Richard Ryan

Solicitor Since: 2004
Called 2014

Richard is a direct and clear thinker. He has excellent substantive knowledge of the law and is always a pleasure to work with.

Legal 500 (2024) - Employment (Tier 2)


Richard is a barrister with experience on both sides of the profession spanning over 20 years, having trained and qualified as a solicitor 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 is described in the leading legal directories as an “accomplished advocate” (Legal500) who provides “pragmatic and commercial advice” (Chambers & Partners).

Richard has progressed his career at the bar by developing a busy and broad civil and commercial practice, within Chambers’ areas of expertise but with a particular emphasis on:

  • Employment (across the whole spectrum of claims, whether in the tribunal or civil courts, commensurate with his previous experience as an employment solicitor and including any day-to-day HR support or more generally strategic or policy advice on complex/sensitive/high value matters, particularly with a discrimination element);
  • Internal investigations/Regulatory proceedings (including as an adviser to internal disciplinary panels, DBS appeals, or representing individuals before their professional body, including in the sports, medicine or accountancy sectors);
  • Education (including special education provision, disability-related access/needs, attending SEND tribunals, etc);
  • Personal Injury/Human Rights/negligence (including employer and public liability claims in the employment context, such as work-place related stress and harassment claims; he also acts on behalf of government departments and agencies, dealing with all types of private law claims based on the the state’s duty of care, ranging from prisoner assault/negligence claims, to privacy and confidentiality); and
  • Inquests (notably with a professional discipline element, but also inquests involving deaths in state detention / the community  – and the regulatory, civil or public law proceedings that can sometimes follow).


He has a nationwide practice and is happy to travel beyond Circuit particularly for multi-day cases or to accommodate client needs.

Richard has a down-to-earth approach and can give robust and realistic advice, whilst not losing sight of points of principle.

He is also qualified to accept instructions on a direct access basis, allowing him to act for individuals who are offered settlement agreements.

Richard is 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, HMPPS (the Prison and Probation Service), the DWP and HMRC.

His sports practice is focused on contractual and regulatory disputes, as well as employment-related advice and litigation.

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 or GDPR and DPA issues (including ICO regulatory actions, subject access requests, etc). He also has recent experience of obtaining an anonymity order and restricted reported order (both interim and permanent) in the employment tribunal.

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, Superdrug, Homebase, 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 first 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. More recently, he successfully represented Homebase in a TUPE claim relating to its purchase of a number of Bathstore showrooms, as part of an administration asset sale.

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.


Before been appointed to the Attorney General’s Counsel Panel, Richard 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).

Since his appointment to the Attorney General’s Counsel Panel, Richard has grown his practice in this area.

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. This has included inquests arising out of deaths in custody which has led Richard to have a working knowledge of some PSIs and PSOs and a whole host of related issues such as ACCT procedures, emergency responses, roll/welfare checks, record keeping (including NOMIS and wing observation books), cell-share risk assessments (CSRA), Challenge Support & Intervention Plans (CSIPs), Reportable Incidents reports, Daily briefing notes, segregation, substance misuse, restraints, hospital escort policies, multi-disciplinary healthcare meetings, resuscitation, keyworker/personal officer scheme, family liaison and more generally clinical reviews or action plans following PPO recommendations. As a result, he is well equipped to address Regulation 28/PFD issues.

Selected recent inquests:

DV (confidential) (2021); Article 2 prison death sitting with a jury, over 7 days in Durham; 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.

DS (confidential) (2022); Article 2 prison death sitting with a jury over 5 days in the Isle of Wight. Richard was instructed by HM Prison Service. The deceased was a serving prisoner who committed suicide.

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. Recently he has been instructed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and has a particular expertise in dealing with Codes of Conduct and ethical related issues for the medical profession. 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/panels 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.

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, boxing promoters and racehorse owners and trainers. This has included settlement agreements and contractual disputes.

Richard has appeared for both Claimants and Defendants in all matters, including where fraud has been either detected or suspected, as well as credit hire disputes based on rate, period and/or need.

Richard accepts instructions in all areas of personal injury acting for Claimants or Defendants on both liability and/or quantum. He has particular experience in accidents at work or breaches of human rights leading to injury/damages.

Richard has appeared for both Claimants and Defendants in all matters, including  where fraud has been either detected or suspected, as well as credit hire disputes based on rate, period and/or need.

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.

Richard is highly experienced in the area of Regulatory and Disciplinary Law. His employment background provides him with an insight into the relevant issues; he is also a member of the ARDL and very familiar with safeguarding investigations by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Since August 2021 to the present day, he has been instructed and retained by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) on disciplinary matters for members (doctors), assisting and advising disciplinary tribunal panels on the RCEM Byelaws and code of conduct, as well as the applicable investigative and disciplinary hearing process and dealing with the frequent evidential queries raised, such as the burden of proof and addressing conflicting accounts amongst witnesses. Richard can also deal with sensitive whistleblowing matters within a highly regulated environment and is the go-to choice for any business or organisation on any type of sensitive internal matter, including those which raise potential civil/criminal liability/offences, harassment or any kind of alleged sexual misconduct. He can conduct investigations as an independent investigator and is known for his down-to-earth manner and professionalism, as well as his informed and commercial advice which is solutions-driven.

Chambers and Partners (2024) - Employment (Up and Coming) - "He is thorough and went above and beyond to assist with the matter beyond the preliminary hearing he had been instructed for." "Richard ensured a result that the client was very happy with. I found Richard to be very informative and thorough."

Legal 500 (2024) - Employment (Tier 2) - "Richard is a direct and clear thinker. He has excellent substantive knowledge of the law and is always a pleasure to work with."

Chambers and Partners (2023) - Employment (Up and Coming) - "Richard Ryan is known for his work in employment law, particularly regarding complex discrimination and national minimum wage matters."

Legal 500 (2023) - Employment (Tier 2) - "Richard is extremely diligent and methodical and provides clear and cogent advice. He is an accomplished advocate."

Chambers and Partners (2022) - Employment (Up and Coming) - "Richard provides swift, pragmatic and commercial advice"

Legal 500 (2022) - Employment (Tier 2) - "Extremely diligent and methodical" and "an accomplished advocate."

Legal 500 (2021) - Employment (Tier 2) - "Always very well-prepared and proactive."

Legal 500 (2020) - Employment (Tier 2) - "Always very well-prepared and proactive."

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

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

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”.


Member of the Inner Temple

Employment Lawyers Association (ELA)

Employment Law Bar Association (ELBA)

Association of Regulatory & Disciplinary Lawyers (ARDL)

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)

Busways Travel Services Limited v Rogerson [2022] EA-2021-0004-AT (unreported EAT case before HHJ Tucker; concerned issue of consultation in context of reasonable adjustments)

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)

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