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PRESS INFORMATION - media enquiries to Sam Dabbs - 07711 672893

A new bill which aims to raise the penalties for health and safety offences has been welcomed by law firm DWF, which defends many companies accused of breaching the rules.

The Health and Safety (Offences) Bill, which has received a second unopposed reading in the House of Commons, would effectively raise the maximum fine magistrates’ courts could impose for 'regulatory' offences from £5,000 to £20,000.

Currently magistrates can impose a maximum £20,000 fine for breaches of the ‘general duties’ under the Health and Safety at Work Act. For ‘regulatory' breaches this is reduced to £5,000, even though the failures in the case may be just the same.. The bill is being proposed by MP Keith Hill, who believes it will provide ‘tougher, more commensurate punishment’.

Steffan Groch, partner at DWF, said: “Fines for health and safety offences are potentially unlimited. If magistrates feel that the circumstances of a case warrant a larger penalty than they can impose, then they must commit the case to a Crown Court.

“There is no cap on the level of penalties which a Crown Court can set for a health and safety offence. For that reason, the Bill will not have the effect of raising fines. It will simply mean that more cases will be retained by the Magistrates, rather than being committed to a Crown Court.

“By keeping more cases in the magistrates’ court, it will actually keep down costs for defendants and lead to a swifter resolution. When a case goes to a Crown Court, costs increase as a barrister must generally be instructed and the proceedings will take longer - at least a further two to three months, even on a simple case.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

DWF LLP is one of the fastest growing regional law firms in the UK. With over 850 people based in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester 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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