• Extremely diligent and passionate about his work.

    Chambers 2020

  • Not just a highly technical lawyer but also a good strategist

    Chambers 2020

  • Recognised as a Key Lawyer

    Legal 500 2020

  • A name to note for boardroom disputes

    Legal 500 2020

  • William is "straightforward, pragmatic and knowledgeable while being very to the point and direct on what needs to be done"

    Chambers 2019

  • The 'excellent' William Garnett is the key name for senior executive work and boardroom disputes.

    Legal 500 2018

  • "Excellent client focus, professional availability and technical knowledge"

    Chambers 2018

  • Garnett ‘strikes the right balance between advocacy and outstanding tactical prowess’.

    Legal 500 2017

  • William is "extremely strong technically, commercially astute and fiercely practical"

    Chambers UK 2017

  • "If it hadn't been for your consistent support and intervention I would have been completely lost"

    Client feedback

  • "Your endurance and skill turned a difficult situation around"

    Client feedback

  • "None of the lawyers I have dealt with matched your speed, subtlety and empathy"

    Client feedback

  • His "crystal-clear" thinking on employment issues is highly praised.

    Chambers UK 2016

  • "An excellent lawyer and a very good negotiator."

    Chambers UK 2016


I founded the successful Employment and Discrimination department (which is ranked highly in both Legal 500 and Chambers directories). The team acts for employers and senior executives.


I am ranked as a leading individual in respect of employment law, by national directories. My practice spans the widest range of clientele from senior individuals in industry and the city to professional partnerships and corporates, as well as household name charities. My work encompasses negotiation of contractual terms, whistleblower claims, restrictive covenants, employment related shareholder/boardroom disputes, breach of contract, and dismissals and the widest range of discrimination disputes. I am always focused on a pragmatic resolution of disputes.

I sit as an international judge (Chair of the Administrative Review Committee for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development since July 2016. This committee reviews and adjudicates upon disputes across the 56 countries in which EBRD works, applying International Administrative law).

  • I advised the global chief executive of an international investment bank on the terms of his departure
  • I advised on team moves in the City, focusing on the restrictive covenants and deferred remuneration
  • I advised on a boardroom disputes and associated shareholder issues arising from the removal of directors, and the forfeiture of a shareholding
  • I regularly advise individuals on post-termination restrictions and negotiating departures, arrivals and team moves
  • I advise on FCA regulatory matters concerning the termination of senior staff
  • I’ve advised a significant number of FE colleges across the country on restructures, redundancies and other ways of achieving efficiencies
  • I have successfully pursued substantial whistle-blowing litigation on behalf of several claimants
  • I successfully defended a commercial employer in respect of claims of unfair dismissal, breach of contract and sex discrimination
  • I advised a professional services firm on the enforcement of restrictive covenants, and the misuse of client information
  • I advised members of an LLP on the terms of their agreement and negotiating their departure

Qualifications and career

  • BSc (Hons) Law, 1983
  • Admitted as a solicitor, 1986
  • Partner at Bates Wells, 1991
  • Head of Department 1987-2017
  • Frequent lecturer at national conferences on employment law
  • Chair Administrative Review Committee EBRD 2016-

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Non-Executive Director, Centor Insurance & Risk Management Limited
  • Chair of UKSA (youth development sailing charity Cowes Isle of Wight) and trustee of FareShare (food distribution)
  • Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal Cruising Club, Seaview Yacht Club