The Chief Executive of Thompsons, Stephen Cavalier, says it's "a privilege and an honour" to do the job.

Given the threats facing the trade union and labour movement, however, it is also a challenging one. So he's determined to ensure that "whatever is thrown at us by this government, we come through it even stronger and remain the leading legal advisers to the trade union and labour movement".

Through all this, the firm, founded in 1921 by WH Thompson, will remain committed to its core aim of delivering justice for working people and representing those injured or mistreated at work.

And that, says Stephen, means looking after the concerns and interests not just of the firm's trade union clients, but also Thompsons’ dedicated and committed staff.

Leading cases 

Wilson and ors v UK [2002] - decision by the European Court of Human Rights that, by de-recognising trade unions, the UK had undermined their right to be part of a collective bargaining arrangement

R (Bectu) v Department of Trade and Industry [2001] - European Court of Justice decision that inclusion of a 13-week qualifying period in the UK legislation implementing the working time directive was incompatible with the directive

Dines v Initial Healthcare Services [1994] - Court of Appeal decision that a change of contractor following a competitive tendering exercise amounted to the transfer of an undertaking


Stephen regularly gives talks and lectures on legal and trade union issues both at events organised by Thompsons and external organisations such as the Institute of Employment Rights, Labour Party, the TUC and individual unions.

Stephen recently gave evidence to the House of Commons Trade Union Bill Committee on the pernicious effects of the government’s Trade Union Bill and to the Justice Select Committee on the denial of justice caused by the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees.

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

In particular, he has written extensively on TUPE on which he is a recognised expert, having appeared as a witness at the European Parliament Social Affairs committee on the Acquired Rights Directive. Along with others, he provided the committee with expert testimony about the UK's failure to properly implement the directive into UK law. The law was subsequently amended.

Professional membership

A past chair of the Industrial Law Society, Stephen remains a member. He has been a member of the Labour Party since 1979 and is a proud season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur football club. 


Stephen joined Thompsons in 1987 initially as a personal injury lawyer, but soon added employment law to his portfolio. He was heavily involved in the dispute between ACTT and TVam in 1987, when 200 members were sacked for striking over terms and conditions.

He became increasingly involved in trade union and employment law work, eventually setting up Thompsons' Employment Rights unit in 1995, the first unit dedicated solely to trade union law.

Stephen remained at the unit until 2003 when he became the firm's Client Director, giving him a seat on the Executive Board. He became the Chief Executive Designate in 2006 and took on the permanent position in May 2007.