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PRESS INFORMATION - media enquiries to Sam Dabbs 07711 672893

Directors found guilty of serious health and safety offences are also likely to be banned from running a company if new sentencing guidelines come into force, warns law firm DWF.

The warning follows a report by Warwick University on behalf of the Health & Safety Executive, which says that too few directors are being disqualified for flouting health and safety rules.

While the Company Directors Disqualification Act, introduced in 1986, allows the courts to disqualify directors who are in breach of their duties, in the period up to 2005 just ten had been banned for health and safety offences. The majority of disqualifications are for financial reasons, such as insolvency [check].

The report found the prosecutors and judges were failing to use the Act because of a lack of awareness. It recommends that the HSE should issue guidelines as to the circumstances in which it would be appropriate to disqualify a director, and urge prosecutors to apply to the court for a disqualification order as a matter of course in these types of cases.

Steffan Groch, health and safety partner at DWF, says: “Directors should be warned. The HSE will be encouraging prosecutors to use their powers under the Act. It means that, for serious breaches of health and safety rules, they will not only risk a large fine but also could be banned from running a company.

“This latest measure is part of a wider clampdown on organisations who breach health and safety rules. The HSE is taking a much tougher approach in prosecuting offenders and fines are increasing. Meanwhile the introduction of the new offence of corporate manslaughter in April 2008 will put the actions of directors under the spotlight as never before.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
DWF LLP is one of the fastest growing regional law firms in the UK. With over 850 people based in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Preston, DWF provides a range of services grouped under the following practice areas:

Corporate
Banking & Finance
Business Recovery
Litigation
Real Estate
People
Insurance
Private Client

DWF has developed extensive sector-specific expertise in a number of areas including: automotive, education, retail & leisure, legal expenses and food and resourcing. Further information on DWF is available via www.dwf.co.uk.

Media enquiries to:
Sam Dabbs
Dabbs PR & Marketing
T: 01939 210503 or 07711 672893
E: sam@dabbsprm.com

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