A Health and Safety investigation or prosecution is a serious matter for any individual or organisation. The criminal conviction of a company may be commercially catastrophic: it will be personally devastating for a business owner, manager or director, who will typically be honest and of previously impeccable character. Conviction can result in imprisonment.
Recent legal changes make culpable individuals more likely to be sent to prison for Health and Safety infractions. Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, for the first time, companies can be convicted of corporate manslaughter because of serious management failures.
After an accident, we advise and represent clients in proceedings or investigation, whether by fighting liability or limiting the damage. Unusually for lawyers, we will audit companies for compliance and risk, and bring staff up to speed in seminars and lectures, before anything goes wrong.
We have extensive experience in successfully defending prosecutions brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and manslaughter legislation, brought by the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service or even private prosecutors. In R –v– Henry Todd we successfully defended a private manslaughter prosecution brought by the father of a young man lost at the top of Mount Everest on a climbing expedition against the supplier of oxygen bottles. The father thought that someone must be to blame; the Judge directed that accidents without blame do happen.