For almost 100 years, Thompsons Solicitors has stood shoulder to shoulder with the trade union movement, working with unions for improved workers’ rights, campaigning for justice and equality.

As the UK’s leading trade union solicitors, our specialist teams have, since 1921, supported millions of trade union members, and their families, providing free legal advice when they have suffered injuries or injustice. We are proud that throughout our history, we have only ever acted on behalf of the injured or mistreated – never for employers and never for insurance companies. In 2018 alone, we secured over £160 million in compensation for more than 9,890 trade union members.

In recognition of the Trades Union Congress’ (TUC) 150th anniversary, Thompsons Solicitors is celebrating its commitment to the trade union movement and the value and significance that trade unions have had in the past and continue to have today.


Reasons for joining a trade union

Less likely to be injured at work;

More likely to increase your pay as a result of collective bargaining;

Entitled to access expert legal services, free of charge;

Going to have someone fighting for your workplace rights during Brexit;

Part of a movement dedicated to equality in the workplace, and society at large.

The influence of trade unions on business has held negligent employers to account and driven up standards for all workers; we are proud to have been part of this journey since 1921. Some of our successes in leading landmark cases include winning the first asbestos-related disease case in 1972 in the House of Lords and securing more in average compensation than any other law firm for miners and their families in claims to the VWF and CBE schemes in the 2000s.


Standing with unions

Day to day, we work with unions to deliver a comprehensive package of legal services. As union solicitors, we help thousands of people across the country to make compensation claims for accidents at or away from work, including on the roads.

I’m so relieved to have had union support and Thompsons by my side. The interim payments have paid for aids and equipment, as well as adaptations to my home, which have helped make my life easier and which I certainly wouldn’t have been able to pay for on my own.

Lee, Thompsons' serious injury client

Praise from the Legal 500

"Its union lawyer background and commitment to protecting and promoting the rights of workers is Thompsons' unique selling point, tried and tested over the decades."

"Thompsons are responsible for expanding the frontiers of labour law and are the go-to firm for virtually all of the trade unions."


Our trade union solicitors work in specialist teams, such as for serious injury, industrial and asbestos disease claims. Our work-related legal advice teams are experts in employment matters, including unfair dismissal, discrimination and cases relating to transfer of undertaking and collective redundancies (TUPE). What’s more, our years of work in these fields means we have strong links with support and rehabilitation services through charities and self-help groups.

We also provide strategic advice to trade unions on industrial disputes, and our solicitors can be found at union rallies and events up and down the country - we're proud to be an active part of the trade union movement. 

Our comprehensive services are provided to union members, and their families, free of charge, whether the claim is successful or not. This has meant the union members who entrusted their legal cases with us – via their union legal schemes - have kept 100 per cent of the compensation they deserve. But don’t just take our word for it – visit our clients page to read testimonials from individuals who have turned to their union for legal support.

Throughout the history of the trade union movement, we have sought to play our part, working in partnership with unions to win landmark cases, advancing workers’ rights and protections. Thompsons Solicitors will continue to stand with the unions, helping to fight for the rights of workers.


To ensure you and your family are protected if you suffer an accident at work, on the roads or even on holiday, find out more about joining a trade union.

The work so far

  • 1921

    William Henry 'Harry' Thompson founds Thompsons Solicitors, acts for Poplar Councillors in a challenge against their council in the poorest part of London paying the same tax as the richest.

  • 1923

    The introduction of the Workmen's Compensation Act enables workers to claim personal injury compensation for the first time. 

  • 1928

    The Equal Franchise Act grants equal voting rights to men and women. 

  • 1934

    William Henry Thompson pitches in on behalf of an organiser of an unemployed workers' movement in Elias va  Pasmore and establishes that a lawful arrest doesn't justify removing documents without lawful authority.

  • 1937

    Thompsons Solicitors and the trade unions fight, and win, Wilsons and Clyde Coal Ltd v English, which establishes the concept of employer's liability. 

  • 1956

    The UK's first industrial disease case is won by Thompsons Solicitors. 

  • 1964

    Represented Barnard in Rookes v Barnard - a leading case on punitive damages and a turning point in judicial activism in trade unions.

  • 1970

    The Equal Pay Act 1970 is the first piece of legislation to enshrine the right to equal pay for equal work. The Equal Pay Act 1970 was amended in 1986 to include equal pay for work of equal value.

  • 1972

    Thompsons Solicitors brings about the first ever successful asbestos-related disease case in the House of Lords.

  • 1974

    Thompsons Solicitors involved in helping to draft the Health and Safety at Work Act, which means approximately eight million employees are legally protected at work for the first time. 

  • 1983

    Thompsons handles the first test case on industrial deafness, leading to the National Deafness Scheme, securing compensation for those who have lost hearing due to work.

  • 1986

    Thompsons Solicitors instrumental in establishing the principle of latent damage, which is passed into the law.

  • 1990

    Thompsons Solicitors win first test cases for welders' lung.

  • 1992

    The introduction of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, known as the six-pack, which implements a series of European health and safety orders. These have become vital for the protection of UK workers and the enforcement of their safety at work.

  • 1995

    Thompsons win landmark TUPE case to ensure it applies to all public sector workers.

  • 2009

    Stringer v HMRC ensures entitlement to annual leave pay while absent from work for long periods of time.

  • 2012

    British Airways v Williams, Thompsons Solicitors ensures the right to proper holiday pay for all money earned. 

  • 2016

    Thompsons Solicitors secures victory against UK construction companies in a blacklisting case, recovering millions of pounds for hundreds of workers.

  • 2018

    Thompsons wins landmark case which protects those suffering from cancer from being unfairly dismissed by their employer.

  • 2019

    Court of Appeal confirms Thompsons High Court win that UK government was in breach of EU law by failing to ensure that those injured in a road accident on private land were covered by insurance.