Amid the gloom surrounding fall-out from 'Bloodgate', Richards' appointment is likely to raise a smile in English rugby circles.
The 40-year-old Berkshire official began refereeing in 1995, and is among the selections for this weekend's opening round of league action. It will be his 22nd Premiership match.
Richards' namesake, the former Harlequins rugby director, is currently serving a three-year ban following the fake blood injury episode involving Quins wing Tom Williams during last season's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster.
Williams is suspended until November, while former club physiotherapist Steph Brennan is banned for two years following a detailed European Rugby Cup disciplinary probe that saw details of Quins' subsequent attempted cover-up exposed.
Charles Jillings, meanwhile, became the damaging saga's latest victim when he resigned as Quins chairman last week.
Further revelations are likely tomorrow when the ERC independent disciplinary committee publishes more judgements from the appeal hearing.
And Quins could face fresh disciplinary charges, with expulsion from this season's Heineken Cup still a possibility.