearty acknowledges the value of rights language in today’s legal and political order. It is certainly the case that the concept of human rights has historically functioned as an ideological support for capitalism, postulating a commitment to formal individual freedom and liberty that has been presented as part of a natural rather than a created order. But this is an incomplete account of the term. Human rights are not solely about civil and political rights, and nor do they lack a progressive, emancipatory (indeed a subversive) dimension. To work effectively as promoters of the social, this wider view of rights needs to be kept as as far away as possible from the courts. Lawyers – even well-intentioned lawyers – damage the achievability of the kind of radical transformation in the priorities of states that a genuine commitment to social rights would surely necessitate.