Richard Ryan

Solicitor Since: 2004
Called 2014

Always very well-prepared and proactive

Legal 500 2020


Richard is a barrister with experience on both sides of the profession over the course of more than 15 years, having trained and qualified as a solicitor in 2004 at a leading City law firm and then transferring to the bar in 2014; this gives him an unique insight into the litigation process, enabling him to support lay and professional clients at every stage. He has been recognised by the leading legal directories for a number of years (both as a solicitor and a barrister), and “competes at a high level and has a good reputation” (Chambers & Partners). Richard is also a member of the Attorney General’s regional panel of junior Counsel to the Crown and regularly acts for a variety of government departments and agencies including the Ministry of Justice, the DWP and HMRC.

Richard has developed a busy nationwide practice commensurate with his previous experience and also within Chambers’ areas of expertise. He has progressed his career at the bar by developing a broad civil and commercial practice, with a particular emphasis on employment and discrimination laws, internal investigations, inquests (notably with a professional discipline element) and education. This means that Richard can usually be found at an employment tribunal or in the civil courts, or dealing with public / professional regulatory and disciplinary law and proceedings – at any stage – particularly those involving discrimination challenges or other serious allegations.

In the context of industrial relations he is highly regarded for his expertise in trade union related matters and collective actions.

Richard has a down-to-earth approach and can give robust and realistic advice whilst not losing sight of points of principle. For more details, see Areas of Expertise below.

He can be instructed on a direct basis.


Areas of Expertise


Richard’s principal area of specialism is employment and professional discipline and regulation and he is qualified to accept instructions under the Bar Council Public Access scheme, so he can advise on settlement agreements for individuals or complex / high-value claims for senior executives.

This mixed employment practice allows him to deal with any kind of employment dispute, at any stage, for any type of client.

However his practice is mainly Respondent-based and therefore he continues to advise both HR managers and in-house lawyers on day-to-day HR issues, as well as providing representation at hearings. He is very experienced in working directly with in-house teams, whether in the private or public sector, particularly where there are potential or actual heavyweight discrimination or collective claims.

He is instructed on all types of tribunal hearings, whether lasting one day or several weeks. He acts for a wide range of clients including private individuals, financial institutions, charities, local authorities, NHS Trusts, major companies (FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies), SMEs and a number of large insurers. Such advice has related to contentious and non-contentious employment law issues in all industry sectors.

With a specialism in trade union law and collective consultation obligations, as a solicitor Richard has acted in some of the leading cases on protective awards, including UK Coal v NUM/BACM [2008] IRLR 4 and AMICUS v Nissan [2005] All ER (D) 128. He has advised a number of different trade unions on such claims, but also employers – and therefore his ‘poacher-turned-gamekeeper’ (or vice versa) experiences can be invaluable.

Richard’s experience in the retail sector is particularly extensive; he has over the course of his career advised Tesco, Sainsburys, Greggs, Primark and other organisations with branches, head offices and distribution warehouses – and therefore is fully aware of the complexities that can bring in the HR/employment context. In 2015 he acted for Tesco at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Gondalia v Tesco [[2015] UKEAT/0320/14/JOJ which has appeared in the recent edition of Tolley’s Employment Handbook as authority for a more flexible approach by tribunals when dealing with allegations of “dishonesty”. In 2016 he successfully acted for Greggs plc in a tribunal claim that received national press attention and appeared in the Tribunal Watch section of Personnel Today (“Greggs baker fairly dismissed for not washing hands”), provoking the well-trodden debate over dismissals of long serving employees based on zero-tolerance policies. He continues to be instructed by “market-leading companies”, as recognised by Chambers & Partners in 2014.

He is routinely conducting cases against more senior Counsel, including QCs. For example, in 2016 he again appeared in the EAT on behalf of the Royal College of Nursing on the reported TUPE case of Arch Initiatives v Greater Manchester West Health NHS Foundation Trust & Others [2016] IRLR 406, which is now one of the leading TUPE cases on the criteria for a service provision change where the activities are split along functional lines. Richard was also instructed in the original ET hearing which lasted 17 days.

He has recently developed a niche practice of advising and representing individuals in the marine sector, on jurisdictional arguments and other disputes with an international dimension.

In terms of HR professional support, Richard can provide day to day advice, but can also be instructed to conduct investigations as an independent external appointment where the allegations involve serious misconduct or a high value or commercially sensitive matter.

He also has experience of professional disciplinary tribunals, including the General Medical Council.



Richard has been appointed to the Attorney General’s Counsel Panel since 2021. Before that time he had built up a knowledge and understanding of coronial law, attending inquests concerning medical treatment, road traffic accidents, and accidents at work. This included representing an interested party (the family) at inquests involving the death of an elderly dementia patient in a care home and the death of hospital patient following a routine gallbladder operation.


He has also acted for healthcare professionals (allied to his professional disciplinary work).


In 2017 he assisted at a high-profile jury inquest relating to a prison death, which raised issues in relation to segregation.


More recently he has represented families, individuals and public bodies in Article 2 jury inquests, including inquests arising out of a death in custody.


Selected Inquests:


DV (confidential) (2021); Article 2 prison death sitting with a jury, over 7 days; Richard was instructed by HM Prison Service. The deceased was a serving prisoner who was transferred to hospital for treatment; the issue in the case was the time period from the onset of symptoms to the transfer to hospital, communications between prison and nursing staff, the nature of diabetes ketoacidosis and the significance of hospital treatment outside of usual protocols. A number of causative matters were in issue.


Inquiries / Investigations:


Richard has been involved in a number of matters in the area of Regulatory and Disciplinary Law, which are of a confidential nature. His employment background provides him with an insight into the relevant issues.

Richard has experience in public law and social security, particularly where there is an employment/equality aspect to the proceedings. This includes all types of statutory challenges and appeals. Richard’s background in the employment field provides him with further expertise in interpreting statutory schemes or internal rules, understanding the limits of powers and advising on how public bodies are required to act to comply with their duties.

Richard is also experienced in professional regulatory and disciplinary law. As a member of our Investigations Team he is experienced in appeals relating to professional bodies or organisations, or other internal appeals where the stakes are high. He has been instructed in a range of complex and sensitive investigations. He can also be involved in such matters before they escalate to regulatory or criminal proceedings. He is able to represent or advise individuals or companies, or other organisations and public (or quasi-public) bodies and his direct access rights allow him to do so without the involvement of a solicitor. Also, given his background as a solicitor, clients often highlight how Richard’s approach to these matters is modern, sympathetic and practical, whilst benefitting from the independence that the bar brings.

Richard’s commercial practice often relates to shareholder disputes, employee competition and bonus-related or other contract type claims. However he can undertake all form of consumer and commercial disputes, including those under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Given his main specialism, he is able to advise on the more commercial aspects of employment law, such as restrictive covenants and springboard injunctions, Board level contract terminations, shareholder disputes or other high-value contractual litigation. He is able to assist clients in regards to any such matters, both in terms of advice itself and representation at hearing.

He has recently advised a number of individual employees on defending proceedings brought against them by their ex-employer in order to claw-back bonuses that had been paid to them. He has also advised employers on recovering from departing employees various kinds of payments such as training costs, indemnified commission, etc.

He has also advised on employment agency fees and commissions, as well as IR35 risks.

In the area of Sports law, Richard has advised several businesses in the sports sector, including professional football clubs in the Championship and Premiership. This has included player and senior executive settlement agreements and contractual disputes.

Richard has appeared for both Claimants and Defendants in all matters, including low velocity impact claims and cases where fraud has been either detected or suspected, as well as credit hire disputes based on rate, period and/or need. He recently delivered a talk to a national law firm on the concept of “fundamental dishonesty”.

Richard accepts instructions in all areas of personal injury acting for Claimants or Defendants on both liability and/or quantum. He has experience in accidents at work (e.g. the ‘six pack’ regulations), highways claims, and RTAs. He represents clients in fast track trial proceedings, in addition to small claims, disposal hearings (including through the MOJ Portal process), as well as application hearings at all stages of proceedings e.g. relief from sanctions. He is also regularly instructed on infant approvals, including quantum advice and settlement hearings. For credit hire/fraud related personal injury matters, see above.

Richard has appeared for both Claimants and Defendants in all matters, including low velocity impact claims and cases where fraud has been either detected or suspected, as well as credit hire disputes based on rate, period and/or need. He recently delivered a talk to a national law firm on the concept of “fundamental dishonesty”.

Given the close connection between disability discrimination in the employment context and disability discrimination in the educational setting, Richard is well placed to advise and represent interested parties in regard to SEND tribunals, EHCP assessments, EHC plans, pupil admissions/exclusion appeals and more generally the full-range of education-related disputes (including judicial review claims).

He accepts instructions on behalf of local authorities, colleges and universities.

Richard’s practice in Education Law is also complemented by his expertise in regulatory matters such as Teachers’ disciplinary proceedings.

Legal 500 2022 -  Tier 2 

Legal 500 2021 - Tier 2 - Always very well-prepared and proactive.

Legal 500 2020 - Tier 2 - "Always very well-prepared and proactive"

Legal 500 2018/2019 - "His advice is concise and considered."

Chambers and Partners 2014  - Richard Ryan “brings a particular focus on trade union work and experience of advising market-leading companies”

Chambers and Partners 2013 - Richard Ryan's "response has always been balanced, practical and timely," explains one source. "He competes at a high level and has a good reputation”.

Legal 500, 2013 – Recommended. Richard Ryan has now converted to the Bar and joined Parklane Plowden.

Member of the Inner Temple

Employment Lawyers Association

Employment Law Bar Association

Regional Panel of Counsel for Government Legal Department (formerly Treasury Solicitor)


Employment Law

Gondalia v Tesco Stores Ltd [2014] UKEAT/0320/14/JOJ (acted for Tesco at both ET and EAT level; case on dealing with allegations of dishonesty in disciplinary matters)

Arch Initiatives v Greater Manchester West Health NHS Foundation Trust & Others [2016] IRLR 406 (acted at both ET and EAT level; leading TUPE case)

As a solicitor:

UK Coal v NUM/BACM [2008] IRLR 4 (acted for the successful trade union; leading collective consultation case)

AMICUS v Nissan [2005] All ER (D) 128 (acted for the trade union as the lead solicitor)

LLB, 1st prize for commercial law (2001); LPC, Commendation (2002); BPP London, Bar Transfer Test (2013)