Fire safety regulations are there to be obeyed and those who fail to do so will be hit hard in the pocket. In one case, a sweets manufacturer was fined £60,000 after a five-storey building that it occupied was condemned as a potential death trap.
The company ran a sweet shop on the ground floor and sublet other parts of the building to a restaurant and for residential purposes. An inspection by fire safety officers revealed, amongst other things, that the fire alarm system did not work and that fire doors were faulty. There had also been no risk assessment.
The company pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and, on top of the fine, was ordered to contribute £5,000 towards the costs of the prosecution. The sentencing judge described the building as an extremely dangerous place that might have become a death trap in the event of fire.
The company had no previous convictions and argued before the Court of Appeal that the fine was likely to have a crippling impact on its business. However, in refusing permission to appeal, the Court found no merit whatsoever in arguments that the penalty imposed was manifestly excessive.