A Health and Safety investigation may be launched should the HSE or local authority receive a complaint of dangerous work practices or in the unfortunate event of accident. It is vital to regularly review and update your procedures to ensure the safety of your workforce and guard against the possibility of prosecution should any workplace injury occur. Our business defence Solicitors in Leicester can help protect your business.
A breach of Health and Safety regulations can be investigated and prosecuted as a criminal offence. Traditionally if breaches were found to have occurred a company would be made subject to large financial penalties with criminal prosecution of individuals being reserved for incidents involving a fatality or serious injury. However it is now becoming common practise for individuals including directors, partners and managers to be pursued as being personally liable in more routine cases. If criminal liability is found against an individual the penalty can be severe and for a number of offences includes imprisonment.
Our Business Defence team combines specialist knowledge with experience defending criminal prosecutions. In particular we can assist you or your business in the follows ways:
Advice on compliance – you may wish to instruct our Business Defence to review your existing procedures to safeguard against accidents, complaints of spot checks by the HSE or local authorities.
Representation during an investigation – if your business is subjected to a formal Health and Safety investigation evidence may be gathered and witnesses interviewed in the same way as a police investigation. Once the evidence has been gathered you are likely to be formally interviewed under caution as either a nominated person on behalf of the company or as an individual suspected of a health and safety offence. You will have the right to be legally represented during the interview and it is essential that you exercise that right as the outcome of case is very often determined by the account given in the initial interview.
Representation at Court – in the event that a Health and Safety investigation results in a prosecution the case will proceed through the standard criminal courts. It is unlikely that the magistrates or judge hearing the case will have any specialist knowledge in the complicated issues they are dealing with and are likely to rely on the knowledge of the lawyers presenting the case. Whether the case is dealt with at the Magistrates or Crown Court we can provide specialist representation at preliminary hearings and at trial.
Contesting Ancillary Orders – if the court determines that a health and safety breach has occurred, in addition to any sentence that may be passed the court can order an individual be disqualified from acting as a director for any period up to 15 years. We can provide advice, assistance and representation in contesting and appealing such orders.