Helena J. Derbyshire

Helena J. Derbyshire

Of Counsel, Labor and Employment Law
Helena Derbyshire advises employers and senior executives on all contentious and noncontentious aspects of English employment law.


Ms. Derbyshire joined Skadden’s European labour and employment practice in 2013. She was previously a partner for 10 years at a leading U.K. employment law firm. Prior to that, she worked in one of the London’s pre-eminent international employment law firms. She advises employers and senior executives on a wide range of issues, ranging from strategic advice on the labour law aspects of corporate transactions and business reorganisations, to the day-to-day employment matters faced by business managers.

Ms. Derbyshire works closely with our M&A and international labour and benefits teams and has extensive experience in:

  • advising employers on restructuring and reorganising their workforce;
  • addressing the employment issues arising in the context of the acquisition or disposal of a business, including particular experience on the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) and collective consultation requirements across Europe;
  • employment advice related to cross-border transactions and coordination of international advisers;
  • collective bargaining and industrial actions;
  • the TUPE issues arising in outsourcing transactions;
  • advising on employee retention, including drafting and negotiating senior executives’ service agreements;
  • advising on, drafting and enforcing post-termination restrictions;
  • managing executive dismissals, including the negotiation of severance terms and defending employment-related claims;
  • discrimination law, including drafting and advising on effective equality, gender pay gap and flexible working policies and practices;
  • data protection issues in relation to the personal data of U.K.-based employees; and
  • training clients on employment issues, such as the application of TUPE, GDPR, discipline and grievances, and equality.

Recent matters include:

  • coordinating employment due diligence, consultation and treatment of benefits, ensuring the smooth transition of employees on numerous cross-border acquisitions for clients, including Veritas Capital’s acquisition of Qioptic; Nikkei Inc’s acquisition of the Financial Times; Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance’s acquisition of Amlin plc; XL Inc’s takeover of Catlin Limited; CME’s takeover of NEX plc; the creation of Janus Henderson; Ball Corporation’s related takeover of Rexam plc and a divestiture to Ardagh; Vantiv’s takeover of Worldpay plc; l’Occitane’s proposed acquisition of Elemis Group and Phonenix’s acquisition of Standard Life Assurance;
  • providing employment support on various transactions and related issues (including executive retention and restriction) for private equity houses including Doughty Hanson, Hg Capital, Veritas Capital, Silver Lake Partners, Castik Capital and Montagu;
  • enforcing post-termination restrictions against traders who established a competing fund during their appointment;
  • advising an insurance company on the employment aspects of its Brexit strategy, including the restructuring of its European network and associated employee transfer dismissal and immigration issues;
  • advising Nokia Corporation on the employment aspects of the US$7.2 billion sale of its devices and services business and license of its patents to Microsoft Corporation, including advice on the pre-completion reorganisation of the devices and services business across each of its locations, coordinating and summarising advice from local lawyers;
  • advising a bank on the asset sale of a Fund Investment Group, including advice on TUPE and regulatory issues arising from the change of employer, employee retention, transfer of liability for deferred benefits and negotiating severance and re-hire terms for key employees to enable the buyer to change their terms and conditions; and
  • advising a U.S. LLC on the acquisition of a commodities trading business, including the transfer of employees and implementation of new contracts of employment for key managers in the U.K. to mirror the terms of their colleagues transferring to an LP employer in the United States.

Ms. Derbyshire has been recognised by Chambers UK as a "leading lawyer," "well regarded for her knowledge of TUPE and business reorganisations," and has been described in The Legal 500 as "just excellent," "very easy to talk to, with great responses."

Ms. Derbyshire is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association and is the Chair-Elect of the Employment Law Committee of the City of London Law Society.



  • M.A. (Law), University of Cambridge, 1990


  • England & Wales


  • Member, Employment Lawyers Association
  • Employment Law Committee of the City of London Law Society

Helena J. Derbyshire

Of Counsel, Labor and Employment Law