Property development company fine for health and safety breach reduced due to COVID-19 and spike in interest rates – Joseph Hudson defends

The defendant property development company was charged with breaching Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and thereby an offence contrary to section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £8,000, representing a substantial reduction from the £50,000 starting point advocated by the prosecution.

The breach involved failure to ensure the construction phase of the property development was carried out without risks to health and safety in the summer of 2021. HSE inspectors visited the site in Lancashire on two occasions in June and July 2021. On each occasion, inspectors observed that the state of the premises presented a risk to the health and safety of anyone working there. This involved the following:

  • Faulty scaffolding risking falls from height;
  • Confusion around the correct asbestos survey;
  • Risk of fire from a build-up of combustible materials;
  • Failure to provide adequate welfare facilities.

The defendant company had initially outsourced project management, but due to unforeseen circumstances was left without a project manager for the final weeks of the redevelopment. One of the company Directors stepped in to take control of the site but later conceded that he did not have the required expertise to undertake such a role.

Following analysis of the company’s accounts, the District Judge accepted the defence submission that this was a micro company for the purposes of the sentencing guidelines.

The Judge was persuaded to impose a reduced fine owing to the commercial difficulties in the property and construction sectors, particularly in light of the measures introduced by the Bank of England to address inflation concerns.

Joseph was instructed by Ramsdens Solicitors, a leading Yorkshire law firm.

Joseph practises across regulatory and criminal disciplines. He combines commercial awareness and careful analysis with his confidence in criminal courts to obtain positive outcomes for clients.


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