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Silk: 2020 | Call: 2005
John Mehrzad QC


Exceptionally at less than 15 years’ call, John Mehrzad was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

John practises in business protection and sports law, with a specialist background in employment and commercial law. His instructions often involve overlapping areas of law, concurrent jurisdictions and multiple forum both domestic and international.

In terms of business protection law, John is labelled the “go-to barrister for business protection work and any employment dispute with a High Court angle” who is “impeccable and technically excellent” (Legal 500, 2019) being “extremely user-friendly and spectacularly good” who “combines an expert grasp of the law with a real understanding of the business context.” (Chambers & Partners, 2020)

He is instructed in High Court interim injunction applications and trials concerning contractual obligations, including restrictive covenants, confidential information, director, shareholder and fiduciary duties and conspiracy claims. With a former career in finance, John seeks to understand the commercial aims of businesses or senior executives/employees/shareholders before advising strategically.

In terms of sports law, John was the sole number 1 ranked junior barrister across all legal directories. Prophetically, he was noted as “a leader in the field of sports law and an obvious future silk” (Legal 500, 2019). A recent appeal decision also describes him as “regarded as a star of the sports law Bar”. His sports law practice focuses, on the one hand, on financial disputes, including claims between associations, clubs, managers, players and intermediaries/agents, and, on the other hand, regulatory issues, including disciplinaries, equalities and discrimination allegations, selection disputes, classification challenges and doping allegations. He is also pre-eminent in conducting independent reviews in sport; he was the only lawyer on the cultural review of British Cycling (2016-17), chaired the governance review of the British Equestrian Federation (2017-18) and chaired on a sole basis the UK Athletics’ review of its handling of allegations concerning Alberto Salazar (2019-20). John is regularly appointed FA Rule K or EFL arbitrator (often on a sole basis), is an FA Discipline independent chairman, panellist at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (in English and French) and for Sport Resolutions. He was a selected advocate for the London 2012 Olympics/Paralympics and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. He is currently a legal mentor to the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics.

John founded and oversees Littleton’s ‘Inspire Sports Law Initiative’, which has and continues to offer work experience and mentoring to athletes transitioning away from sport and those from under-represented backgrounds at the Bar.



    Business Protection Law

John makes interim applications, final appearances and attends mediations on the following commercial issues: shareholder disputes including unfair prejudice petitions or derivative actions; partnership disputes within LLP and Partnership Act contexts; bonus/commission claims; restrictive covenants; fiduciary duties; confidential information; penalty or liquidated damages clauses/claw-backs; agency agreements; freezing or search orders.

Notable cases include:

  • Wolseley v. Alsem & Ors (QBD) 2018-2020 (Deputy Master Bard/Senior Master Fontaine/Master McCloud/Lavender J.): a series of successful applications for confidentiality ring order, inspection, specific disclosure and in relation to contempt of court.
  • Medinet Bidco Ltd. v. Mason (QBD) 2018 (Jay J. and Jason Coppell QC sitting as Judge of the High Court): without notice and return date applications for supervised preservation, delivery up, affidavit and imaging injunctions with interim costs awarded.
  • Middlesbrough FC v. Birmingham FC & Ors. (QBD) 2018 (Warby J.) Team move, speedy trial application. Co-responded with Adam Solomon QC.
  • Bourne Rail & Ors. v. Ashton & Ors. [2018] EWHC 73 (QB) (HHJ Forster QC sitting as Judge of the High Court) Successfully acted for corporate defendants in resisting claims of conspiracy/common design, breach of confidence and inducement to breach contract.
  • Brown & Ors. v. Neon Management [2019] IRLR 30; [2017] EWHC 2137 (QB) (Choudhury J.) Bonus, restrictive covenants, breach of contract claim. Led by Adam Solomon QC.
  • WRG v Sawyer & Ors. (QBD) 2017: Springboard relief, conspiracy, confidential information, restrictive covenant, breach of contract injunction, damages claim.
  • British Transport Police Authority v. Hill & Ors. (QBD) 2017: Confidential information delivery up/deletion and restraint on the use of materials in concurrent proceedings injunctions.
  • Kintetsu v. Jeffery & Ors. (QBD) 2016: Conspiracy, confidential information, restrictive covenant, breach of contract, injunction, damages claim. Led by Gavin Mansfield QC. 
  • Smith v. Huertas [2015] All ER (D) 221 (Dec) (Cooke J.): Jurisdiction of Commercial Court to enforce a judgment by French courts. Led by Charles Samek QC.
  • Elcom Funding Solutions Ltd. & Ors. v. Crossflow Payment Solutions Trading Ltd. (QBD) 2015 (Sweeney J.): Delivery up/deletion and affidavit injunction. 
  • HMA (Holdings) Ltd. & Ors. v. IDL Plastics Ltd. & Ors. (QBD) 2015 (Supperstone J. & HHJ Gore QC): Jurisdiction of High Court to injunct party in New Zealand.
  • Ideal Industries Ltd. v. Harrison (QBD) 2015: Non competition injunction. Led by Gavin Mansfield QC.
  • Hamell Communications Ltd. v. Edmunds (QBD) 2015 (Edis J. & Patterson J.): Confidential information injunction.
  • Mostell Ltd & Or. v. Camilleri & Costello & J Sykes & Sons (Manchester) Ltd (QBD) 2015 (Dingemans J.): Non-competition/non-solicitation/non-deal/delivery up/deletion of confidential information/affidavit injunction.
  • Randstad Ltd. v. Bridge & Bridge Education & Training Ltd. (QBD) 2015 (Green J.): Non-solicitation/non-deal/delivery up/deletion of confidential information/affidavit injunction.
  • Berry Recruitment Ltd. v. Hall & Career Caterer Ltd. (QBD) 2015 (Dove J.): Non-competition/non-solicitation/non-deal/deliver up/deletion of confidential information injunction. 
  • Green & Hillersden Estates Ltd. v. Heim (QBD) 2014 (Lewis J.): Delivery up/freezing order injunction.
  • Equity Housing Group v. King (Ch.D.) 2014 (HHJ Hodge QC): Delivery up/deletion/preservation/affidavit injunction.
  • Silverson Machines Ltd v. Aplin & Ors. (QBD) 2014 (Mitting J.): Freezing order injunction.
  • Seaco & Ors. v. Buss Capital & Ors. (QBD) 2012: Conspiracy, confidential information, restrictive covenant, breach of contract, injunction claim. Led by Paul Goulding QC and Damian Brown QC.
  • Rubicon LLP & Ors. v. Attias & Ors. (Ch.D) 2012 (Sales J.): Conspiracy, confidential information, restrictive covenant, breach of contract/fiduciary duty claim involving 1.2bn in hedge funds redemptions. Led by Chris Quinn.
  • Malik v. Golpeykar & Harrington (Ch.D) 2011 (HHJ Walden-Smith): Whether there was a partnership in law.
  • Humphreys v. Norilsk Nickel International (UK) Ltd. [2010] IRLR 976; [2010] EWHC 1867 (QB) (HHJ Seymour QC): Contractual bonus claim.
  • K2 Partnership Solutions Ltd v. Nina Strauss & Or. (QBD) 2010 (Tugenhat J.): Non-solicit/non-compete injunction.

    Sports Law

John is Head of Littleton’s Sports Law Group, which he formed in 2012.  He is an independent FA Rule K arbitrator (often as sole arbitrator); an independent chairman on the FA chairman's anti-discrimination panel; on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (in English and French) as well as Sport Resolutions' pro bono panels; was a selected advocate to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games as well as the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games for ad hoc sittings of CAS; was commissioned by UK Sport and British Cycling as the only legally qualified panel-member on the first-ever independent review into the climate and culture of an Olympic and Paralympic world class programme, namely that of British Cycling; and was chair of the independent review into the British Equestrian Federation. In both reviews, John drafted the respective reports as approved by his fellow panel members, the recommendations of which were then accepted in full by all relevant parties. Those reviews and recommendations form a blueprint for positive culture and good governance within publicly-funded sport. He also represents parties in all sporting jurisdictions both nationally and abroad, including the FA, Premier League, RFU, UEFA, FIFA and CAS. 

John also launched Littleton's 'Inspire Sports Law' initiative to offer work experience and mentoring to those from minority backgrounds and athletes transitioning away from sport to encourage greater diversity at the Bar and provide ongoing pastoral care for sports people.

Some of his Sports Law cases include:

  • Antonio Conte v. Chelsea FC: successful claims for breach of contract and unfair dismissal (led by Paul Gilroy QC)
  • Lecoeur v. Confédération Européene de Volleyball (CAS/2019/A/6284): successful claim for annulment of decision not to appoint referee since he was alleged unfit.
  • EFL Player Related Disputes Commission arbitration about appeal against player’s summary termination.
  • FIFA Dispute Resolution Committee case about entitlements arising from incomplete player transfer.
  • EFL Arbitration about alleged 'buy-out' clause.
  • FA Arbitration about alleged breach of contract and inducement to breach, and cross-jurisdictional issues.
  • EFL Appeals Committee about jurisdiction of the EFL Player Related Disputes Commission.
  • EFL Player Related Disputes Commission arbitration about the registration and scholarship offer to an academy player, and the entitlement of compensation to a football club. 
  • Middlesbrough FC v. Birmingham FC & Ors. (QBD) 2018 (Warby J.) Team move, speedy trial application. Co-responded with Adam Solomon QC.
  • EFL Disciplinary Commission arbitration about a disciplinary sanction to a former officer of a football club.
  • Chair of FA Arbitration on issue of non-payment related to oversees transfer and the application of foreign law principles. 
  • FA Arbitration on jurisdiction of Rule K to determine dispute concerning overseas transfer.
  • Chair of Independent Review into allegations and the leadership of the British Equestrian Federation (commissioned by UK Sport, the BEF, Sport England and administered by Sport Resolutions).
  • CAS case on termination for just cause, liquidated damages and compensation mitigation principles, and sporting sanctions (leading Ashley Cukier).
  • FA Arbitration on jurisdiction of Rule K where a representation contact is signed and alleged breach occurs overseas.
  • Sidibe v. CSKA Sofia FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber claim for non-payment of wages and bonuses.
  • RFU v. Fenton-Wells reduced RFU disciplinary sanction for making contact with the eye or eye area.
  • Panel Member of Independent Review into Culture and Climate at British Cycling (commissioned by UK Sport, British Cycling and administered by Sport Resolutions).
  • Non-selection appeal, resulting in the athlete being re-selected by governing body to pre-Rio 2016 World Championships (via Sport Resolutions and the British Athletes Commission).
  • FA Arbitration about non-payments by player under representation contract. 
  • Bristol Rugby v. Borthwick v RFU
  • Injunction application to prevent RFU poaching club’s coach (led by David Reade QC).FA Arbitration on whether Rule K applies to a representation contract between a player agent and an overseas player.
  • CAS case on non-payments to a football agent by Middle Eastern club following player transfer.
  • UK Anti-Doping v. Bilton Mitigation and sanction for doping offence under overlapping 2009 and 2015 WADA Codes.
  • FA Arbitration on when a replay should be ordered if club fields an ineligible player.
  • Advice on liquidated damages clause in Premier League manager's contract.
  • FA Arbitration on breach of representation agreement and fiduciary duties.
  • FIFA & CAS cases on agent's commission, jurisdiction clauses, non-payments to player, "just cause" and compensation.
  • FA Appeal about interpretation of FA Rules and Regulations concerning relegation.
  • Classification and non-selection appeals by Paralympic champion and to Sochi Winter Games respectively (via Sports Resolutions).
  • Take-over of Leeds United.
  • Advice on George North's contract with Northampton Saints (led by Damian Brown QC).
  • High Court claim over FA Cup Final tickets (led by Andrew Clarke QC).
  • Premier League Managers Arbitration about termination payment (led by Damian Brown QC).
  • Jones v. Cardiff City Claim for unpaid salary and bonuses (led by Damian Brown QC).
  • Cross-border image rights dispute (led by David Reade QC).
  • Allardyce v. Blackburn Rovers & Kean Defamation action by Sam Allardyce. 
  • Slough v. Milton Keynes RUFC; RFU v. Bristol RFC RFU disciplinaries into race and biting allegations respectively.


    Employment Law

John appears in multi-day Full Hearings, Preliminary Hearings as well as before the EAT and the Court of Appeal, representing both claimants and respondents in cases involving all aspects of employment law, including unfair dismissal; breach of contract/unauthorised deduction of wages; all forms of discrimination; "whistleblowing”; TUPE; and jurisdictional issues/practice and procedure. He has a particular expertise in City-related disputes with past cases involving Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and other financial institutions or funds.

Some of his Employment Law cases include: 

  • United First Partners Research v. Carreras [2018] EWCA Civ 322 (Underhill, Bean, Asplin LJJ): Proper approach to identification of a PCP and the reason for resignation. Upholding EAT decision below.
  • Carreras v. United First Partners Research UKEAT/0266/15/RN (HHJ Eady QC): Proper approach to identification of a PCP, the reason for resignation and the procedure for reply submissions. 
  • British Transport Police v. Hill & Ors. UKEAT/0445/15/BA (Singh J.): Amendment of Public Interest Disclosure Claim.
  • Game Retail Ltd. v. Laws UKEAT/0188/14/DA (HHJ Eady QC): Social media misconduct.
  • Charlesworth v. Amey Plc & Ors. UKEATPA/0326/13/MC (HHJ Peter Clarke): Tripartite employment status.
  • Tavistock School & Ors. v. Richards & Ors. UKEAT/0244/13/SM (HHJ Peter Clarke): Timing of assessment of redundancy dismissal and construction of employment contract.
  • Stuart v. London City Airport Ltd. UKEATPA/1651/11/MAA (Cox. J.): Whether misconduct investigation into alleged criminal act requires heightened level of scrutiny.
  • Blazevic v. Hayashibara International Inc. & Ors. UKEATPA/0738/11/CEA (Langstaff J, President): Whether a strike out and costs order should have been made.
  • Odukwe v. Partners of Hoare Lea Consulting Engineers UKEAT/0547/10/SM (Underhill J., President): Statutory dispute resolution procedures and time limits.
  • Bullimore v. Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors & Ors. [2011] IRLR 18 (Underhill J., President): Advice on whether a reference can amount to an act of victimisation.
  • Parsons v. Burworth Estates (a firm) UKEAT/0547/08/MAA (Underhill J., President): Statutory grievance procedures.

    Arbitration and Mediation

John is experienced in arbitration (both as arbitrator and Counsel) in the sports law and commercial law sphere. In terms of sports law, he has been appointed an FA Rule K Arbitrator on several occasions on a sole basis as well as on a panel, determining contractual disputes usually involving money claims. He has also represented numerous clients (players, agents, clubs) as Counsel (usually on an unled basis and frequently against QCs) in FA arbitrations and also before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In terms of commercial law, prior to pupillage, John worked in the international arbitration department at Gide Loyrette Nouel, Paris, on very high-value arbitrations typically before the ICC.

John has also been appointed mediator and represented clients in mediations usually involving cross-over commercial law and employment law issues, often concerning shareholder’s, employee’s and director’s rights.


  • Chair of Independent Review into allegations and leadership of the British Equestrian Federation (commissioned by UK Sport, the BEF, Sport England and administered by Sport Resolutions) (2017-2018).
  • Panel Member of Independent Review into Culture and Climate at British Cycling (commissioned by UK Sport, British Cycling and administered by Sport Resolutions) (2016 - 2017).
  • Board Director of the British Association of Sport and Law (2015-2018). 
  • Member of the FA Chairman's anti-discrimination panel of independent chairman, hearing football disciplinary cases concerning acts of discrimination (2014 to date).
  • Nominated as FA Rule K arbitrator on several occasions (2012 to date).
  • Member of pro bono advocates panel for Sports Resolutions, the independent domestic sports appeals/arbitration service (2012 to date).
  • Head of Littleton’s Sports Law Group (2012 to date).
  • Selected by the Law Society of Scotland, Faculty of Advocates and the Management Committee of Sport Resolution as advocate to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (2014).
  • Selected by the Bar Council, Law Society and British Association of Sport and Law as advocate to the London Olympics and Paralympic Games (2012).
  • Elected to management committee of Littleton (2012 - 2014).
  • Member of Equality and Human Rights Commission panel of barristers (2011 - 2015).
  • Inner Temple GDL and BPTC Scholarships Panellist (2016 to date).

    Articles and Publications

  • “Who has jurisdiction over International Football Transfer Disputes”, LawInSport.com, 2 September 2017
  • "The selection of athletes and the grounds for challenges”, World Sport Law Report, January 2016 (co-authored with Edward Wheen, Partner, Hewitson Moorhead LLP)
  • "Moral Damages for Terminating a Football Player’s Contract”, LawInSport.com, 20 August 2015
  •  "’Wild West’ or ‘Brave New World’: The new FIFA and FA Intermediaries Regulations”, LawInSport.com, 27 March 2015
  • "Match-Fixing, Betting and Corruption”, Sports Arbitration Handbook 2015-2016, Sport Resolution, March 2015
  • "New Guidance on How Clubs Should Treat Social Media Misconduct by Footballers”, LawInSport.com, 3 February 2015
  • "Ched Evans: Release, Retribution and Rehabilitation”, LawInSport.com, 28 November 2014
  • "Player Contracts: FIFA Regulations on Working With Intermediaries: analysis”, World Sports Law Report, November 2014
  • "Restraint of Trade in Player Contracts”, LawInSport.com, 3 September 2014
  • "Why Suarez’s CAS Appeal may succeed”, LawInSport.com, 8 August 2014
  • "Could Liverpool sack Suarez?”, LawInSport.com, 23 June 2014
  • "David Moyes’ Sacking and Legal Rights”, LawInSport.com, 22 April 2014
  • "State Intervention into Football”, LawInSport.com, 22 April 2014
  • "The Post-DJ Campbell World of Football Governance”, LawInSport.com, 11 December 2013
  • "Age and Disability issues in Playing Contracts”, World Sports Law Report, January 2013
  • "Fixed Term Contracts in Sport”, World Sports Law Report, November 2012
  • "A study of Eurosceptic Groups 1990-97”, The European Journal, August, September and October issues 2006
  • "A good pint by way of Dickens, Disney and the Dictionary”, The Times, Law section, 10 June 2006
  • "The Schuman Plan”, The European Journal, March/April 2006
  • "Let’s Raise a Glass to Old Traditions”, The Times, Law section, 11 October 2005
  • "A Supreme Court for the UK; A Flawed Necessity”, BPP Obiter, May 2004


  • "Are Agents a Neccessity?", LawInSport Conference, 23 May 2019
  • Arbitrations and Independent Reviews, Sport Resolutions seminar, 17 January 2019
  • 'State of Play', Brabners, 30 November 2018
  • Interim Injunctive Relief, Brabners and DWF, 12 November 2018
  • "Is the current international dispute resolution procedure in sport fit for purpose?", LawInSport conference, 13 September 2018
  • Independent Reviews in Sport, Sport Resolutions seminar, 6 September 2018
  • Legal Perspective on Investigations in Sport, Charles Russell Speechlys, 3 September 2018
  • Independent Reviews in Sport, Brabners, 22 March 2018
  • Business Protection, Addleshaw Goddard, 8 November 2017
  • Conversation with Annamarie Phelps CBE about Cycling Independent Review, British Association of Sport & Law Conference, 19 October 2017
  • Athlete Development, LawInSport conference, 7 September 2017
  • Independent Reviews in Sport, Farrer & Co., 4 September 2017
  • Interim Injunctions, Addleshaw Goddard, 18 January 2017
  • Hyperandrogenism, Sport Resolutions Seminar, 8 December 2016
  • Interim Injunctive Relief, Pennington Manches, 13 July 2016
  • Talent Selection - Are the best chosen?, Sport Resolutions Annual Conference, 5 May 2016 
  • Equalities and Discrimination in Sport, University of Gloucestershire Think Tank, 6 April 2016
  • Selection Challenges, Sport Resolutions Seminar, 11 February 2016
  • Fooball Mis-selling, Littleton Sports Law Seminar, 10 February 2016
  • Total Law: overlapping commercial, employment and sports law issues, Sheridans, 30 September 2015
  • Whistleblowing: dealing with troublemakers and protecting genuine whistleblowers, Simons Muirhead & Burton, 14 July 2015
  • Employment Law in Sport, Couchmans, 26 May 2015
  • Off-the-Field Misconduct by Players, IBC Sports Law Conference, 28 April 2015
  • New FIFA Intermediaries Regulations and Future Agents Disputes, Wasserman Media Group, 18 March 2015
  • Social Media Misconduct, Charles Russell Speechleys, 12 March 2015
  • Twitter misuse in the workplace, Doyle Clayton, 11 March 2015
  • Regulating Agents in Sport, LawInSport Conference, 26 February 2015
  • Social Media Misconduct, Lewis Silkin, 10 February 2015
  • Challenging Sports Bodies’ Decisions, MSc Management and Sport, Birkbeck, University of London, 14 January 2015 
  • Recent Developments in Restrictive Covenants, Clintons, 15 December 2014 
  • Equality and Discrimination Challenges in Sports, Sports Resolutions seminar, 5 November 2014
  • The Magic of Player Contract Termination, World Sports Law Report Player Contracts conference, 29-30 October 2014
  • Funding and Litigating Shareholder Disputes, Littleton Manchester Commercial Seminar, 1 October 2014
  • Football Agents Disputes, Fladgate, 18 September 2014
  • Player Contracts: Formation to Termination, Stephenson Harwood, 22 May 2014
  • Unfair Prejudice, Fladgate, 18 March 2014
  • Athlete Selection Challenges, Harbotte & Lewis, 17 March 2014
  • Shareholder and Member Disputes, Doyle Clayton, 6 February 2014
  • TUPE/Administration, Stephenson Harwood, 22 January 2014
  • Football Contract Termination, Clarke Willmott, 21 January 2014
  • Interpreting Commercial and Employment Contracts, Burgess Salmon, 21 January 2014
  • Sporting Just Cause, Charles Russell Sports Group, 30 October 2013
  • Social Media at Work, MBL Webinar, 14 October 2013
  • The Right to Play, World Sports Law Report Player Contracts Conference, 11 July 2013
  • Restraint of Trade in Sport, Brabners and Pinsent Mason, 19 March 2013
  • Non-solicitation and non-dealing, Charles Russell Employment Group, 29 November 2012

    Inspire Sports Law

As Head of Littleton’s Sports Law Group, John Mehrzad launched the The Inspire Sports Law initiative. It is designed to support athletes transitioning away from high-performance sport and those from less fortunate and well-represented socio-economic backgrounds to develop a career in the law. This initiative links his work within the context of ‘duty of care’ issues in sport, and as a mentor and interviewer for aspiring law students and barristers.