Richard Voke



Richard is a Partner and Head of the Business Risk and Regulation Team. The team advise organisations on how to deal with the law regarding health and safety, environmental, food, trading and standards.

Richard advises and defends organisations in their dealings with regulatory bodies and government agencies such as the HSE, the Environment Agency, local authorities, the Food Standards Agency, DEFRA, Trading Standards, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, planning authorities and the Advertising Standards Authority.

Richard's wide experience provides him with a unique perspective in handling high profile incidents including fatalities and major pollution for large and small businesses. He has worked extensively for the high hazard industries such as energy, construction, waste and manufacturing. He has developed a consultant pro-active offering that provides organisations with training, monitoring and development to help them avoid significant regulatory challenges and enforcement.

Richard has developed a national reputation. He has used his "pre-lawyer" career experience to provide clients with a practical problem solving approach to their legal problems. He is now almost exclusively defendant focused, but he uses his prosecution experience to good effect to ensure that that the most beneficial outcomes are achieved for his clients. Industry sectors he has worked with include construction, demolition, waste, food, process and energy. During Richard's 15 year career as a regulatory lawyer he has been involved in a number of high profile cases including, most recently successfully defending a demolition company following a major explosion in Manchester. He also provides advice to industry on how to effectively negotiate the regulatory landscape; for example he has advised on the development of Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. His clients range from multinational corporations to small new start-ups. Richard's high profile clients often require advice following incidents that cause press/interest group interest generating requests for information under Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations. Richard manages to provide cutting edge advice on risk management and is in demand by relevant organisations  - he has recently become a Honorary Research Fellow at the Bristol University Safety Systems Research Centre (SSRC) which advises a number of industries including the South West Nuclear Hub.

Prior to Richard's career at Ashfords, he headed the Regulatory Corporate Crime Department for Lyons Davidson. Before becoming a lawyer he worked for 8 years as an inspector/investigator in the HSE mainly in the major hazard industry where he prosecuted his own cases. This provides a unique insight which is valued by clients. Richard had two years as a risk management consultant for AEAT plc leading project teams both in the UK and abroad. Richard has a Master's degree in Environmental Toxicology and spent 3 years as a qualified Biology/Chemistry teacher in the UK and Jamaica. Richard's non-legal career has provided him with a wider perspective in his approach to his clients' needs.


Relevant experience

  • Various clients: Defending a number of clients (including a housebuilder) following fatalities at work.
  • Various clients: Defence of large organisations against the Environment Agency and local authorities relating water pollution and waste incidents.
  • Demolition contractor: Defence of a demolition contractor from HSE prosecution following a major explosion in Manchester.
  • Large construction company: Advising the company in a corporate manslaughter investigation.
  • BAA: Advice on legal risk and liability management in relation to the development of Heathrow Terminal 5.