Michael Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Civil Law Degree (“BCL”) from University College Dublin. He qualified as a solicitor in 1987 and has been practising exclusively in the area of employment law since then.
At the 2012 inaugural National Irish Bank Irish Law Awards “commending excellence within Ireland's legal sector” which were launched by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, Michael was named as Employment Lawyer of the Year.
Legal 500 named Michael as one of Ireland’s top 2 employment lawyers, in their 2012 rankings. Chambers and Partners, who described ByrneWallace as “a centre of excellence for employment law”, also placed Michael at the top (“Band 1”) of Ireland’s employment lawyers in their 2012 rankings, describing him as “accomplished and experienced”, a lawyer who “clearly explains all the possible consequences and doesn't just quote the book but outlines how things will play out”.
Michael is Chairman of the Irish Law Society’s Employment and Equality Committee.
Michael is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Employment Law Association of Ireland.
Michael is former Secretary of the Irish Society for Labour Law.
Michael is Co-author of the Law Society’s Employment Law Manual (published by Oxford University Press 2011). He lectures widely on employment law issues and is a regular speaker on the Law Society’s Continuing Legal Education programme. He chaired the Society’s Employment Law Update 2011 and 2012.
Specialist Knowledge and Expertise/Experience
Michael has 25 years experience advising exclusively on contentious and non-contentious employment matters. He advises on all aspects of the employment relationship including:
- Legal aspects of recruitment;
- Employment contracts and staff handbooks;
- Issues arising by reference to the broad umbrella of employment legislation;
- Equality issues - As far back as 1998, Michael represented the Claimant in the first “age” case under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, John Kerrigan v Peter Owens Advertising and Marketing Ltd (see Dismissal Law in Ireland by Mary Redmond [Second Edition] at p.286);
- Employment Contracts and litigation pertaining to contractual issues - In the mid-1990s, Michael represented the Plaintiff in what is still the leading case on breach of an employment contract/wrongful dismissal, Gerald Lyons v M.F. Kent & Co. (International) Ltd (in liquidation) which is reported at (1996) ELR 103;
- Employment Injunctions - Michael was to the fore in the development of the employment injunction. In 1994, he was involved in the first of the “modern” injunction cases, Terence Shortt v Data Packaging Ltd which is reported at  ELR 251;
- Stress/Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment - Michael represented the Claimants in the first case involving vicarious liability of employers under employment equality legislation, which gave rise to a 2002 Labour Court Recommendation in A Boys Secondary School v Two Female Teachers (Determination No. DEE 021);
- Disciplinary and grievance policies and procedures;
- Business sales/acquisitions and outsourcing arrangements - ByrneWallace partner, Gary Byrne, is the author of Ireland's leading text on this topic and Michael has worked in this area over many years. By way of pertinent examples only - Michael twice advised a multinational communications company on the Irish ramifications of the sales of two separate parts of its global business. He advised a multinational car manufacturer on entering the Irish market;
- Restructuring/Redundancies: Against the backdrop of the economic downturn, Michael has advised on numerous major restructurings, many involving significant numbers of redundancies;
- Trades Disputes: Michael has acted in a number of major trade disputes. He represented the Plaintiff in the leading High Court case on the limitation of protections which are afforded to trades unions under the Industrial Relations Acts - Daru Blocklaying Ltd and Another v Building and Allied Trades Union and Others which is reported at (2003) 14 E.L.R. 244, while members of Michael’s team represented Ryanair in the definitive Supreme Court case on Labour Court procedures, Ryanair Limited v Labour Court and Another which is reported at (2007) 18 E.L.R. 244);
- Pay Cuts: Over the past 5 years, Michael has advised a whole range of clients on wage cuts and other cost savings measures, having regard for contractual arrangements, the Payment of Wages Act, 1991 and industrial relations considerations;
- Registered Employment Agreements – Michael has lectured widely on these Agreements. He also advised on Employment Regulation Orders over many years but those Orders are now of no significance, in the light of the Judgement of the High Court which was delivered in the case of John Grace Fried Chicken Limited and Others v The Catering Joint Labour Committee and Others on 7th July 2011.
- Bachelor of Civil Law, University College Dublin,1982
- Qualified Solicitor, Law Society of Ireland,1987
- Dublin Solicitors Bar Association
- Law Society of Ireland
- Chairman of the Law Society’s Employment and Equality Committee
- Member of the Executive Committee of the Employment Law Association of Ireland
- former Secretary of the Irish Society for Labour Law
Team head Michael Kennedy is known for his ‘strong experience of industrial disputes’; some of his case highlights included advising on an employment injunction, a whistleblowing matter and a boardroom dispute. - Legal 500 2019
Ranked by Chambers & Partners Europe 2019 as a Tier 1 Lawyer. - Chambers Europe 2019
Head of department Michael Kennedy is widely revered by the market. He handles highly sensitive employment mandates relating to terminations, injunction applications, unfair dismissals and whistle-blowing cases. - Chambers Europe 2019
Clients describe him as "very strong at industrial relations and very experienced."- Chambers Europe 2019
Clients praise Michael Kennedy's vast expertise and specifically note his dispute resolution skills, with one describing him as "an employment lawyer with unparalleled experience of industrial disputes," and another appreciating that he "gives practical steps and knows how to deal with staff on the ground." - Chambers Europe, 2018
Practice head Michael Kennedy has ‘unparalleled experience of industrial disputes’. - Legal 500, 2018
Michael Kennedy is ranked as a Leading Individual by Legal 500, 2018
According to sources, Michael Kennedy "has been in employment law a long time and is very well-regarded." He has a strong reputation in equality matters, unfair dismissals and industrial relations. His recent work has involved the termination of senior executives. Clients find him easy to talk to, with one interviewee describing him as "very friendly, consultative and engaging." - Chambers Europe, 2017
Michael Kennedy is ranked as a Leading Individual by Legal 500, 2017
Michael Kennedy is a tremendously experienced partner who wins accolades for his success in employment litigation, and handles a range of complex advisory matters. Clients report: "He speaks our language, even when dealing with complicated issues." His past work has included wrongful dismissal, whistle-blowing and trade union disputes. - Chambers Europe, 2016
Department head Michael Kennedy provides ‘value-added advice grounded in practical solutions’, - Legal 500, 2015
Practice head Michael Kennedy "gets the balance right between the client's desired outcome and the parameters of the law. He deals with some extremely difficult and tricky situations," according to interviewees. He is a thoroughly experienced adviser in the area, with a notable practice in trade disputes. - Chambers & Partners, 2015
Michael Kennedy "A brilliant employment lawyer," Michael Kennedy is highly regarded by peers and clients for his expertise in this field. - Chambers & Partners 2014
Michael Kennedy has ‘an outstanding grasp of legal issues and commercial consequences’. - Legal 500, 2014
Michael Kennedy ‘knows the players, gives sound, practical advice and achieves results’. - Legal 500, 2013
The "accomplished and experienced" Michael Kennedy has particular experience advising on industrial relations and is valued by clients, who say:" he clearly explained all the possible consequences and doesn't just quote the book but outlined how things will play out". - Chambers & Partners 2012
The highly rated Michael Kennedy head the team, which advises the law society of Ireland on all employment matters. Intel and AIB are also key clients. - Legal 500, 2012
Department head Michael Kennedy is a highly regarded employment specialist. He has recently advised a number of companies on workforce reorganisations and employee disputes. - Chambers & Partners 2011