Ranked lawyer recognised for expertise in corporate and gross negligence manslaughter and health and safety enforcement

Jim Meyer is recognised as a leading lawyer with expertise in the potential criminal liability of persons1 following accidents at work and health and safety-related failures.

  • He has represented numerous defendants accused of gross negligence manslaughter following fatal incidents at work – all have been acquitted.
  • He has also advised companies in relation to their potential liability for corporate manslaughter – none have been prosecuted.

That track record should not be a surprise: Jim and his team are one of the few solicitors contracted by the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) to undertake criminal prosecutions on its behalf, and they currently provide an average of 3,480 hours chargeable hours of advice and assistance (including representation at court) per year on health and safety matters.

The reality is that a small number of insurance-funded law firms dominate the provision of legal services to those finding themselves under scrutiny following an accident or as a result of proactive regulation. Jim does not work for such a firm; putting aside the work that he undertakes for the Health and Safety Executive, the majority of Jim’s clients are recommended to him by such firms because of a potential conflict of interest but others are seeking the advice of a specialist lawyer who is completely independent of their insurer.

Jim is not a commercial lawyer and his firm does not undertake any commercial work; he is unique in that he has a huge amount of experience in this area of law but has no commercial arm which vies for an introduction to a potential new client. That is why other lawyers feel confident in recommending him; they know he has the experience and knowledge that will see the client right, but they also know that by referring the client to Jim they are not risking their future relationship.

Providing support to potential witnesses when they speak to investigating authorities and in advance of them giving evidence

Because of Jim’s experience both as a health and safety enforcement lawyer but moreover as a defence specialist with over 27 years‘ experience of criminal litigation, he is often asked to advise and provide support to potential witnesses when an investigating authority, such as the police, HSE and the Office of Rail and Road (“ORR”), indicates it wishes to speak to them. Jim provides the reassurance that the individual’s rights, including the right not to incriminate oneself, are protected and that the witness provides the best evidence (s)he can; in advance of any meeting Jim will do his best to ensure that the format for the questioning is understood, the topics for discussion are fully appreciated and that the witness is properly prepared for these.

Jim is also able to provide familiarisation training to witnesses who are to be called to give evidence during proceedings (inquisitorial and criminal); using his 27 years‘ experience as a contentious litigator, Jim will make sure the witness has a complete understanding of the theory, practice and procedure of giving evidence and what is expected of them. This includes orientating the witness with:

  • The layout of the legal forum;
  • The likely sequence of events when the witness will be giving evidence;
  • The different responsibilities of the various people at the hearing.

Sound knowledge and understanding of health and safety law

Jim has practiced health and safety law now for over 19 years. He has advised clients in relation to the application of and compliance with the primary duties set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, as well as those created and set out in the Act’s subordinate regulations, including:

  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015;
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007;
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012;
  • Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2005;
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002;
  • Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012;
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989;
  • Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;
  • Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999;
  • Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998;
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992;
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999;
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998;
  • Radiation (Emergency Preparedness & Public Information) Regulations 2001;
  • Work at Height Regulations 2005;
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Knowledge and experience of Enforcement Notice Appeals and the Employment Tribunal

Jim has advised on and had the conduct of numerous Enforcement Notice Appeals; each case varies but they all follow similar arguments:

  • Some relate to an inspector’s interpretation of the law;
  • Others relate to the use and extent of the inspector’s powers;
  • Often, whilst the breach is admitted it is the proposed solution that is appealed, primarily on the grounds that it is not reasonably practicable;
  • An argument might be that the time allowed to comply with the notice is too short;
  • Finally, on rare occasions appellants will argue that whilst they have breached the law, the breach is so insignificant that the notice should be cancelled.

In each instance, the goal is to either vary the terms of the notice or have it overturned altogether but you need to act quickly; appeals must be made within 21 days.

Knowledge and experience of Coroner’s inquests and public enquiries

Jim has advised interested parties at numerous inquests, including conducting the advocacy and providing support and awareness training for witnesses who may be called to give evidence. Although the purpose of inquests is to determine who, where, when and how the deceased died, the questioning can often go wider than these 4 issues and Coroners will almost certainly direct for a number of enquiries to be carried out, including:

  • Obtaining medical records;
  • Taking witness statements;
  • Obtaining expert reports;
  • Obtaining prison records / police records / other relevant records;
  • Obtaining CCTV or other recordings of relevant evidence.

In addition, reports of investigations carried out by third parties may be disclosed, most often:

  • NHS Trust internal investigation reports;
  • Care Quality Commission investigation reports;
  • Reports by the HSE.

In addition to assisting witnesses, Jim can provide support to any duty-holder’s wider investigation, including coordinating and providing investigative resources, and / or by liasing with the coroner in relation to requests for disclosure and witnesses that are likely to be called during the proceedings.

1 This includes natural persons and corporations, unincorporated bodies, partnerships, limited liability partnerships and trusts.

Relevant case law in relation to corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter

[2020] EWCA Crim 1376
[2020] EWCA Crim 1376
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, McGowan J, Chamberlain J)
28 October 2020

A judge had erred in refusing a submission of no case to answer in respect of an offence of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The defendant's actions in disposing of a gun after a shooting which led to a death of a friend were capable of being interpreted as consistent with panic, and the possible inferences of guilt to be drawn from those actions should not have been left to the jury.

[2020] EWCA Crim 1093
[2020] EWCA Crim 1093
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Burnett LCJ, Sweeney J, Murray J)
18 August 2020

In an appeal against conviction for manslaughter by gross negligence, the court found that the case should have been withdrawn from the jury where there was no evidence of a non-expert nature which could help to determine causation, and where the expert evidence established a 90% chance of survival at a specified time with medical assistance. That left a realistic possibility that the deceased would have lived. Accordingly, the evidence was not capable of establishing causation to the criminal standard.

[2019] EWCA Crim 837
[2019] EWCA Crim 837
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Stuart-Smith J, Jeremy Baker J)
16 May 2019

The conviction of the owner of a food takeaway business for gross negligence manslaughter, following the death of a customer who suffered from a peanut allergy, was quashed as unsafe. When directing the jury, the judge had conflated the general duty owed by the owner to ensure that appropriate safety systems were in place to protect customers with declared allergies and the duties of those responsible for ensuring that appropriate steps had been taken.

[2018] EWCA Crim 2435
[2018] EWCA Crim 2435
CA (Crim Div) (Macur LJ, Julian Knowles J, Judge Wall QC)
6 November 2018

A construction site manager's conviction for gross negligence manslaughter following a labourer's death after a trench that he was either standing in or at the edge of collapsed was upheld. The manager had argued that there was no evidence that he had seen the trench being dug in an unsafe manner, but the factual matrix was that it was a question of when, not if, the trench would collapse, and that was, or should, have been apparent to anybody.

[2017] EWCA Crim 2186
[2017] EWCA Crim 2186
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Burnett LCJ, Teare J, Kerr J)
20 December 2017

The court considered the definitive sentencing guideline on corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food and safety hygiene offences when significantly reducing the fine imposed on a company following the death of a contractor on its premises. The company, a "very large organisation" for the purposes of the guideline, had pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3(1) which occurred in unusual circumstances and involved low culpability and a low likelihood of harm.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1783
[2017] EWCA Crim 1783
CA (Crim Div) (Hickinbottom LJ, Openshaw J, Judge Topolski QC)
8 November 2017

A sentence of six years' imprisonment for gross negligence manslaughter was appropriate where a restaurant owner had persistently failed over several months to take steps to ensure that customers suffering from peanut allergies were not served with food containing peanuts. Even after one customer had suffered a violent allergic reaction, he did not improve his systems, with the consequence that another customer died after suffering an allergic reaction.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1168
[2017] EWCA Crim 1168
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Haddon-Cave J, Judge Inman QC)
31 July 2017

An optometrist was not guilty of the gross negligence manslaughter of a young boy where she had breached her statutory duty of care to examine the internal structure of his eyes as part of a routine eye examination and consequently failed to identify an abnormality on the optic nerve which ultimately led to his death. That was not enough to found a case of gross negligence manslaughter as there had not been a "serious and obvious risk of death" at the time of the breach.

CA (Crim Div) (Davis LJ, King LJ, Andrews J)
24 May 2017

An extended sentence of 15 years, with a 12-year custodial portion, imposed concurrently for two counts of manslaughter on a driver who had led police on a high-speed chase before losing control of his vehicle and killing two people, was not unduly lenient.

[2017] NICA 29
[2017] NICA 29
CA (NI) (Gillen LJ, Weir LJ, Stephens J)
18 May 2017

A suspended sentence of 15 months' imprisonment imposed on a building contractor for gross negligence manslaughter was unduly lenient. Cases where employees were required to work from dangerous heights with an obvious potential for serious or fatal consequences if they were not protected required deterrent sentences. Furthermore, there had been no basis for suspending the sentence in the instant case.

[2016] NICA 51
[2016] NICA 51
CA (NI) (Gillen LJ, Weatherup LJ, McBride J)
7 December 2016

A judge in a murder trial had erred in refusing to leave alternative counts of gross negligence manslaughter and unlawful act manslaughter to the jury, as both potential defences to the charge of murder had been plausibly arguable in the circumstances. Also, although a plea to manslaughter had not been accepted by the Crown, defence counsel's failure to reveal the precise basis on which the plea had been made was unsatisfactory.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1716
[2016] EWCA Crim 1716
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Irwin LJ, Globe J)
15 November 2016

The conviction of a colorectal surgeon for manslaughter by gross negligence was rendered unsafe by the directions given by the trial judge to the jury. In particular, the judge's direction on the "gross negligence" aspect of the offence was inadequate.

[2016] EWCA Crim 741
[2016] EWCA Crim 741
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Popplewell J, Goss J)
21 June 2016

A finding of no case to answer in relation to a GP's prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter following the death of a young boy was upheld where there was insufficient evidence to show that a reasonably competent GP should have recognised an obvious and serious risk to life. The judge had not misinterpreted or misconstrued the medical expert's evidence such that her conclusion had been outwith the range of reasonable conclusions.

[2016] EWHC 779 (QB)
[2016] EWHC 779 (QB)
QBD (Coulson J)
15 April 2016

Although corporate manslaughter charges against an NHS trust had been dismissed on the basis of no case to answer, the trust was unsuccessful in seeking to recover its costs incurred in defending the proceedings. Since the testimony of the Crown's expert, although unconvincing, was not plainly wrong in a way that should have been obvious to the Crown, the decision to prosecute could not be regarded as improper.

[2015] EWHC 2967 (QB)
[2015] EWHC 2967 (QB)
Crown Ct (Inner London) (Coulson J)
16 October 2015

It was contrary to the purpose of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to abandon a corporate manslaughter prosecution simply because it referred to events which took place prior to the Act coming into force. Whilst pre-commencement events could not found a charge of corporate manslaughter, they could be relevant to it. The Crown did not have to name those whom it alleged had failed to carry out their management functions properly; it had to identify the management tier considered to be the lowest level of the senior management team culpable of the offence and to particularise the case against it.

[2015] EWCA Crim 849
[2015] EWCA Crim 849
CA (Crim Div) (Laws LJ, Gilbart J, Judge Tonking)
24 April 2015

A sentence of five years' imprisonment imposed following a conviction for gross negligence manslaughter, where the victim's death resulted from consensual sadomasochistic sex, was reduced to three years. Although the principle effected by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.143(1), that crimes which resulted in death should be treated more seriously and dealt with more severely, applied to gross negligence manslaughter, there was a difference in culpability between an offender who intended to cause his victim harm and one who intended no harm.

[2015] EWCA Crim 558
[2015] EWCA Crim 558
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Cranston J, Singh J)
1 April 2015

A sentence of nine years' detention was appropriate in the case of a 15-year-old boy who had been convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and a firearms offence after accidentally shooting his girlfriend when showing off a gun to her.

[2013] UKUT 305 (TCC)
UT (Tax) (Henderson J)
4 July 2013

The First-tier Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that a business owner's costs of defending a criminal charge of gross negligence manslaughter could not, for tax purposes, be deducted from the profits of his business, because his defence had been conducted primarily to protect his liberty and personal reputation.

[2013] EWCA Crim 1056
[2013] EWCA Crim 1056
CA (Crim Div) (Pitchford LJ, Griffith Williams J, Judge Ford QC (Recorder of Bristol))
6 June 2013

A sentence of two-and-a-half years' imprisonment was appropriate in the case of a doctor who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter after failing to take appropriate action in respect of a patient who was displaying the symptoms of a life-threatening diabetic condition.

[2013] EWCA Crim 358
[2013] EWCA Crim 358
CA (Crim Div) (Aikens LJ, Irwin J, Edward-Stuart J)
8 February 2013

A sentence of four years' imprisonment was appropriate in the case of the appellant, who had pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence after being involved in the fatal administration of heroin to a fellow drug user.

[2012] EWCA Crim 2520
[2012] EWCA Crim 2520
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Simon J, Wilkie J)
30 November 2012

The court upheld a two-year custodial sentence imposed on a hospital consultant who pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. The general principles enunciated in R. v Wood (Clive) [2009] EWCA Crim 651, [2010] 1 Cr. App. R. (S.) 2 and Attorney General's Reference (Nos 60, 62 and 63 of 2009), Re [2009] EWCA Crim 2693, [2010] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 46 in relation to sentencing for manslaughter cases applied equally to cases involving gross negligence manslaughter. There was no special exception for manslaughter occurring in the context of gross medical negligence.

[2012] EWCA Crim 2613
[2012] EWCA Crim 2613
CA (Crim Div) (Treacy LJ, King J, Judge McCreath (Recorder of Westminster) )
15 November 2012

A sentence of three-years-and-nine-months' imprisonment after a guilty plea to gross negligence manslaughter was appropriate for a mother who had left her one and two-year-old sons unattended in the bath and the younger child had drowned.

[2012] EWCA Crim 641
[2012] EWCA Crim 641
CA (Crim Div) (Toulson LJ, Kenneth Parker J, Judge Barker QC)
29 February 2012

In order to rely on conduct comprising interference with a motor vehicle within the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.22A(1)(b) as evidence of unlawful act manslaughter, the section was not to be read as requiring the interference to have taken place prior to the driving, or to have altered the external and physical state of the vehicle. A passenger who applied the handbrake while the vehicle was moving deliberately interfered with a mechanical part of the car in a manner that was obviously dangerous to any reasonable person, and the offence would be made out.

[2011] EWCA Crim 3272
[2011] EWCA Crim 3272
CA (Crim Div) (Moses LJ, Walker J, Singh J)
11 November 2011

In ruling that there was insufficient evidence to infer that a defendant, facing a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence, had knowledge of the fatal injuries sustained by a two-year-old child living in his house, the judge had erred in focusing too much on the defendant's statement that he had been working hard and was away for long hours. There was sufficient evidence upon which a jury properly directed could infer that he had to have known that the child was sufficiently seriously injured so as to require treatment.

[2011] EWCA Crim 2629
[2011] EWCA Crim 2629
CA (Crim Div) (Rix LJ, Stadlen J, Judge Stephens QC)
18 July 2011

A sentence of two years and eight months' imprisonment was not manifestly excessive where an offender had pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. Attorney General's Reference (Nos 60, 62 and 63 of 2009), Re [2009] EWCA Crim 2693, [2010] 2 Cr. App. R. (S.) 46 had created a step change in the tariff of sentencing in cases of unlawful act manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter, each of which ultimately rested on its own facts and by reference to a proper consideration of the fatal consequences of the offence.

[2011] EWCA Crim 1337
[2011] EWCA Crim 1337
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Beatson J, Bean J)
11 May 2011

A fine which had the effect of putting a company out of business might be an acceptable consequence of a conviction for corporate manslaughter.

[2010] EWCA Crim 1474
[2010] EWCA Crim 1474
CA (Crim Div) (Hooper LJ, Gross J, Judge Moss QC)
6 July 2010

Convictions imposed on employees of a fireworks company for gross negligence manslaughter after a cameraman working for the fire service was killed during an explosion at the company's premises were safe, as it was reasonably foreseeable that a civilian employee of the fire service might come on to the site of a fire in order to film or photograph it for training purposes. The fact that the cameraman had failed to comply with instructions to leave the site did not mean that he was not owed a duty of care.

[2010] EWCA Crim 934
[2010] EWCA Crim 934
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, David Clarke J, Lloyd Jones J)
20 April 2010

In a case where a 15-year-old boy had been killed when the wall he had been demolishing unsupervised had collapsed on him, a sentence of three years' imprisonment following a guilty plea to an offence of manslaughter by gross negligence was not manifestly excessive.

[2009] EWCA Crim 650
[2009] EWCA Crim 650
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Moore-Bick LJ, Calvert Smith J, Christopher Clarke J, Holroyde J)
2 April 2009

For the purposes of the offence of gross negligence manslaughter, when a person had created or contributed to the creation of a state of affairs which he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, had become life-threatening, a consequent duty on him to act by taking reasonable steps to save the other's life would normally arise. The question of whether a duty of care existed was a question for the judge, not the jury.

[2007] EWCA Crim 3313
[2007] EWCA Crim 3313
CA (Crim Div) (Latham LJ (VP CA Crim), Cooke J, Cranston J)
12 December 2007

A conviction for manslaughter was not safe where the defendant had pleaded guilty on the basis of a now-outmoded recklessness test for gross negligence manslaughter and there was fresh evidence which, had he pleaded not guilty, might have persuaded a jury applying the current test that his fault did not amount to a degree of negligence which was criminal.

[2007] EWCA Crim 2123
[2007] EWCA Crim 2123
CA (Crim Div) (Moses LJ, Treacy J, Sir Michael Wright)
26 July 2007

A sentence of eight years' imprisonment was not manifestly excessive for an offence of manslaughter by gross negligence where the offender had driven over the victim in his heavy goods vehicle and had then done little to assist her. His callous behaviour after the incident was a serious aggravating feature in determining sentence.

[2007] EWCA Crim 790
[2007] EWCA Crim 790
CA (Crim Div) (May LJ, Butterfield J, King J)
1 March 2007

Where an offence had various ingredients and it was sufficient that only one of those ingredients be satisfied, the judge had failed to explicitly direct that the jury needed to achieve unanimity by the same route. However, his direction was only marginally deficient and convictions for manslaughter by gross negligence were safe.

[2006] EWHC 3211 (Admin)
[2006] EWHC 3211 (Admin)
DC (Waller LJ, Lloyd-Jones J)
29 December 2006

It was appropriate for the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider its decision not to prosecute individuals for gross negligence manslaughter after an employee had fallen through a roof light to his death; it was seriously arguable that a different decision might be reached if account were to be taken of the seriousness of an employer's failure to give proper instruction to an employee as to the dangers of working at heights or on roofs.

[2006] EWCA Crim 3269
[2006] EWCA Crim 3269
CA (Crim Div) (Keene LJ, Bean J, Sir Richard Curtis)
5 December 2006

A judge had failed to take sufficient account of the aggravating features of an offence and the sentence imposed had not reflected the gravity of the offence and the offender's culpability.

[2006] EWCA Crim 2570
[2006] EWCA Crim 2570
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Igor Judge (President), Goldring J, Henriques J)
4 October 2006

A suspended sentence was unduly lenient where a defendant had committed acts of gross negligence in failing to protect the health and safety of his employees.

[2005] EWCA Crim 2169
[2005] EWCA Crim 2169
CA (Crim Div) (Thomas J, Calvert-Smith J, Recorder of Cardiff)
26 August 2005

It was incumbent on all operators of minicabs and minibuses to exercise due care to see that their vehicles were frequently inspected and well-maintained. Where, as in the instant case, a deterrent sentence was not required, a sentence of four years' imprisonment was more than within the general range of sentences for manslaughter by gross negligence due to a failure to properly maintain a minibus.

[2005] EWCA Crim 1061
[2005] EWCA Crim 1061
CA (Crim Div) (Auld LJ, Judge Paget QC)
5 May 2005

Where a four year old boy had died as a result of falling into a septic tank, the resulting convictions of manslaughter by gross negligence and failure to discharge a duty contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.33 (1)(a) and s.37 (1) were not safe where there was a paucity of evidence relating to the condition of the manhole cover immediately before the accident.

[2005] UKPC 18
[2005] UKPC 18
PC (Jam) (Lord Steyn, Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Hutton, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell)
13 April 2005

In jurisdictions, such as Jamaica, where the statutory offence of causing death by reckless driving continued to co-exist along with the common law crime of manslaughter, it was important that juries should ordinarily be made aware of the existence of the lesser offence and it would be proper to charge both offences and direct the jury how to distinguish between them. The standard for a verdict of motor manslaughter was that the risk of death being caused by the manner of the driving was very high, and where a Jamaican defendant's driving did not reach that standard a conviction for causing death by dangerous driving was substituted.

[2004] EWCA Crim 3286
[2004] EWCA Crim 3286
CA (Crim Div) (Judge LJ, Rafferty J, Dobbs J)
16 December 2004

The judge had been in the best position to assess the culpability of the defendant and his co-accused employers where the defendant had driven a poorly maintained HGV knowing the brakes to be defective and had killed a pedestrian. In the circumstances, a sentence of 12 months' imprisonment following a plea of guilty to manslaughter was not unduly lenient.

[2004] EWCA Crim 3365
[2004] EWCA Crim 3365
CA (Crim Div) (Rose LJ, Douglas Brown J, Mackay J)
6 December 2004

Whilst the judge had misdirected the jury, it was not a material misdirection that rendered the conviction of the appellant, charged with gross negligence manslaughter and reckless arson, unsafe. There had been no need for recourse to gross negligence manslaughter as it had been a clear case of unlawful act manslaughter.

[2004] EWCA Crim 3305
[2004] EWCA Crim 3305
CA (Crim Div) (Maurice Kay LJ, Davis J, Judge John Griffith Williams QC)
2 December 2004

A sentence of 11 years' detention whilst severe, was not manifestly excessive for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter, where the appellant had driven in an erratic and dangerous way, and for such a prolonged period, as to put numerous people at grave risk of danger. It was a misjudgement by the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer the sentence, as no point of law or information, not raised in previous proceedings was identified.

[2004] EWCA Crim 2629
[2004] EWCA Crim 2629
CA (Crim Div) (Judge LJ, Bell J, Moses J)
14 October 2004

Convictions for gross negligence manslaughter could not be regarded as safe where the judge had failed to summarise the appellants' defence when summing up. Further, the acquittal of a co-defendant rendered the verdicts inconsistent.

[2003] EWHC 693 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 693 (Admin)
DC (Kennedy LJ, Hooper J)
4 April 2003

In deciding whether to bring a prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter, once it could be shown that there had been ordinary common law negligence causative of death and a serious risk of death, the only element left to be established was criminality or "badness". That was an element which required all the circumstances to be taken into account, many of which might cast light on the defendant's state of mind and might, if appropriate, be taken into account in the defendant's favour.

DC (Buxton LJ, Moses J)
23 March 2000

The Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to prosecute a company and its managing director for gross negligence manslaughter was quashed on judicial review. The Director of Public Prosecutions was ordered to reconsider his decision because he had ignored relevant considerations and had wrongly applied a subjective test when considering whether a conviction was possible.

CA (Crim Div) (Rose LJ, Potts J, Curtis J)
15 February 2000

The defendant could be convicted of gross negligence manslaughter in the absence of evidence as to state of mind. In the absence of evidence establishing the guilt of an identified human individual for the same crime, a non-human defendant could not be convicted of the crime of manslaughter by gross negligence. The identification principle remained the only basis in common law for corporate liability for gross negligence manslaughter.

QBD (Crown Office List) (Turner J)
20 October 1999

A decision whether or not to bring a prosecution would only rarely be the subject of a successful application for judicial review. There was no arguable case that the decisions made by the Crown Prosecution Service or the Director of Public Prosecutions were other than entirely appropriate and correct and there was no evidence that those decisions were verging on the absurd or perverse.

Relevant case law in relation to health and safety enforcement

[2020] EWCA Crim 1635
[2020] EWCA Crim 1635
CA (Crim Div) (Andrews LJ, Cutts J, Judge Burbidge QC)
3 December 2020

Fresh evidence did not undermine the safety of an offender's conviction for one offence of failing to comply with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 Pt 4 reg.19(1) and two offences contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following an incident where the roof of a building had collapsed during a construction project. There was a wealth of evidence that the offender was the person in control of the work for the purposes of reg.16, and that he was the "employer" for the purposes of the Act.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1691
[2019] EWCA Crim 1691
CA (Crim Div) (Davis LJ, William Davis J, Julian Knowles J)
11 October 2019

A fine imposed on a subsidiary company for an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3(1) was reduced where the sentencing judge had improperly taken into account the parent company's turnover and resources when applying an uplift to the starting point reached under the Sentencing Guideline for Health and Safety Offences, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety and Hygiene Offences. The court considered the proper application of the Guideline.

[2019] EWCA Crim 1380
[2019] EWCA Crim 1380
CA (Crim Div) (Nicola Davies LJ, Phillips J, Julian Knowles J)
11 July 2019

A fine of £700,000 imposed against a company for offences of failing to ensure the safety of its employees contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1), was well within the range provided in the relevant sentencing guideline; the fine was imposed for the first offence, with no separate penalty imposed for the second, and the judge treated the circumstances of the second offence as an aggravating factor of the first. The nature of the offending, both the original offence giving rise to a wholly avoidable and tragic death and the subsequent failure to put the machine concerned into a safe condition, demanded a fine of the size imposed.

[2019] EWCA Crim 520
[2019] EWCA Crim 520
CA (Crim Div) (Gross LJ, Sweeney J, Sir Kenneth Parker)
28 March 2019

The court examined the level of fines imposed on a car parts manufacturing company following an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease and an explosion on its premises.

[2019] EWCA Crim 227
[2019] EWCA Crim 227
CA (Crim Div) (Leggatt LJ, Cutts J, Judge Wall QC)
26 February 2019

A company's conviction under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1) for breach of its duty towards its employees by failing to do all that was reasonably practicable to protect them from exposure to asbestos was well-founded and was not unsafe. However, the fine of £400,000 imposed was manifestly excessive and the appropriate sentence was a fine of £190,000.

CC (Leicester) (Judge Hampton)
23 January 2019

A gas engineer was entitled to damages from his employer for an ankle injury sustained after falling into a hole at work. Although there had been a degree of overstatement of his pain and its effect on him, the claimant had not been fundamentally dishonest. He had merely engaged in such conduct in order to convince, rather than deceive, medical experts as to his injury following the employer's vigorous attempts to avoid fully compensating him.

[2018] EWCA Crim 1944
[2018] EWCA Crim 1944
CA (Crim Div) (Simon LJ, Sweeney J, Goss J)
23 August 2018

There had been no inconsistency in convicting a company of failing to ensure that work at height was properly planned contrary to the Work at Height Regulations 2005 reg.4(1) and acquitting it of failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practical, the health and safety of its employees. The judge had been wrong to assess culpability as being high; the fine imposed was reduced from £900,000 to £135,000.

[2018] EWCA Crim 752
[2018] EWCA Crim 752
CA (Crim Div) (Gross LJ, Elisabeth Laing J, Phillips J)
13 April 2018

The court emphasised that while a basis of plea and sensible agreement between parties was encouraged and expected to be weighed carefully by the court before departing from it, such agreement was not binding on the court as a matter of constitutional principle. However, in the instant case, the sentencing judge had had no sufficient justification for departing from the parties' agreement, and a fine of £475,000 following a company's guilty plea to an offence under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 reg.3(1)(a) was reduced to £200,000.

[2018] UKSC 7
[2018] UKSC 7
SC (Lord Mance DPSC, Lord Sumption JSC, Lord Reed JSC, Lord Hodge JSC, Lady Black JSC)
8 February 2018

On an appeal under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.24 against a prohibition notice, the employment tribunal was entitled to take into account all the available evidence relevant to the state of affairs at the time the notice was served, including information coming to light afterwards.

[2018] EWCA Crim 69
[2018] EWCA Crim 69
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Martin Spencer J, Sir John Saunders)
30 January 2018

The court refused permission to appeal against a ruling, at a preparatory hearing, that two individual partners in a hotel business had a case to answer for strict liability offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3 following the death of a guest who had accidentally fallen out of a window. It also concluded that the issue of whether the individual partners were employers for the purposes of s.3 should be left to the jury to decide.

[2017] EWCA Crim 2186
[2017] EWCA Crim 2186
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Burnett LCJ, Teare J, Kerr J)
20 December 2017

The court considered the definitive sentencing guideline on corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food and safety hygiene offences when significantly reducing the fine imposed on a company following the death of a contractor on its premises. The company, a "very large organisation" for the purposes of the guideline, had pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3(1) which occurred in unusual circumstances and involved low culpability and a low likelihood of harm.

CA (Crim Div) (Edis J, Recorder of Leeds)
21 June 2017

A sentence of eight months' imprisonment was not manifestly excessive where the owner of a hotel had pleaded guilty to five breaches of fire safety laws that had taken place over a long period of time. It was not appropriate to use newspaper reports in court as evidence of sentences for similar breaches as they were not full or authorised reports of the cases.

[2017] NICA 29
[2017] NICA 29
CA (NI) (Gillen LJ, Weir LJ, Stephens J)
18 May 2017

A suspended sentence of 15 months' imprisonment imposed on a building contractor for gross negligence manslaughter was unduly lenient. Cases where employees were required to work from dangerous heights with an obvious potential for serious or fatal consequences if they were not protected required deterrent sentences. Furthermore, there had been no basis for suspending the sentence in the instant case.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2142
[2016] EWCA Crim 2142
CA (Crim Div) (Simon LJ, Haddon-Cave J, Judge Moss QC)
21 December 2016

A judge had erred in adopting too high a starting point and in failing to apply any reduction for mitigating factors when imposing a fine on a company following its guilty plea to failing to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.33(1)(c).

[2016] EWHC 1701 (Admin)
[2016] EWHC 1701 (Admin)
DC (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, McGowan J)
15 July 2016

A fire authority's decision to retain the conduct of an investigation following a serious fire in a social housing tower block did not give rise to a perception of bias, notwithstanding that the fire authority was responsible for the operation and organisation of the brigade which had been subject to criticism for its actions. In particular, a decision whether to prosecute the local authority for potential breaches of the Regulation Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 would be taken by a solicitor from a different part of the fire authority's structure, with no direct link to the fire and rescue role of the fire authority.

[2016] EWCA Crim 101
[2016] EWCA Crim 101
CA (Crim Div) (McCombe LJ, Patterson J, Judge Batty QC)
21 January 2016

A fine of £600,000 imposed on a company following the death of a lorry driver visiting one of its sites was upheld. The breach of duty was serious and the company had the financial resources to pay the fine.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1620
[2015] EWCA Crim 1620
CA (Crim Div) (Sharp LJ, Wilkie J, Lang J)
13 October 2015

A judge had not erred in refusing a submission of no case to answer in respect of health and safety offences committed by a company specialising in traffic management designs for UK airports. Following the death of a pedestrian hit by a lorry while crossing an airport access road, it was for the jury to consider the company's argument that there was insufficient evidence of material risk.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2684
[2014] EWCA Crim 2684
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Sweeney J, Judge Boney QC)
19 December 2014

In a case in which a road managing agent and its subcontractor had been convicted of health and safety at work offences centring on their failure to undertake a sufficient risk assessment before designing a traffic management system, the judge had been entitled to direct the jury that it had to find that the system posed a "material" risk to road users. He did not have to further define the concept of material risk, and he did not have to contrast real and fanciful risks.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1522
[2014] EWCA Crim 1522
CA (Crim Div) (Fulford LJ, Foskett J, Judge Ford QC (Recorder of Bristol))
18 July 2014

The creation of a material risk by the carelessness of an employee remained a material risk for the purpose of the offence of failing so far as reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of employees contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.33(1)(a).

[2014] EWHC 2126 (Admin)
[2014] EWHC 2126 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Collins J)
4 July 2014

An employment tribunal had been wrong to uphold the issue of a prohibition notice served on the appellant company under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.22 in relation to exposed conductors found at a construction site. The inspectors who had issued the notice should have allowed the company the opportunity to show that the conductors were not live; safety in the meantime could have been ensured by a direction under s.20(2)(e) that the relevant room and its contents should be left undisturbed.

[2014] EWCA Crim 1232
[2014] EWCA Crim 1232
CA (Crim Div) (McCombe LJ, Nicol J, Judge Goldstone QC (Recorder of Liverpool) )
5 June 2014

A sentence of 16 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, was not manifestly excessive where a landlord had pleaded guilty to failing to maintain gas appliances which had caused a tenant's death from carbon monoxide poisoning, and had injured a second tenant and a neighbour.

Crown Ct (Bristol) (Simon J)
13 March 2014

The test for "impropriety", justifying the making of a wasted costs order, was the rigorous test set out in Ridehalgh v Horsefield [1994] Ch. 205; it required "conduct which would be regarded as improper according to the consensus of professional (including judicial) opinion". In the instant case, the discontinuance of manslaughter charges by the Crown Prosecution Service and the fact that the court found that there was no case to answer in relation to a subsequent health-and-safety charge did not justify the making of a wasted costs order against the CPS.

[2014] EWCA Crim 533
[2014] EWCA Crim 533
CA (Crim Div) (Elias LJ, Cranston J, Globe J)
26 February 2014

A fine of £50,000 imposed on a company following its plea of guilty to failing to discharge the duty imposed by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1) was justified. Although there was no evidence of the company putting profit before safety or any wilful disregard of safety procedures or warnings, a significant fine was called for because there was a total absence of any consideration of safety procedures, risk assessments, training or supervision.

[2014] EWCA Crim 49
[2014] EWCA Crim 49
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Thomas LCJ, Mittings J, Thirlwall J)
17 January 2014

When dismissing appeals by two companies regarding the level of fines imposed for environmental protection and safety offences, the court considered the appropriate approach to the fixing of fines and the level of fine to be imposed.

[2012] EWCA Crim 2670
[2012] EWCA Crim 2670
CA (Crim Div) (Gross LJ, Griffith Williams J, Sweeney J)
13 December 2012

A fine of £350, 015 was appropriate in the case of a company which operated a historic building as a tourist attraction and had been convicted of health and safety failures resulting in the death of a visitor who had fallen from a bridge. Although the company had generally good heath and safety systems, its failures in relation to the bridge had been such as to create a foreseeable risk of serious injury.

[2012] EWCA Crim 3074
[2012] EWCA Crim 3074
CA (Crim Div) (Dobbs J, Judge Jacobs Recorder of Norwich)
29 November 2012

Although a suspended custodial sentence imposed in respect of multiple breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was not wrong in principle given the offender's history of failure to comply with previous assessments and enforcement notices, the unpaid work requirement of 200 hours was manifestly excessive given the offender's circumstances and was reduced to 100 hours.

[2012] EWCA Crim 1226
[2012] EWCA Crim 1226
CA (Crim Div) (Hallett LJ, Hedley J, Calvert-Smith J)
22 May 2012

A judge had been correct in concluding that it was for the jury to consider whether the requisite material risk of danger had been established in the trial of a building contractor for offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1) and s.3(1) relating to the removal of asbestos from a department store.

[2011] EWCA Crim 2015
[2011] EWCA Crim 2015
CA (Crim Div) (Hughes LJ (Vice President), Andrew Smith J, Walker J)
19 August 2011

The Court of Appeal gave guidance on the effects of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2 and s.3.

[2011] EWHC 1245 (QB)
[2011] EWHC 1245 (QB)
QBD (Slade J)
18 May 2011

An employment judge had erred in concluding that it was not reasonably practicable for a statutory authority to serve notices of appeal against 10 improvement notices within time. The authority had had expert legal advice, knew of the relevant time limits and would not have been prejudiced in respect of an impending criminal investigation into incidents arising out of the same subject-matter by issuing its appeal notices.

[2011] EWCA Crim 1337
[2011] EWCA Crim 1337
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Beatson J, Bean J)
11 May 2011

A fine which had the effect of putting a company out of business might be an acceptable consequence of a conviction for corporate manslaughter.

[2010] EWCA Crim 1225
[2010] EWCA Crim 1225
CA (Crim Div) (Hooper LJ, Andrew Smith J, Irwin J)
25 May 2010

A judge had not erred in imposing a fine of £666,667 on a rail network infrastructure controller following its plea of guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3 following an accident in which two rail workers died.

[2010] EWCA Crim 495
[2010] EWCA Crim 495
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Roderick Evans J, Griffith Williams J)
2 March 2010

The duty of a parent to supervise his child was concurrent with the duty of an employer to conduct its undertaking so as to ensure that persons not in its employment were not exposed to health or safety risks. Where a parent had breached his duty to supervise his child at a swimming pool, that did not absolve the swimming pool operator from responsibility when the child suffered severe brain damage after almost drowning.

[2009] EWCA Crim 2846
[2009] EWCA Crim 2846
CA (Crim Div) (Aikens LJ, Field J, Judge Stephens QC)
21 December 2009

A fine of £100,000 imposed on the senior partner of a small family vehicle recovery business, following his guilty plea to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1) that had resulted in an employee's death was reduced to £60,000 because insufficient account had been taken of the offender's means to pay.

[2009] EWCA Crim 1942
[2009] EWCA Crim 1942
CA (Crim Div) (Dyson LJ, Davis J, Lloyd Jones J)
8 October 2009

It might be appropriate, in health and safety prosecutions in the Crown Court, at all events when the matter was not the subject of an early plea, for a judge to be nominated at an early stage to manage the case to trial. That should be done in all cases involving death or very serious injury and in any other cases where there was potential complexity.

[2009] EWCA Crim 655
[2009] EWCA Crim 655
CA (Crim Div) (Moses LJ, Hedley J, Judge Russell Recorder of Preston)
7 April 2009

A casual worker who had been working on the building of a house extension was sufficiently controlled by his employer to qualify as an employee under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.53. Accordingly, the employer was liable for offences under s.33(1)(a) and s.33(1)(c) when the worker suffered severe brain injuries when he fell from a raised platform at the site.

[2008] UKHL 73
[2008] UKHL 73
HL (Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury)
10 December 2008

In proceedings brought under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1) and s.3(1), the prosecution only had to prove that the result described in those sections had not been achieved or prevented. A prima facie case of breach had then been established, unless the defendant could make good the reasonable practicability defence. Prosecutors had to do more than simply assert that a state of affairs existed, but they did not have to identify and prove specific breaches of duty; the overriding test was whether or not defendants had been given fair notice of the claim against them.

[2008] EWCA Crim 1963
[2008] EWCA Crim 1963
CA (Crim Div) (Gage LJ, Stadlen J, Judge Bevan QC)
29 July 2008

Respective fines of £250,000 and £75,000 imposed on a large warehousing and distribution company for its breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 reg.3(1), which had resulted in an employee's death, were manifestly excessive and were substituted with fines of £225,000 and £50,000 respectively, as too little responsibility had been placed on the co-defendant who had been the immediate cause of the death.

[2008] EWCA Crim 1223
[2008] EWCA Crim 1223
CA (Crim Div) (Hughes LJ, Teare J, Saunders J)
10 June 2008

A judge did not have the jurisdiction to rule that there was no case to answer before any of the Crown evidence had been heard even though the form of the evidence was clear.

[2007] EWCA Crim 3032
[2007] EWCA Crim 3032
CA (Crim Div) (Latham LJ, Gibbs J, Lloyd Jones J)
13 December 2007

Where a worker had been killed when the dumper truck he was driving overturned the prosecution had established that there was a risk to the health and safety of employees and therefore the onus, under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.40, was on the worker's employer and the undertaker of the project to prove they had done all that was reasonably practicable to avoid that risk.

[2007] EWCA Crim 2758
[2007] EWCA Crim 2758
CA (Crim Div) (Hallett LJ, Grigson J, Judge Goddard QC)
10 October 2007

A judge had placed too much emphasis on apportionment of liability and had failed to take sufficient account of culpability and financial means when imposing a fine and costs on a company that had breached the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.2(1).

[2007] EWCA Crim 1537
[2007] EWCA Crim 1537
CA (Crim Div) (Toulson LJ, Walker J, Judge Wadsworth QC)
13 June 2007

A fine of £150,000 imposed on the defendant company, following its guilty pleas to breaches of health and safety law, was manifestly excessive since it had co-operated fully with the Health and Safety Executive, had entered guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity, had taken steps to improve health and safety procedures and was genuinely remorseful.

[2007] EWCA Crim 790
[2007] EWCA Crim 790
CA (Crim Div) (May LJ, Butterfield J, King J)
1 March 2007

Where an offence had various ingredients and it was sufficient that only one of those ingredients be satisfied, the judge had failed to explicitly direct that the jury needed to achieve unanimity by the same route. However, his direction was only marginally deficient and convictions for manslaughter by gross negligence were safe.

[2006] EWHC 3211 (Admin)
[2006] EWHC 3211 (Admin)
DC (Waller LJ, Lloyd-Jones J)
29 December 2006

It was appropriate for the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider its decision not to prosecute individuals for gross negligence manslaughter after an employee had fallen through a roof light to his death; it was seriously arguable that a different decision might be reached if account were to be taken of the seriousness of an employer's failure to give proper instruction to an employee as to the dangers of working at heights or on roofs.

[2006] EWHC 3204 (Admin)
[2006] EWHC 3204 (Admin)
DC (Richards LJ, Forbes J, Mackay J)
14 December 2006

The decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether or not to prosecute would be lawful if it was taken in accordance with the DPP's code, which included both evidential and public interest considerations, and it was a decision reasonably open to the decision-maker on the material before him. Where the decision was lawfully made, it would not violate the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 Art.2 .

[2006] EWCA Crim 2971
[2006] EWCA Crim 2971
CA (Crim Div) (Gage LJ, Jack J, Judge McKinnon)
14 November 2006

A fine of £100,000 for a hospital trust's failure to discharge its duty to persons not in its employment under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3(1) was reduced to £40,000 as the judge had failed to take sufficient account of the mitigating features and the fact that the trust was a public body.

[2006] EWCA Crim 2570
[2006] EWCA Crim 2570
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Igor Judge (President), Goldring J, Henriques J)
4 October 2006

A suspended sentence was unduly lenient where a defendant had committed acts of gross negligence in failing to protect the health and safety of his employees.

[2006] EWCA Crim 1586
[2006] EWCA Crim 1586
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Phillips LCJ, Nelson J, Silber J)
5 July 2006

It was appropriate in the interest of proportionality to reduce the fine imposed on a rail track maintenance contractor for its failure to discharge its duty as an employer under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3, which had been a cause of the Hatfield rail disaster, where there was a huge disparity between the fine imposed on the contractor and the fine imposed on the codefendant rail network owner.

[2006] EWCA Crim 838
[2006] EWCA Crim 838
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Phillips LCJ, Andrew Smith J, Judge Wilkie)
28 March 2006

Where a defendant company had pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.3 , contrary to s.33(1)(a) of that Act, the sentence of a large fine was excessive, having regard to the facts of the case, and in the light of the judge's indication that a fine following a guilty plea would be less than that sum.

[2006] EWCA Civ 169
[2006] EWCA Civ 169
CA (Civ Div) (Buxton LJ, Jonathan Parker LJ, Wall LJ)
8 March 2006

The judge had been plainly right to find that a former secretary's upper limb disorder was a work-related injury, that her employer had been in breach of statutory duty under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 , and that the injury had been caused by those breaches of statutory duty.

[2005] EWCA Crim 1061
[2005] EWCA Crim 1061
CA (Crim Div) (Auld LJ, Judge Paget QC)
5 May 2005

Where a four year old boy had died as a result of falling into a septic tank, the resulting convictions of manslaughter by gross negligence and failure to discharge a duty contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 s.33 (1)(a) and s.37 (1) were not safe where there was a paucity of evidence relating to the condition of the manhole cover immediately before the accident.

[2003] EWHC 2934 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 2934 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Stanley Burnton J)
10 December 2003

The Health and Safety Executive had been correct in deciding not to prosecute under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. On the facts there was no reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution against the proposed defendants for the death of a child caused by a vandalised door falling on him on a housing estate.

[2003] EWCA Crim 3436
[2003] EWCA Crim 3436
CA (Crim Div) (Tuckey LJ, Elias J, Cooke J)
27 November 2003

In the absence of any express indications, the transfer of liabilities between an old and a new NHS Trust did not include the transfer of criminal liability.

[2003] EWCA Crim 458
[2003] EWCA Crim 458
CA (Crim Div) (Longmore LJ, Sachs J, Davis J)
26 February 2003

A fine totalling £100,000 for health and safety at work-related offences was reduced to a total of £55,000 on appeal after taking into account: (i) the offending company's culpability; (ii) the extent of any criminal default; and (iii) by reference to the mitigating and offending factors contained in F Howe & Son (Engineers Limited (1999) 2 All ER 249.

[2003] EWHC 233 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 233 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Harrison J)
11 February 2003

In the absence of any other evidence, the court could infer that the only possible cause of an injury to the claimant's finger was a faulty magnetic catch and a protruding screw.

[2002] EWCA Crim 2067
[2002] EWCA Crim 2067
CA (Crim Div) (Rix LJ, Sir Ian Kennedy, Judge Crowther QC)
19 July 2002

The trial judge had erred in admitting documentary evidence in the form of questionnaires under s.24 Criminal Justice Act 1988 and as a result convictions under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 were unsafe.

[2002] EWHC 566 (Admin)
[2002] EWHC 566 (Admin)
DC (Wright J, Lord Woolf of Barnes LCJ)
19 March 2002

It was inappropriate and wrong for the Health and Safety Executive to prosecute under s.6 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 when there was an offence under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 SI 1992/3037 covering exactly the same ground in different language and imposing a different penalty. * Leave to appeal to the House of Lords granted.

[2002] EWHC 473 (Admin)
[2002] EWHC 473 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Silber J)
8 March 2002

A local authority was entitled to issue summonses under the Food Safety Act 1990 in its own name rather than in the name of an individual.

[2001] EWCA Crim 1797
[2001] EWCA Crim 1797
CA (Crim Div) (Henry LJ, Butterfield J, Judge Rivlin QC)
30 July 2001

The impartiality of a jury was to be presumed until there was proof to the contrary.

[2001] EWHC Admin 190
[2001] EWHC Admin 190
DC (Rose LJ, Sullivan J)
6 March 2001

The mens rea for the offence of permitting employee bus drivers to exceed the maximum driving period without a break required more than mere negligence, as a subjective element in the mind of the person alleged to have permitted the offence was required.

[2001] EWHC Admin 78
[2001] EWHC Admin 78
QBD (Admin) (Sullivan J)
18 January 2001

The Deputy Chief Inspector of the Railways had the power, under s.22 Health and Safety and Work Act 1974, to serve a notice which prohibited activities even though they had ceased following a serious rail accident.

HL (Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Steyn, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Clyde, Lord Millett)
29 November 2000

The layout of a house could not, without more, fall within the statutory words "state of the premises" in s.79(1)(a) Environmental Protection Act 1990.

DC (Judge LJ, Rafferty J)
18 June 2000

The applicant had failed to demonstrate that it was appropriate for the court to interfere with the decision of the respondent's professional conduct committee refusing to restore the applicant to the register of nurses.

CA (Crim Div) (Rose LJ, Jowitt J, Hallett J)
22 May 2000

Appeal against a fine of #75,000 for an offence of failure to ensure the safety of an employee at work contrary to s.2 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.The Court of Appeal held that since the accident had occurred as a result of the appellant's oversight and was not a deliberate failure to ensure adequate safety precautions, the sentence would be quashed and substituted with a more appropriate fine of #40,000.

DC (Lord Bingham of Cornhill LCJ, Astill J)
5 April 2000

Where a prosecuting authority had been misled as to the identity of the proper defendant, delay in the laying of informations and/or the service of a summons did not constitute an abuse of process.

Crown Ct (Manchester) (Penry-Davey J)
24 March 2000

The system of using limited clearance single-post telephones in between railway tracks created an obvious danger. The defendant had knowledge of the creation of an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of those using the tracks and failed to act promptly or adequately to reduce or eliminate that risk.

DC (Buxton LJ, Moses J)
23 March 2000

The Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to prosecute a company and its managing director for gross negligence manslaughter was quashed on judicial review. The Director of Public Prosecutions was ordered to reconsider his decision because he had ignored relevant considerations and had wrongly applied a subjective test when considering whether a conviction was possible.

HCJ (Lord Cullen LJC, Lord Cowie, Lord Weir)
16 March 2000

A company charged with the contamination of a public water supply would not be denied a fair trial when the jurors were drawn from the area affected by the contamination because the water supply was only interrupted for a short period and the usual practical steps to ensure the jury's impartiality could be taken.

DC (Judge LJ, Wright J)
16 March 2000

Appellant company lost appeal by way of case stated against level of fine imposed by magistrates for breaches of s.2 and s.3 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The appeal should have gone to the Crown Court because there the appellant did not have to discharge the heavy burden that the magistrates had acted outwith their jurisdiction.

CA (Crim Div) (Beldam LJ, Silber J, Judge Brian Walsh QC)
10 March 2000

A pet food company successfully appealed against a #600,000 fine for a Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 offence where the judge had wrongly sentenced on the basis that the company had put profit before safety.

CA (Crim Div) (Pill LJ, Rougier J, Newman J)
26 January 2000

Successful appeal against conviction upon a guilty plea at Swansea Crown Court in March 1999, to an offence contravening reg.13(2)(a) Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994. That regulation covered only the actual preparation of designs, not arranging other companies to prepare designs.

Relevant case law in relation to coroner’s inquests

[2020] EWCA Civ 1375
[2020] EWCA Civ 1375
CA (Civ Div) (Lewison LJ, Flaux LJ, Males LJ)
27 October 2020

The court considered the meaning of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013 r.18 and reinstated a coroner's ruling that, at the inquest of a 43-year-old black man who had died shortly after being in police custody, the police officers could give their evidence from behind screens. The coroner had not failed to appreciate the importance of the open justice principle in making the decision.

[2019] EWHC 1100 (Admin)
[2019] EWHC 1100 (Admin)
DC (Irwin LJ, Jay J)
8 May 2019

A fresh inquest was ordered under the Coroners Act 1988 s.13(1)(b) into the death of a 14-year-old child in 1966, as new evidence was available which rendered a further inquest necessary and desirable in the interests of justice.

[2016] NIQB 94
[2016] NIQB 94
QBD (NI) (Horner J)
5 December 2016

The Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 s.35(3) only placed a requirement on a coroner to make a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions where "the circumstances of the death being investigated" disclosed that an offence might have been committed. There was no requirement to report wrongdoing unrelated to the circumstances of death.

[2014] EWHC 4886 (Fam)
[2014] EWHC 4886 (Fam)
Fam Div (Carlisle) (Peter Jackson J)
28 March 2014

The court expressed concerns about the professional response to the death of a 13-month-old child who had died suddenly and in unexplained circumstances whilst in her parents' care. In particular, it criticised the police failure to undertake any real investigation until nine months after the child's death and the local authority's failure to take legal advice and start proceedings for a similar period. Those failures affected the court's ability to make findings of fact about the cause of the death during care proceedings.

[2012] NICA 47
[2012] NICA 47
CA (NI) (Morgan LCJ, Girvan LJ, Higgins LJ)
17 October 2012

Guidance was given on the factors to be taken into account by a court when considering whether an applicant seeking to quash a coroner's procedural ruling had established that the ruling would result in the inquest being one which was not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.2.

[2012] EWHC 2755 (Admin)
[2012] EWHC 2755 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Foskett J, Judge Peter Thornton QC)
11 October 2012

The verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest could be returned only where death had resulted from murder, manslaughter (including corporate manslaughter) and infanticide. Driving offences causing death could not justify such a verdict.

[2011] EWCA Crim 2796
[2011] EWCA Crim 2796
CA (Crim Div) (Lord Judge LCJ, Royce J, Globe J)
1 December 2011

It was not necessary for judges passing sentence for diminished responsibility manslaughter to set out an exact arithmetical computation of the sentence which would have been passed for a murder conviction. Whether or not the computation was set out, it provided a helpful method of approach, identifying the aggravating and mitigating features, and then applying an appropriate discount for the defendant's reduced level of culpability. That was a fact-specific decision, to be made by the judge, consistently with the medical evidence and the jury verdict, and then publicly explained.

[2011] EWHC 1453 (Admin)
[2011] EWHC 1453 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Hickinbottom J)
9 June 2011

There was no real and immediate risk to the life of a vulnerable adult, within the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 art.2, which either a local authority or a police service knew or ought reasonably to have known about before he was killed by a man about whom the vulnerable adult had made a number of criminal complaints against.

[2010] EWHC 328 (Admin)
[2010] EWHC 328 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Burnett J)
23 February 2010

A coroner who had conducted an inquest into the death in custody of a teenage boy had to recuse himself from presiding over a fresh inquest into the death as he had previously expressed decided views on matters which would be important in the later inquest.

[2009] EWHC 2681 (Admin)
[2009] EWHC 2681 (Admin)
DC (Laws LJ, Tugendhat J)
30 July 2009

The court gave guidance as to the way in which a coroner should exercise his discretion under the Coroners Rules 1984 r.7(4) to permit the Independent Police Complaints Commission to attend a post-mortem which the coroner had directed.

[2006] EWCA Civ 1343
[2006] EWCA Civ 1343
CA (Civ Div) (Pill LJ, Arden LJ)
17 October 2006

The United Kingdom's duty under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 Art.2 to investigate a suicide at a young offender institution had been discharged without there having been a full public inquiry.

[2006] EWHC 1 (Admin)
[2006] EWHC 1 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Bennett J)
16 January 2006

An inquest was the normal method, absent an exceptional set of circumstances, of the state discharging its investigative obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 Art.2 where there had been a death of a prisoner in custody; where an inquest did not bring within its scope sentencing policy and broad issues of government funding or policy, it was not incumbent upon the state under Art.2 to set up a public inquiry.

[2005] EWCA Civ 967
[2005] EWCA Civ 967
CA (Civ Div) (Buxton LJ, Scott Baker LJ)
13 July 2005

Permission to appeal against a decision to quash an inquest verdict of unlawful killing was not granted where the coroner had not applied the correct test to the particular case of self defence when evaluating whether it was safe to leave a rejection of self defence to the jury and where on the facts of the case the verdict of unlawful killing should not have been left to the jury.

[2005] EWHC 857 (Admin)
[2005] EWHC 857 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Leveson J)
12 May 2005

A verdict of unlawful killing was quashed as the evidence was such that a coroner's jury would have had difficulty in being able to safely conclude, beyond reasonable doubt, that the claimant chief inspector had not discharged his firearm in the honest belief, however mistaken, that a fellow officer was under imminent threat of being shot.

[2004] EWHC 2729 (Admin)
[2004] EWHC 2729 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Collins J)
26 November 2004

In the case of a patient who died after being restrained by the police while awaiting medical attention, the coroner had not erred in leaving the question of unlawful killing to the jury, but his direction to the jury about causation had been sufficiently confusing to render the verdict unjust.

[2004] EWCA Civ 1439
[2004] EWCA Civ 1439
CA (Civ Div) (Mummery LJ, Maurice Kay LJ, Gage LJ)
2 November 2004

On an application by a witness for anonymity on the basis of safety fears, there had to be reasonable grounds that showed that the witness's fears were objectively justified.

[2003] EWHC 1721 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 1721 (Admin)
DC (Rose LJ, Henriques J)
4 July 2003

A coroner had an obligation to consider whether the State's investigative duties under Art.2 European Convention on Human Rights had been complied with, and that obligation existed even if the Human Rights Act 1998 had not been in force at the date of the death. The coroner had erred in holding that there was no evidence upon which it could be argued that the police and local authority had failed to fulfil their investigative duties under Art.2.

[2002] EWHC 1877 (Admin)
[2002] EWHC 1877 (Admin)
DC (Lord Woolf of Barnes LCJ, Curtis J)
29 July 2002

Where the coroner refused to allow the prison officer responsible for the cancellation of a 15-minute watch to be called to give evidence, there had been insufficiency of inquiry.

[2002] UKHL 25
[2002] UKHL 25
HL (NI) (Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Woolf, Lord Nolan, Lord Hutton, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough)
20 June 2002

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission had the capacity to make submissions on human rights law and practice applicable in Northern Ireland if so permitted or invited by courts or tribunals concerned with issues of such law and practice.

[2002] EWCA Civ 390
[2002] EWCA Civ 390
CA (Civ Div) (Lord Woolf of Barnes LCJ, Laws LJ, Dyson LJ)
27 March 2002

Public scrutiny and the involvement of a deceased's next of kin were not requirements that needed to be discharged for a State to fulfill its duty to investigate a death under Art.2 European Convention on Human Rights. An inquest jury could give a verdict of neglect when necessary so as to comply with Art.2 of the Convention. * Leave to appeal to the House of Lords granted.

[2001] EWHC Admin 922
[2001] EWHC Admin 922
QBD (Admin) (Rose LJ, Sullivan J)
8 November 2001

A successful application for judicial review of a verdict that a man who died in police custody died by misadventure where the coroner's reasons for not allowing the deceased's family's medical evidence could not be sustained.

[2001] EWHC Admin 804
[2001] EWHC Admin 804
QBD (Admin) (Hooper J)
22 October 2001

An unsuccessful application for judicial review of a coroner's jury's verdict of accidental death where the deceased died in police custody after swallowing a substantial quantity of crack cocaine.

[2001] EWHC Admin 352
[2001] EWHC Admin 352
QBD (Admin) (Jackson J)
9 April 2001

A coroner need not leave all possible verdicts to a jury, it was sufficient for him to leave those verdicts which realistically reflected the thrust of the evidence as a whole, and on that basis he could not be criticised for not leaving a particular verdict to the jury. The European Court jurisprudence required a modest adjustment of the Gough test. The court must first ascertain all the circumstances that had a bearing on the suggestion of bias and it must then ask whether those circumstances would lead a fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real possibility, or a real danger, the two being the same, that the tribunal was biased.

DC (Laws LJ, Silber J)
8 May 2000

The respondents were not entitled to escape liability for contempt of court by reason of the fact that the full amount of expenses they would incur in attending a coroner's inquiry had not been tendered to them.

QBD (Newman J)
7 April 2000

In an application for judicial review where a coroner returned a verdict of unlawful killing, had the coroner not left the option of unlawful killing to the jury he would have usurped its function. Accordingly, the application for judicial review was refused.

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