Robert Stevenson represents Hotel Group for breach of Health & Safety at Work RegulationsRobert Stevenson
The Company had been charged with contravening Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in that it was alleged that it had failed to repair a gap in the railings to the perimeter of a carpark at one of its national group of hotels.
A guest at the hotel fell through the gap which had hazard tape placed across it but had not been repaired. The guest fell through the gap when she was standing behind her car and her husband activated the boot to open, which forced her to step backwards and through the gap. She fell approximately 2 meters to the lightwell below and suffered a number of injuries, including fractures to her vertebrae and sternum and stated that she has not been able to return to work since her accident.
As a company with a typical turnover exceeding £50 million, it was defined as a large company for the purposes of the sentencing guidelines and, even at the lower levels of culpability or harm, was facing a very substantial fine. The prosecution had initially contended for a starting point within the guidelines which would have meant a fine in excess of £1 million. However, the sentencing judge was persuaded to adopt a much lower position on the guidelines and was also prepared to accept submissions made on behalf of the company in relation to what impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the company finances and imposed a fine of £80,000.
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