If your business is facing a health and safety or environmental investigation or prosecution, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Or, you may be a public body used to the process, but short of hands. In either case, our regulatory lawyers can offer you the expert advice and assistance you need to deal with the matter.
How can our health and safety solicitors help?
Our specialist team advises and represents clients in a number of fields:
- Health and safety: our team of health and safety solicitors are very well known for its work in this field, undertaking both prosecution and defence work. We act in cases involving the full range of health and safety offences, including manslaughter – whether being investigated by the police, Health & Safety Executive, Care Quality Commission or local authorities. Our work spans all industries, including construction, care, waste, manufacturing, retail, hotels and leisure. Our work has recently seen us advising a pharmacist about accurate dispensing of medicines, advising on workplace transport issues, acting in cases against gas fitters and in cases involving asbestos exposure.
- Fire safety: we can deal with all matters of fire safety. For example, we have recently advised businesses whose electrical equipment is housed in tower blocks, and on meeting new standards in the building industry.
- Food safety: as an illustration, we have recently acted in a case involving food allergens, in which a child suffered an anaphylactic shock. This was an investigation by a local authority.
- Water safety: as an example, we dealt with the potential prosecution of a marina operator by a water undertaker, concerning contamination of the public water supply; the issue was in fact resolved following reference to statutory arbitration.
- Environmental: acting for both commercial and private clients, our environmental solicitors offer advice during investigations and prosecutions by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales. We’ve had considerable success avoiding charges being laid or withdrawn completely through effective negotiations with the Agency. Recent cases have involved fly-tipping, suspected pollution of a river and discovery of bats during a construction project.
What is the process for a a health and safety or environmental investigation or prosecution?
Every case is different and the advice we offer will be tailed to your particular case and circumstances. The process will vary but cases generally go through these steps:
- Self-reporting: businesses are required to report certain breaches to the regulator themselves. We can advise when this is necessary and the best way to approach this.
- Investigation: at the beginning the those investigating the criminal offence will still be considering what action to take, but we find that it is helpful to have our advice as early as possible. This puts our clients is the best possible position to protect their position. We will advise you what information you will need to provide to the regulator and what information they in turn should be providing to you. You may also require advice during interviews under caution, and we can help whether they are at a police station or in writing.
- The method of enforcement action (if any): wherever possible, we will strive to prevent any action being taking against your business at all. If an enforcement notice has been served we can help with how to proceed, whether that be in compliance with the notice or appeal in some cases.
- Prosecution: In criminal cases, we will advise on the like hood of conviction and will constantly update our clients as the case moves forward. Circumstances can change as evidence and other documents come to light and we will always make sure our clients can make informed decisions on the best way to proceed. As a matter of course we will always deal with any questions of bail and undertake general trial preparation.
- Sentencing: we always keep our clients informed on possible penalties if the case results in a conviction. We can help to mitigate circumstances, such as considering finances and other effects of a conviction.
- Appeals: we are well placed to advise our clients on all types of appeals, having experience at every level, including the Court of Appeal and former House of Lords.
How long does it take?
How long it takes will depend on the investigation process and the court’s timetable, if applicable. We will keep you regularly updated as to the progress of the case and the likely timescale wherever possible.
We are members of the Health and Safety Lawyers’ Association.
One of our team is a barrister who has been appointed to the specialist regulatory list (formerly known as the Attorney-General’s list).