Doug Christie, union and client director at Thompsons Solicitors since 2007, has dedicated his working life to the trade union and labour movement. Doug oversees links between the firm and its union clients and works with the lawyers who liaise with unions on a day to day basis. Much of his time is spent in a senior managerial role, but he is also actively involved in individual cases.
Doug is responsible for Thompsons Solicitors’ submissions to government and parliamentary committees on a range of issues including personal injury. He was heavily involved in the firm’s submissions to the Government consultation on extending the small claims limit for personal injuries cases and the Jackson review into fixed costs in civil litigation cases.
A member of the firm's executive board, Doug continues to advise unions including the RMT, FBU, POA and BALPA. He regularly provides advice on industrial action ballots, working to keep unions out of court where possible and defending unions against employers' attempts to challenge industrial action in the courts. He has been actively involved in assisting the FBU to oppose the introduction of 96 hour shifts by some fire authorities, a battle with special resonance in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Doug started work for Thompsons Solicitors straight from law school because of its commitment to the labour movement. He qualified with Thompsons Solicitors as a solicitor in 1990 specialising as a personal injury lawyer. Although he continues to work as a personal injury lawyer, he added pensions, industrial action ballots, trade union rules and other specialisms to his portfolio from 1998 onwards. He became the liaison lawyer for the FBU in the same year and for BALPA in 2000. From 2003, he started acting as the liaison lawyer for the RMT and finally for the POA from 2009.
Doug is the son of the former general secretary of the Scottish TUC, Campbell Christie, who died in 2011 and he is the nephew of Leslie Christie, ex-leader of the NUCPS, a forerunner of the PCS civil service union. Trade unions and the Labour Party are very much in Doug’s blood, having started canvassing for the party when he was still at primary school. He is still active in Labour and has stood as a candidate in local elections.
Doug lives in Kent and much of his leisure time is spent managing the senior men’s team at Dartford Harriers. Doug still competes as a veteran in 200 metre and 400-metre races. He no longer runs hurdle races, but still holds the veterans club record for the 110 metres hurdles.
DOUG’S CASE EXPERIENCE
Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry : Public Inquiry following the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.
Fire Brigades Union v South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service : Administrative Court test case on the continuation of 96-hour shifts for operational firefighters following the confirmation of their illegality by the Employment Tribunal.
Mansell and others v South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service : Employment Tribunal test case on the introduction of 96-hour shifts for operational firefighters.
London Borough of Islington and others v The Mayor of London and others : Administrative Court Judicial Review on cuts and fire station closures by the London Fire Brigade.
Tube Lines Ltd v RMT : High Court decision refusing the employer's attempt to injunct RMT industrial action after a ballot.
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority v FBU : High Court application for an injunction on picketing.
Marrion and ors v London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority : Court of Appeal test case on fire service pensions.
Bull and anor v Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham Fire and Rescue Authority; Lincolnshire County Council v FBU and others : Court of Appeal test case confirming that firefighters' contracts required firefighting and related work with the result that paramedic duties could not be imposed as well.
EWS v RMT : Court of Appeal decision on trade dispute ballots confirming that the RMT was not required to serve separate notices on an employer operating industrial relations as a single unit but using two companies as their legal structure.
Dave Green, National Officer at the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The FBU have used the expertise of Thompsons Solicitors for many years now. As the national officer with the legal remit I am in constant contact with their solicitors working out of the regional offices and also Doug Christie as our primary contact at Congress House.
"Aside from the wealth of experience Doug has with the Fire and Rescue Service there is also a recognition that legal issues are interwoven with the politics of the trade union and the labour movement. That is vitally important when establishing a relationship between a union’s legal officer and a team of solicitors. Doug has helped develop that and understands how our union works and what our members expect from them. It is reassuring to have that confidence in Thompsons and Doug.”
Chambers: "Thompsons Solicitors has a knack of getting on particularly well with clients and managing their expectations."
Chambers: "Thompsons Solicitors fields a top-notch trade union practice."