Regulatory and compliance

We advise companies and directors on corporate compliance and where litigation is unavoidable we offer rigorous defence strategies tailored to meet business needs.

Our Regulatory team lead, Kathryn Gilbertson, has been described as a ‘leading light’ in the sector.

Her team can advise you on: 

  • Bribery Act Compliance
  • Corporate Manslaughter
  • Dawn Raids
  • Directors liability
  • Environment
  • Fire Safety
  • Food law
  • Health and Safety
  • Interviews under Caution
  • Product liability and Recall
  • Risk Assessment
  • Trading Standards

We provide clients with a “route map” through the laws that affect their businesses. This approach allows them to achieve compliance without restricting their corporate goals.

We give time critical advice and practical solutions to businesses when the Environment Agency (EA); Food Standards Agency (FSA); Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA); Groceries Code Adjudicator; Health and Safety Executive (HSE); and Local Authority enforcement officers such as the Trading Standards Officer (TSO) attend site.

We provide training to clients and professional bodies. Recently these have included:

Let us help you avoid the criminal courts, and the PR damage to your brand and reputation, by having a legal compliance review today.

Get in touch with Partner Kathryn Gilbertson

Voted Food Safety Regulation Law Firm of the Year in England – 2018

Global Law Experts 

 

The Legal 500 2017 commends regulatory expert Kathryn Gilbertson who is recommended in the elite national ‘leading lawyers’ list:

The firm provides ‘City-quality business defence services’ thanks to the highly experienced Kathryn Gilbertson.” (Crime, 2017)

“Kathryn Gilbertson has a well-established reputation as a leading light in the field and clients praise her ‘in-depth knowledge and ability to find solutions that are both practical and creative’.” (Health & Safety, 2017)

“The ‘experienced and efficient’ Kathryn Gilbertson is a leading regulatory specialist.” (Environment, 2016)

From prevention to prosecution we have the practical experience and expertise to help you with the increasing threat of Bribery and Corruption.

The Bribery Act 2010 poses many challenges for organisations operating in the UK and overseas.  You may need to rethink how you conduct business and with whom.  If you trade with the US, then the Foreign Corrupt Practises Act may impact on your business.

Our sector approach will help businesses operating within the agricultural, construction, food and manufacturing sectors.

The offence of failing to prevent bribery requires organisations to put in place “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery by employees or any other associated person.  Failure to comply with the Act can lead to unlimited fines, significant reputational damage and may impact on future commercial relationships.

We can assist with:

  • Assistance with Investigations and Prosecutions
  • Crisis Management and “dawn raids”
  • Drafting and implementation of Anti-Bribery Policies and Procedures
  • Internal investigations into suspected acts of bribery or corruption within your organisation
  • Interviews under caution
  • Representation and advice during compulsory questioning
  • Risk Assessments
  • Training from employee to board level

Get in touch by calling Kathryn Gilbertson.

We provide advice and assistance to national companies, property developers, SMEs and private individuals on environmental compliance matters.

Where litigation is unavoidable then we will robustly defend proceedings.

We are renowned for our proactive approach, seeking negotiated solutions with the Environment Agency or local environment/ planning officer whenever possible.

Recent work highlights include:

Advice: Defence:
Abstraction licenses Appeals against enforcement notices
Contaminated land in property purchases Asbestos
Director Compliance Training Breach of permit conditions
Due diligence in corporate transactions Dawn raids
Environmental accreditations Interviews under caution
Odour management Judicial Review
Packaging waste obligations Noise nuisance
Remediation of historic contamination REACH / CLP
Waste management Reservoir Act disputes

Our clients consider us to be part of their in-house team.  As such we frequently attend their sites to consider compliance issues within the local environmental context, meet with the operators and supervisors, as well as formulating improvements to their risk management protocols to enable them to rely on due diligence defences.

All courts now use the Sentencing Council’s tariff approved guidelines to impose penalties upon conviction.  Businesses and individuals need to take advice immediately following an incident to minimise risk and develop a robust case strategy.

We provide bespoke training on topical environmental issues.

Kathryn is a committee member for the Eastern Region of the UK Environmental Lawyers Association (UKELA).

For assistance, contact Kathryn Gilbertson, who heads our regulatory team. 

 

The Legal 500 commends regulatory specialist Kathryn Gilbertson as:

 

“The ‘experienced and efficient’ Kathryn Gilbertson is a leading regulatory specialist.” (2016)

“ ‘Thorough, knowledgeable, attentive and readily accessible’.” (2015)

 

Whether it is an issue of food hygiene, labelling, safety or standards we can help.

Our specialist lawyers will help you achieve a safe commercial solution by demystifying the law.

We have successfully defended businesses in the courts for food hygiene and safety breaches as well as challenged various Food Labelling Regulations and their interpretation by Judicial Review.

Work highlights include:

Appeals against Food Hygiene Rating Scores Allergen labelling Defending Food Safety Prosecutions
Due diligence reviews Food Business Operator advice Food fraud – substitution
Food poisoning investigations Groceries code adjudicator HACCP
Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notices and Orders Infant food formulation and labelling Interviews under caution
Pesticide residues Primary authority partnerships Product recall
‘Rare’ burgers Rodent infestations Sanitizer selection / EU guidance

We speak at national conferences on food law matters and work closely with the leading professional bodies.  We regularly organise a mock trial event for members of the Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT) and have done so for over 10 years.

Kathryn Gilbertson was awarded a fellowship of SOFHT in 2012. She is a member of the advisory board of The Institute of Food Safety, Integrity and Protection (TIFSIP).  Kathryn also provided guidance to Professor Elliott during his investigation into the integrity and assurance of Food Supply Networks as a result of the horsemeat scandal.

We are members of the British Hospitality Association.

Every food business may be inspected by the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) or Trading Standards Officer (TSO) who may carry out an audit, investigate a complaint or provide advice on best practise. The results of such visits can leave the Food Business Operator (FBO) confused:

  • How bad was the inspection?
  • What do I have to do?
  • Can I serve rare meat such as burgers?
  • Can I appeal against the notice served?
  • How do I appeal the hygiene rating scores?

We have the skills and knowledge to help FBOs to chart the right path.

Get in touch by contacting Kathryn Gilbertson.

Our team is recognised as a “leader in the field” of Health and Safety.

Our renowned lawyers will give you commercial advice aimed at minimising risks and preserving your business continuity.

We have successfully advised and defended companies and their directors in Health and Safety matters. Our team provides a series of options and recommends effective strategies – not just ‘standard’ legal solutions.

We regularly advice on issues relating to:

Appeals against enforcement notices Asbestos
Corporate Manslaughter Construction Safety including CDM
Crisis Management Deafness
Directors and Officers advice and training DSEAR
Defending criminal proceedings – both companies and individuals Electrical Safety
Fire Safety Fees For Intervention appeals
Global Safety Recall Gas Safety
Internal investigations Inquests
Interviews – voluntary, compulsory (section 20) and under caution Lift and lifting equipment
Legionnaires Disease Major and fatal incidents
Prosecution Risk Assessment
Sentencing Guidelines Training
Workplace Incidents Window Safety

What makes us different?

  • We give time critical advice and practical solutions to enable the business to continue to operate while an incident is being investigated both internally and by the regulator.
  • We adopt the “hands on” approach supporting employees and senior management during the voluntary and section 20 interviews or interview under cautions.
  • Our crisis management plan is an essential tool that gives directors what they need most at such times – peace of mind.
  • We have successfully defended not only a number of companies and their directors but also professionals who were charged due to their professional guidance being suspected of causing or contributing to the incident.

How we add value

  • It’s not all about being reactive to health and safety issues – our specialist team offers bespoke health and safety training sessions from “Inspector Calls” to Directors Duties.  This essential training offers practical advice on every stage of the process.
  • We host quarterly safety briefings and send email alerts to clients.  If you would like to receive information to help keep up to date, register here.

For assistance, contact Kathryn Gilbertson, who heads our regulatory team.

 

The Legal 500 rates us as a first tier firm for our Health and Safety team:

 

Kathryn Gilbertson has a well-established reputation as a leading light in the field and clients praise her ‘in-depth knowledge and ability to find solutions that are both practical and creative’. (2017)

How to be prepared for a dawn raid

Coming soon – Fee for Intervention – a fully independent appeals process!

The HSE is shortly to consult on proposals to make the Fee For Intervention (FFI) dispute process fully independent.

You’ll find details of the proposal here.

Currently, if a dutyholder disagrees with a FFI intervention such as a material breach decision or the fees being levied under the scheme, then the dispute is heard by a panel of three people made up of two members from the HSE and an independent person.  The proposal would create an entirely independent appeals process.

The current FFI appeals process is the subject of a legal challenge by OCS Group UK.  This case will be heard shortly.

Published: 14 February 2017

1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness

The HSE has just published the latest statistics on work related health and safety for the period 2015/2016.

The headlines are:

  • 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,515 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2014)
  • 144 workers killed at work
  • 72,702 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 621,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £14.1 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2014/15)

Further details can be found here.

If you are an employer then call us to discuss how you can reduce your company’s exposure to health and safety incidents.

Published: 2 November 2016

Groceries Code Adjudicator – Supplementary guidance on de-listing for the fresh produce sector.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator has issued further guidance on de-listing for the fresh produce sector.

Retailers need to properly document their grounds of ‘genuine commercial reason’.  They should also have a meaningful dialogue with their suppliers about volumes and quality issues before de-listing.  The GCA will consider what is a reasonable de-listing notice period based upon the clarity of the Supply Agreement.

Should you be affected by a de-listing decision and want further advice then do get in touch.

The GCA interpretive guidance on de-listing practice can be found here: http://bit.ly/2aLBXly

Published: 8 August 2016

DEFRA and the EA have recently published guidance for businesses in England on how to avoid pollution incidents and the permissions needed to dispose of waste.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pollution-prevention-for-businesses

It also provides links to additional guidance on:

  • Environmental permitting
  • Waste management
  • Environmental management systems
  • Storage of hazardous substances above and below ground

It is a useful starting point for anyone with a pollution compliance query.

Published: 20 July 2016

Invited to an interview with the HSE?

Have you been invited to an interview recently?

Did you check the status your inspector?

Only authorised officers can use the power under the HSW Act to require a person to answer questions.

You are entitled to see the inspector’s ‘warrant’ card to check what powers they have been given.

We’ve noticed recently that the HSE are sending ‘visiting inspectors’ to assist with investigations and carry out interviews.  They have limited authority and are relying on your cooperation.

Before you go to such a meeting – do take advice.  Our team are available to help.

Published: 16 June 2016

Restaurant owner guilty of manslaughter following Crown Court Trial

A restaurant owner has been convicted of manslaughter when a customer with a peanut allergy died after eating a meal containing peanut powder.

Mohammed Zaman caused the death of Mr Paul Wilson by serving a meal that he knew contained potentially lethal peanut powder.

Mr Zaman had substituted almond powder with a cheaper ground nut mix which contained peanuts.  He failed to warn customers; failed to properly train his employees and failed to take any action following a previous serious allergic reaction incident.  The Court heard evidence from the wholesalers confirming the steps that they had taken to alert Mr Zaman to the additional risks associated with changing to the groundnut/peanut mix powder.

These failures led to Mr Wilson’s death.  Mr Wilson knew that he had a peanut allergy and specifically checked that the meal would be peanut free.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Martin Goldman said after today’s verdict that the CPS are sending a “… message to the catering industry – there is a duty of care to your customers.  If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at real risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute”.

Next steps

  • Particular care should be taken when preparing foods for customers requiring an allergen free meal.
  • Caterers are advised to check deliveries to ensure that there is no inadvertent substitution by suppliers of ingredients ordered.
  • Where foods are known to contain allergens then these should be brought to consumers attention.

Published: 24 May 2016

Hillsborough Verdict

After the longest inquest in British legal history, the jury into the Hillsborough tragedy reached their verdict yesterday.  They concluded that the 96 victims were unlawfully killed.

Whilst much of the media has focused on the faults of the Police, it should not be forgotten that the Coroner heard evidence which showed that other organisations were also culpable.  The jury criticised the South Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Sheffield Wednesday football club and its engineers, Eastwood and Partners.  They concluded that there were safety deficiencies on the part of Hillsborough itself, Sheffield City Council and other authorities whose duty it was to license the ground for safety.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will now investigate possible criminal offences committed by police officers and others which could include the Football Association.  These would include charges for gross negligence manslaughter.

Due to the date of this tragedy, the charges cannot include the statutory offence of corporate manslaughter.

Published : 27 April 2016

The thorny issue of packaging waste

My acquisition due diligence this week picked up that thorny issue of packaging waste again.  Whilst the seller can register as a producer for this year and become a member of a compliance scheme, he can’t make good the breach for the previous years – ouch.  A business may be an ‘obligated’ packaging producer if it handles 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year, and has a turnover more than £2 million a year (based on the last financial year’s accounts).

So what will he do – confess to the Environment Agency (EA) and try to ‘cut a deal’ via the civil sanctions route or tough it out and hope to sell his business knowing it’s non-compliant?  The down side of the latter approach is the buyer’s risk of a prosecution and a proceeds of crime application being made by the EA.

Rather than run the risk in your business – check.  If you need any help then do get in touch.

Published : 12 February 2016

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