Health & Safety, Fire Safety and Building Safety, Housing and HMOs

Members of Chambers are regularly instructed to appear in the most serious and high-profile cases, including corporate and gross negligence manslaughter, across the broad range of health & safety, fire safety, and building and housing safety law. We consider that the breadth and depth of the regulatory specialisms within chambers, at all levels from silk to junior junior, including our well-established expertise in consumer and food crime and commercial and financial matters significantly strengthen what we are able to offer our clients in this practice area.

We advise and act for individuals, companies, local authorities and other regulatory authorities and the CPS in relation to investigations, enforcement actions and proceedings across the civil, criminal and appellate courts, and at tribunals, inquiries and inquests.

We are regularly instructed to act for Very Large Organisations, including  national supermarkets and retailers, transport, waste and construction companies as well as for small business, sole traders and individuals, including on a Direct Access basis. We are acutely aware of the need to provide discrete, timely and commercially sensitive advice, in particular in relation to managing and mitigating the potential reputational consequences of an investigation or prosecution.

Collectively we represent an extraordinarily broad spectrum of regulators, including central government, the HSE, ORR, FSA, National Trading Standards and local authorities. Members of Chambers are on the lists of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in Health & Safety and Environmental law.

We have well established expertise in relation to private prosecutions and advising on primary authority arrangements.

  • Health & safety

    We act for regulators, individuals and businesses in relation to all aspects of health & safety law across a range of sectors, including construction, hospitality, retail & leisure, transport and roads and railways. Our members have considerable experience in relation to enforcement investigations and appeals against enforcement notices, prosecutions, inquests and inquiries, and are happy to assist at any stage of an investigation or prosecution or to advise on regulatory compliance more generally.

    Recent instructions include:

    • R (HSE) v Costain plc, Galiford Try and Caulfields Contractors Ltd (trial in 2022 due for retrial in 2024) – a multi-handed prosecution arising from a fatal accident during the ‘smart motorway’ improvements to the M1.
    • R (HSE) v Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Limited and others (2022) – a recycling site in Birmingham in which which five agency workers died. All defendants were convicted. Mr Justice Sweeting sentenced the companies operating the site to fines totalling £1.6m and their directors to 9 months’ immediate custody.
    • R (ORR) v Malcom Limited (2022) – a prosecution in relation to the death of an 11 year old boy by electric shock in a rail yard culminating in a fine of £6.5m, the largest health & safety fine in twenty years which was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal.
    • R v British Car Auctions Limited (2022) – prosecution of a vehicle auction company following an incident in which an auction vehicle was driven into a customer causing serious life changing injuries. BCA were fined £1.1m.
    • Advising or acting in relation to numerous health & safety investigations and prosecutions in a wide variety of contexts including roads and railways, construction sites, hotels, boats, factories and warehouses, HMOs, leisure facilities and shops.
  • Fire safety

    We advise and represent fire authorities, businesses and individuals at all stages of enforcement investigations, in appeals against enforcement notices, prosecutions and at inquests and inquiries involving fire. We have particular expertise in relation to fire safety in complex buildings and scenarios including hotels, care homes, blocks of flats and converted or refurbished properties.

    Members of chambers have been involved in a number of fire safety appeals to the Court of Appeal including R v Butt [2018] EWCA Crim 1617, the leading case on sentencing fire safety offences. Jeremy Barnett is an Honorary Professor at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction at UCL which has focused on fire safety following the Hackitt Review.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Representing core participants at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
    • Advising in relation to effect and consequences of the Building Safety Act 2022 and changes to fire safety legislation arising out of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
    • Advising or acting in relation to numerous fire safety investigations, appeals and prosecutions in a wide variety of contexts including the renovation and refurbishment of complex buildings such as hotels and blocks of flats, HMOs and mixed-use premises, and matters involving fatalities.

    See also inquests and inquiries below.

  • Building safety, housing and HMOs

    We have expertise in advising on all stages of building safety, from design and construction to building control and planning applications to occupation and refurbishment, and in related areas including health & safety and fire safety. Our clients include national government, local authorities, approved inspectors and major hotel chains.

    Our members are also regularly instructed in relation to housing & HMO matters including enforcement, prosecutions and appeals against notices and civil penalties and in relation to Rent Repayment Orders.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Representing core participants at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
    • Advising in relation to effect and consequences of the Building Safety Act 2022 and changes to fire safety legislation arising out of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.
    • Advising or acting for local authorities and landlords in relation to numerous housing and HMO investigations, appeals and prosecutions, including cases involving fatalities.
    • Advising or acting in relation to planning and building control disputes.
  • Inquests & inquiries

    We are often instructed to represent regulators, including the HSE, ORR and local authorities, as well as businesses and individuals at inquest proceedings, particularly where there are related regulatory criminal investigations (see also health & safety above) or where sensitive reputational or other issues are involved.

    Members of chambers have represented core participants at the Grenfell and Hillsborough Inquiries.

    Recent instructions include:

    • Sensitive and high profile inquests relating to deaths of vulnerable individuals such as babies and children, at care homes, sheltered accommodation and prisons, and deaths involving restraint or fires.
    • Inquests involving deaths in workplaces such as construction sites or railways and the related prosecutions arising from those inquests.
    • Representing core participants at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.