Paul Johnstone


Paul has 25 years’ experience as a qualified solicitor acting as a specialist employment and equality law adviser for clients in the public and private sectors including large scale corporations, schools and universities, charities and individuals. Paul held non-executive appointments on the board of Equality North East and acted as an adviser to the Equality and Diversity Committee of Newcastle University for many years. Paul joined Collingwood Legal as a Partner in 2015.

Paul is recommended in the Legal 500 Tier 1 rankings as a Leading Individual in the North East.


Examples of Paul’s experience include:

  • Successfully prosecuting and defending Employment Tribunal claims covering a wide range of complex legal issues.
  • Providing organisations with practical, commercial “real-world” advice on complex legal issues such as TUPE, restructuring, ICO investigations and discrimination claims.
  • Providing knowledgeable legal advice to high-net worth individuals on exit strategies.
  • Devising and delivering specialist training on legal and procedural operations for managerial leadership and development programmes.
  • Paul advises clients on complex employment law issues including highly sensitive discrimination claims, executive severance and cross-border issues.
  • Paul is a recognised specialist adviser on equality and discrimination law in both employment situations and in the provision of services to members of the public.
  • Paul has an excellent track record of achieving successful results for clients in litigation proceedings at the employment tribunal and recently successfully dealt with a highly sensitive and complex investigation with the Information Commissioner’s Office relating to the collation and processing of personal data under the provisions of GDPR.

Noteworthy cases

  • Advising a clothing manufacturer in relation to the liquidation of a national retailer and the consequential TUPE implications of outsourcing commercial contracts involving a multi-party action with significant financial liabilities for claims totalling in excess of £1 million – successfully defending that action on behalf of our client.
  • Successful prosecution of a sex discrimination claim for a senior female executive resulting in an award of damages in the region of £250,000.
  • Successful prosecution of unfair dismissal claim for a teacher in the senior management team resulting in a maximum award for unfair dismissal compensation.
  • Successful prosecution of a claim of disability discrimination for a client with Motor Neurone Disease – securing a significant award of financial compensation for the client and a costs award against the claimant in excess of £30,000.
  • Advising a client in the care sector on highly sensitive matters resulting in summary dismissal and criminal prosecution for gross misconduct and breach of professional standards relating to a number of care workers and managers.
  • Co-ordinating and managing the strategic corporate integration of the workforces of 2 large facilities management companies post completion of a £200 million takeover. The legal advice covered collective consultation with trade union representatives and the election of employee representative committees and advising on complex TUPE and redundancy scenarios across a UK wide workforce. – with the outcome of not a single ET claim being made against the client.

What people say about Paul

  • “Paul Johnstone is an incredible teacher, mentor, guide for our senior managers. They have an enormous amount of trust in his knowledge and ability. He is a fantastic communicator who is able to ensure our staff understand the complexities of Employment Law.” -(Legal 500 2023)
  • “Paul is responsive and dependable but most of all incredible knowledgeable in his field of work.” -(Legal 500 2023)
  • “Paul has had a huge influence on our organisational culture when it come to positive employment practice. He is a key reason for our rating of “Outstanding” from our CQC regulators.” –(Legal 500 2023)
  • “Paul Johnstone is an asset to our organisation.” –(Chambers UK Legal Guide 2023)
  • “His pragmatic and considered approach as well as his responsiveness really help us focus on the key risks involved.” –(Chambers UK Legal Guide 2023)
  • “Paul Johnstone inspires an ‘enormous amount of trust in his knowledge and ability’” – (Legal 500 2023)
  • “Paul is extremely knowledgeable and provides practical advice.” – (Chambers and Partners 2022)
  • “We have a great deal of faith in his advice and the support he provides – he responds promptly and often guides us through complex situations.” – (Chambers and Partners)
  • He has been recommended as a notable practitioner in Chambers legal directory for a number of years and was praised by one client as a “very effective advocate” who is “robust in Tribunals and stands firm when the occasion demands.”
  • Another client describes Paul as “honest, understanding and empathetic”, adding: “I value his confident and professional approach and his ability to pursue and secure a successful outcome.”
  • Paul is “local, responsive, incredibly knowledgeable and enabling” and “very practical” – (Client)

Outside of work

Paul enjoys spending time with his family and his dog. Paul is an avid reader of literary fiction and a writer-composer member of the Performing Rights Society. Paul continues to maintain a lifelong passion for going to gigs, songwriting and playing music.


The firm offers a tight, professional, exemplary service. It's enthusiastic, sympathetic and reassuring.

Chambers and Partners

Small enough to care, large enough to battle.

Chambers and Partners

The firm is outstanding; they always go the extra mile to ensure the information given is accurate, informative and can be administered with as much ease as possible.

Chambers and Partners

The team is always pragmatic and looks at the wider issues. They keep me calm, playing the long game and considering all the tactics and policies. They work as a team and everybody is always fully briefed. Good value for money.

Chambers and Partners

A very efficient, responsive, knowledgeable and flexible team. They are keen to accommodate our specific needs, like delivering training sessions targeting our requirements. They provide reliable service.

Chambers and Partners

We could not be happier with the firm. They are local, responsive, incredibly knowledgeable and enabling.

Chambers and Partners

Comprehensive advice tailored to practical situations. Collingwood Legal demonstrate a real understanding of the employers perspective. Would have no hesitation in recommending to other businesses.

HR Director – Construction firm

Collingwood Legal stands out for its 'excellent response times' and 'business acumen' alongside its 'pragmatic and practical' advice.

Legal 500

Boutique employment law firm Collingwood Legal is recognised for its 'expertise in dealing with complex, high-end disputes'.

Legal 500

Collingwood Legal have worked closely with the College on a number of key projects. The Collingwood Legal team have consistently provided valuable advice and I would highly recommend their personable and candid approach.

Principal at Leading FE College

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Specialist employment law firm that houses an experienced team of employment experts.

Chambers and Partners 2022