Rachel is a partner and has, since 2012, been a key member of the firm’s specialist Trade Union Law Group (TULG).

The TULG is a dedicated resource for trade unions in respect of institutional trade union law, Certification Officer cases, TULRCA compliance matters, collective labour law and other areas of law requiring specialist trade union expertise.

She provides expert advice and representation to senior national officials on industrial action, blacklisting, recognition, rule book issues, elections, internal investigations, and trade union governance. Rachel also advises on collective issues of strategic importance to unions, such as challenging unlawful decisions by public bodies through judicial review and using the Equality Act to challenge discriminatory policies.

Though working out of the Manchester office, since 2002 Rachel works across England and Wales.

She has acted for union members in cases in the employment tribunal, employment appeal tribunal, high court, court of appeal and supreme court, and for unions in Certification Officer and Central Arbitration Committee cases.

The most rewarding thing about working at Thompsons for Rachel, is that Thompsons’ commitment to social justice enables her to use the law strategically, providing highly specialist advice for working people often in cases of strategic importance.

As well as giving talks and seminars for trade unions on employment law and collective issues, Rachel writes commentaries for publications by organisations such as the TUC, as well as Thompsons’ own publications, including the Labour and European Law Review. She has featured on the BBC Newsnight program, speaking about industrial action law.


Rachel's case experience

  • Recovered over £1.9 million for a group of Unite members in blacklisting claims, against major construction companies, arising from the activities of the Consulting Association (Barclay & Others v Various Defendants & Others, 2019
  • Secured a successful joint union resistance to an attempt by a local authority to obtain a High Court injunction to prevent their members from taking strike action (Birmingham City Council v Unite the Union & Unison, 2019)
  • Successfully challenged a High Court injunction, obtained by the employer without notice, to enable union members to picket lorry park entrances, as well as the right to conduct lawful protests on the public highway (Eastham Refinery Ltd v Unite the Union, 2018)
  • Successfully appealed to the Supreme Court on behalf of the NASUWT to determine the correct application of the Apportionment Act to the calculation of strike pay (Hartley & Others v King Edward VI College, 2017)
  • Acted for a Unite branch secretary in a claim of unlawful detriment on grounds of her trade union activities, in which the employment tribunal found against the employer (Ms K Smith v London Borough of Bromley, 2017
  • Secured an employment appeal tribunal decision upholding the finding of the employment tribunal that the way in which the employer had dealt with a complaint against the claimant amounted to unlawful discrimination on the ground of his sexual orientation (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions v Mr B Whyment McCarthy)

Professional memberships

Rachel is a member of the Industrial Law Society.