Richard heads up Thompsons' Trade Union Law Group, made up of six specialist lawyers working at national level and in the regions.

The group provides specialist advice and representation in all areas of trade union law such as industrial action, recognition, rule book issues, elections and trade union governance.

It also acts as a specialist resource on all aspects of collective employment law including TUPE transfers and consultation.


Richard has pursued appeals on behalf of clients up to and including the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

RMT v UK [ongoing] - application to the European Court of Human Rights that UK industrial action legislation fails to comply with article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights

RMT v Serco Docklands [2011] EWCA Civ 226 - Court of Appeal decision that there was no statutory obligation on unions to use any particular category of jobs and therefore no obligation to adopt the categories used for pay purposes

PCS v Minister for Civil Service [2010] EWHC 1027 - successful High Court application for judicial review concerning changes to the civil service compensation scheme

Matthews and ors v Kent and Medway Towns Fire Authority [2006] - successful test case in the House of Lords concerning part-time workers' rights for retained firefighters on behalf of 11,000 FBU members

Ackroyd v Merseycare NHS Trust [2006] - successful defence in the Court of Appeal that journalists' sources are protected under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights


Richard regularly give talks and lectures on employment law to clients both at events organised by Thompsons and external organisations such as the Institute of Employment Rights and the Industrial Law Society.

He writes articles and commentary on employment law matters for Thompsons' own publications including Labour and European Law Review, as well as external publications.

Professional membership

Richard has been a member of the executive committee of the Industrial Law Society and the Institute of Employment Rights since 2010; and has been a member of the Law Society employment law committee.


After completing his training at Freshfields Solicitors in 1990, Richard became a legal officer at UNISON in 1992.

He then moved to Thompsons in 1998 and became the head of the Trade Union Law Group in 2008.

Recommendations for the Thompsons employment rights team

Chambers: "Thompsons has a knack of getting on particularly well with clients and managing their expectations."

Chambers: "Thompsons fields a top-notch trade union practice".

Legal 500: "Richard Arthur combines razor-sharp mind with excellent pragmatic judgement. Probably the leading expert in the country on industrial action and defending injunction claims, but also with specialist expertise in internal union affairs, blacklisting, collective disputes and human rights and employment."