John Samson

Call date: 2001
Telephone number: 020 7400 9644

John Samson

Call date: 2001
Telephone number: 020 7400 9644

A strong reputation for his advocacy and advisory practice.

Legal 500 – 2020

Very hardworking and leaves no stone unturned

Legal 500 2018

…thorough, flexible and very sharp…

Legal 500 2017

…extremely approachable and includes the client at every turn.

Legal 500 2016

…seemingly inexhaustible. He looks at a problem from every angle.

Chambers 2015

…second-to-none work ethic and strong courtroom skills.

Legal 500 2015

a strong advocate…praised for his drafting skills and powers of analysis; ‘…unprecedented in terms of his willingness to deal with the detail in a case. He knows his brief better than any barrister I’ve come across’…

Chambers 2014

Noted for his knowledge of data protection related disputes.

Legal 500 2014

…substantial experience in defamation, privacy, Freedom of Information and data protection cases.

Legal 500 2013

…’fast becoming a star at the Libel Bar’…. considerable legal acumen…

Chambers 2013


Legal 500 2012

…a wealth of journalistic experience, which is a ‘massive boon’ in this market

Chambers 2012

……‘knowledgeable and able…’, John Samson is singled out.

Legal 500 2011

Practice areas

Media & sport 

LLB (First Class), Birkbeck School of Law, University of London
Bar Vocational Course (Very Competent), College of Law
CEDR Accredited Mediator

Highly experienced in all areas of both media and information and employment law, John acts for both claimants and defendants and regularly advises on personal and commercial matters.

Described in Legal 500 2017 as ‘thorough, flexible and very sharp’, John has a well-deserved reputation for his formidable advocacy and advisory practice. He has acted for diverse individuals as well as being instructed by publishers, film and TV production companies, local authorities, law firms, the police, public authorities, charities, trade unions, religious groups, private companies and public corporations.

Before joining Ely Place in 2005, John worked as in-house counsel for a niche media law practice, as an in-house lawyer for the Guardian Newspaper Group (Observer and Guardian) and as a freelance for Mirror Group Newspapers. Together with his time as a TV executive in documentaries before transferring to the bar 17 years ago, he has a deep understanding of journalism and media production and the associated legal issues.

John is instructed both as sole counsel and as a leading junior and has appeared in the High Court, Court of Appeal, Privy Council and the Information and Employment Tribunals.

John is a qualified and registered public access practitioner and accepts instructions as a CEDR accredited mediator.

John volunteers as a member of the Bar Pro Bono Unit and regularly attends the St George’s Cathedral weekly pro bono legal surgery for London’s Spanish speaking community providing advice and representation on employment and immigration issues.

Media & sport

John’s media and information practice includes: Confidence, Contempt, Copyright, Data Protection, Defamation, Entertainment Law, Freedom of Information, Harassment, Human Rights, Injunctive Relief, Malicious Falsehood, Media Law, Pre-publication Advice, Privacy and Reputation Management.

Among many notable and prominent cases, he has acted in the class action for construction workers in the blacklisting privacy claims, for a News Editor in the phone hacking litigation and in numerous actions in defamation including the longest running slander trial in English legal history.

John’s recent cases can be seen here

Dhir v Saddler (2017)
In a trial listed for November, the claimant alleges slander and claims in defamation, malicious falsehood and harassment. Issues arise in serious harm, abuse of process, justification and qualified privilege.  John acts for the defendant.

Jones v Cheshire Constabulary (2017)
A local councillor and former leader of Cheshire East Council complains about the conduct of a police investigation into the awarding of contracts by one of the largest spending local authorities in the North-West with allegations of defamation and misfeasance in public office against the police. John is acting for the local authority defendant.

Barkhuysen v Hamilton (2016-2017)
A land dispute between Cornwall village neighbours during which actress and film-maker Sharon Hamilton made allegations that she saw Anton Barkhuysen having sex with a pig after enticing it with doughnuts led to a week-long trial in slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and harassment.  John acted for the defendant.

Tracey Bell v Sam Ward & Others (2014-2017)
A successful chain of dentistry and beauty clinics and its founding CEO were the subject of Twitter attacks by former employees setting up a rival business two of whom are minor TV celebrities.  John acted for the claimants who made claims in defamation and malicious falsehood.

Smith v Skanska & Others (2013-2017)
John represented 150 claimants from the construction workers union UCATT in a complex, 3 year, high profile High Court Group Litigation action against all the major UK construction companies.  John’s clients received £9million in settlements. More than 3,000 workers had been secretly vetted over a 40-year period.  John initiated claims in misuse of private information, breach of confidence and defamation (in addition to claims for data protection breaches and conspiracy to cause loss by unlawful means).  For the first time the claim applied the law of privacy to new circumstances in the employment field.

Cliff Richard v South Yorks Police (2016)
John was instructed by the defendant in a far-reaching claim for damages in privacy.

McGrane v Sefton Borough Council (2015-2016)
A medical practitioner convicted of murder and sex offences made claims in defamation, data protection and negligence with damages pleaded at £2.7milion. John acted for the local authority defendant whose child protection measures were under attack.

Necon v ProEconomy (2015-2016)
An Irish fledgling business and its founder, providing life critical water purification systems for hospitals, made claims in defamation and malicious falsehood for statements by a business rival. John acted for the claimant.

Morleigh Homes v BBC Panorama (2016)
Pre-publication Advice: BBC documentary programme with undercover footage making serious defamatory allegations about the mismanagement of care homes by the owners and mistreatment of residents by the staff.

Diagnostics v Autoboss (2015)
A specialist on-line supplier of automotive parts made claims in defamation and malicious falsehood against a business rival for derogatory comments on its website.

Ansari v Knowles (2014)
A university lecturer claimed in libel and slander for allegations of personal misconduct and professional incompetence against four defendants including Manchester Metropolitan University, a former university colleague and Vilnius University. Vilnius settled the claim. The Court of Appeal agreed with Eady J that the settlement with Vilnius did not extinguish the claimant’s causes of action or that it had become an abuse of process to continue with his claim against the remaining defendants. John acted for the claimant. 

Topcoat Construction v Compromise Agreements (2014)
An early claim in defamation under the 2013 Act by a construction company involved in a number of substantial commercial contracts including the maintenance of social housing facing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption in publicity materials uploaded by a claims management company to its website resulting in immediate financial losses. Post publication injunction obtained. John acted for the claimant.

Selected privacy, media and harassment cases

  • Ansari v Knowles [2014] CP Rep 9
  • Allen v LB Southwark [2008] EWCA Civ 1478 (defendant, CA)
  • Wray v University of West Indies [2007] UKPC 14 (claimant, PC)
  • Maccaba v Lichtenstein [2005] EMLR 6; [2005] EMLR 9 (defendant, QB)
  • Mo George v News Group Newspapers (claimant, QB)
  • Pell v Express Newspapers [2005] EWCA Civ 46 (claimant, CA);
  • Tiscali v BT [2008] EWHC 2927; [2008] EWHC 3129 (defendant, QB)
  • Charterhouse Research v Richmond Pharmacology [2003] EWHC 1099 (defendant, QB)
  • Wallis v Valentine [2003] EMLR 175 (claimant, CA)

John has a broad practice in employment law in which he is regularly instructed in cases of breach of contract, unfair dismissal, discrimination, victimisation, holiday pay claims and TUPE.

In addition to a personal background in business as an employer before being called to the bar, John’s knowledge of media and information law is often called upon in an employment context where he has considerable experience in matters where reputation and employment matters merge.

John appears regularly in the higher courts and is often engaged on extended hearings and more complex and interdisciplinary matters.

His reported and notable cases can be seen here

Peninsula Business Services v Donaldson [2016] ICR 565
Critical EAT case holding that child-care voucher schemes which ‘divert’ existing salary are part of an employee’s remuneration and therefore are not a benefit to which there is an entitlement during maternity leave.

Chandock v Tirkey (2015] ICR 527
An important EAT decision on the extent to which the statutory definition of ethnic origin includes a claimant’s caste or status within a caste system. The decision also includes significant observations by the President on the requirement for parties to set out the essence of their cases in the pleadings. 

Sash Window Workshop v King [2105] IRLR 348
The Court of Appeal, on appeal from the EAT, referred questions to the ECJ on the retrospective entitlement to payment of an allowance in lieu of annual leave not taken on termination of employment.

Robinson v Bowskill [2014] ICR D7
An EAT finding that an employee learning of her dismissal from a third party does not prevent the acquisition of that knowledge from satisfying the test that a contract of employment is not effectively terminated until the employee knows of the dismissal notwithstanding the fact that a formal letter of dismissal had been sent but not yet received. 

Peninsula Business Services v Malik (2010) UKEAT/0340/08/RN
An ET decision set aside for inadequate reasoning. 

Peninsula Business Services v Rees (2009) UKEAT/0333/08/RN
The EAT remitted the case to a fresh tribunal on the basis of apparent judicial bias arising from the ET judge’s trenchant derogatory views on businesses such as that of the appellant made close to trial.

Redrow Homes (Yorkshire) v Buckborough [2009] IRLR 34
An early case on substitution clauses which distinguish a contract of employment from a contract for services establishing the principle of a sham not only where there is an attempt to deceive a third party but also where neither party intended to create the legal rights and obligations set out in the employment contract.

Wray v University of West Indies [2007] UKPC 14
The Privy Council held that the claimant was entitled to a declaration that his employer breached its contractual duty to give notice and a libel claim was not struck out but remitted to the Supreme Court of Jamaica.

Selected other employment cases include:

  • a respondent in multiple unfair dismissal and discrimination claims
  • two hundred claimants in a local authority TUPE case
  • a former Town Clerk in a constructive dismissal and whistle blowing claim
  • a respondent local authority in an unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and victimisation claim
  • a claimant in high value bonus claim
  • an SME in a constructive unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and whistle blowing claim
  • a shop steward claimant in an interim relief hearing
  • a respondent in multiple holiday pay claims
  • the claimants in mass ‘fire/rehire’ labour dispute with a local authority
  • commercial liability of third parties in relation to recovery of remedy damages
  • multiple claimants in redundancy and TUPE claims against a private contractor
  • a respondent in a claim for disability discrimination, unfair dismissal, harassment, breach of contract and whistleblowing

Regulatory information

Vat number: 468 8695 68

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