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Who Represents Who

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Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a national health and safety practice led by Birmingham-based Kevin Elliott, who advises clients such as Siemens, Nestlé, and Centrico. Elliott represented a major corporate client in the successful appeal of a prohibition order by the HSE demanding the closure of an offshore wind farm, and is defending a manufacturing company regarding an explosion on a customer’s premises. The team also handles non-contentious matters including reviewing health and safety measures for an energy client following its conversion from coal power to biomass, and providing training to corporate boards and responsible executives. Other notable clients include FMC Technologies, shipping and logistics company DFDS, and Mitchells and Butlers.

The health and safety practice at Gowling WLG is known for its ‘high level of professionalism’, with clients singling out ‘thorough’ practice head Andrew Litchfield, who represents corporate clients such as Starbucks, Toyota and Bakkavor in the aftermath of incidents, during investigations and throughout criminal proceedings. Recent work includes acting for a local distribution client in a fatal accident which required the solicitation of an independent expert to determine whether the victim’s cannabis consumption was a significant factor. In another key matter, Susan Dearden acted for a multinational defence company in connection with internal and HSE investigations. Principal associate Michael Hafen regularly acts for a not-for-profit housing and care provider in inquests and CQC and police investigations. The team also acted for two clients in HSE prosecutions for breach of HSWA regulations.

At Pinsent Masons LLP, the ‘first-rate’ Sean Elson is ‘a real strategist; hardworking and great with clients’. He leads the ‘impressive’ health and safety team in Birmingham and is supported by Louise Mansfield, who is ‘one to watch’. The practice regularly acts for large corporate clients, particularly in the infrastructure and energy sectors, and Elson recently acted in the successful settlement of an HSE prosecution. The firm also acted for a leading UK construction client in a fatal incident involving a potentially fraudulent training record, and acted for a well-known holiday comparison website in relation to a number of consumer protection issues.

Shoosmiths LLPprovides a service that often seems to be designed specifically to meet clients’ needs in a pragmatic way, considering the risks and never losing sight of the commercial realities’. The firm recently recruited the ‘intelligent and pragmaticRoy Tozer and Charles Arrand from DLA Piper UK LLP; Arrand recently represented a major car manufacturer in a serious injury case. Newly promoted partner Hayley Saunders and associate Hannah Price defended an individual in a police investigation into to the accidental death of a pedestrian. Tozer acted for clients in the natural resources sector in connection with the accidental release of butane gas at an oil refinery, and several procedural mistakes which led to potentially catastrophic incidents. The team’s other key matters included assisting a public-sector client with an investigation into the sinking of a tug boat following a collision with a buoy.

According to clients, the level of service at BLM is ‘10 out of 10’. The ‘highly skilled, calm and confident’ Bob Davies is rated for defending clients facing HSE prosecutions and fatal accident investigations. Notable clients include Allianz, AXA, Lindum, and Great Bear. The practice acted for Essential Supply Products, in a HSE prosecution which came during a period of severe Brexit-related disruption to the client’s business. On the environmental side, Jill Crawford defends clients in Environment Agency investigations and prosecutions; she also supported Davies in his successful representation of a client facing prosecution for the death of an employee who acted unpredictably and was eventually judged not to have been a victim of corporate manslaughter.

Bevan Brittan LLP’s Adam Kendall has strong expertise advising public-sector clients – especially NHS trusts – on the ramifications of health and safety incidents, as well as defending them against CQC and HSE prosecutions. Associate Melissa Stanford, who is strong on the non-contentious side of environmental regulatory work, acted alongside Kendall in a fatality case connected with legionella in a care home operated by Reading Borough Council. In another notable matter, Stuart Merchant and associate Debbie Rookes acted for an NHS trust in lengthy HSE and police investigations, and a ten-day inquest in connection with the death of a service user following restraint by the police on hospital premises. Merchant also represented another trust in a staff whistleblowing case concerning ward practices which led to an internal and police investigation.

Browne Jacobson LLP’s practice is headed by experienced litigator Andy Hopkin and ‘conscientious solicitor and skilled advocateRachel Lyne, who ‘combines a razor-sharp legal mind with a wealth of experience to deliver a highly specialist service’. The group acts predominantly for clients in the public sector, but also acts for insurers and assists fire and rescue services with inquests. Recent work includes representing the driver of a heritage steam locomotive involved in a ‘signal passed at danger’ incident and who was facing the real risk of a prison sentence. Lyne advised a clothes recycling company on its compliance with an improvement notice filed by the HSE following the death of an 89-year old employee. In other highlights, the department defended a manufacturing client and one of its directors in connection with breaches of height rules and asbestos regulations, and an automotive manufacturer with regards to a legionnaire’s disease outbreak on its production site, which resulted in an improvement programme closely monitored by the HSE.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s health and safety team in Birmingham is led by consultant Andrew Roach, who represents individuals and corporate clients facing manslaughter and health and safety prosecutions, and includes associate Steven Harrison, who has substantial experience in defendant personal injury work and specialises in defending clients in the construction and manufacturing sectors. The team advised Watling Tyres and one of its directors following the on-site death of an employee, and represented Hi Fold and its director with regards to a double fatality caused by its product which led to a gross negligence manslaughter charge. National practice head Sally Roff led the appeal against an improvement notice filed following a fatal accident in a distribution site, and acted for Milford Care Group concerning a local authority prosecution after a vulnerable patient was fatally injured by a falling wardrobe.

Ruth Armstrong heads Gateley Plc’s regulatory department, which includes commercial expert Pauline Munro and experienced criminal lawyer Kate Oliver. The practice handles a vast array of health and safety issues for clients in the manufacturing, retail, waste management, construction and transport sectors. Armstrong acted for a leading broadcaster with regards to the health and safety implications of several high-profile reality television shows. The team also advised a demolition company and its managing director issues arising from a building collapse in which four men died. Other notable work included representing Drawn Metal in a corporate and gross negligence manslaughter investigation by the HSE following the death of a lawyer at a construction site in London, and assisted a commercial client with regards to concerns of asbestos exposure to maintenance and non-employees. Other notable clients include Taylor Wimpey, ACE, HTI and Bilfinger.

Kennedys is ‘a nationally renowned force’ in health and safety and its lawyers ‘know exactly where and when to apply pressure to produce the ideal result’. James Shrimpton and solicitor Ruth Sheret ‘are shrewd, highly effective and a formidable team’. Shrimpton worked alongside the firm’s London office on the high-profile HSE investigation into the crash of the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, and is acting for a major hotel chain on its internal review and local authority investigation following a serious accident on its premises. Sheret acted in an inquest for a contractor client who had gone into voluntary insolvency following a fatal accident – the case was resolved without further action from the HSE.

Weightmans LLP attracts praise for its ‘very timely responses and intimate knowledge of sector issues’. The Midlands arm of its regulatory practice is led the ‘thoughtful’ Chris Green, who has expertise in cases involving gas explosions, asbestos, rail, construction and manslaughter. The team is acting in the high-profile case surrounding the accidental death of a bystander due to the fall of a window frame, and acted for Mansfield District Council in the prosecution of the owner of a care home in relation to the death of a dementia patient. Green defended a housing association with regards to a fire incident which prompted an investigation and prosecution, and appeared at an inquest before the Royal Courts of Justice on behalf of a contractor client.

DWF’s David Egan jointly heads the practice and takes the lead on contentious environmental matters, with particular emphasis on defending corporate clients prosecuted by local authorities or regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency. The team provides ongoing advice to clients such as Persimmon, and recently acted for a recycling client with regards to an appeal against a permit revocation issued by the Environment Agency and prosecutions associated with non-compliance with environmental regulations. Other highlights include acting for a biogas facility operator in a major air pollution incident. Other Notable clients include North West Recycling, Horizon Nuclear Power, and Cannington Enterprises. Fellow joint head Caroline Coates is also recommended.

For some Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s regulatory practice is ‘among the true health and safety specialists’ in the West Midlands. Led by Heath Thomas, the team includes new recruit Aled Owen, who specialises in the agricultural food sector. Solicitor Laura Shirley is also recommended. James Lowe joined George Green LLP in May 2017.

The ‘knowledge and professional nature of the staff is excellent’ at Mills & Reeve LLP. Jamie Wheatley leads the national regulatory, public and commercial disputes department from Cambridge, while Duncan Astill heads the practice in Birmingham. Recent work includes handling several fatal accidents, one of which involved the death of a mental health patient, and acting for a leading university with regards to the discovery of asbestos debris on the premises. Astill and associate Amanda Narkiewicz acted on a carbon monoxide poisoning case on behalf of a German construction company, and acted for an urgent care provider in a police-led corporate manslaughter investigation regarding the alleged delayed provision of an ambulance. Consultant Chris Gough, who leads the firm’s insurance dispute work, is also recommended.

Plexus Law’s health and safety team, led by Anthony Bushell, is known for its ‘low costs, great character, professional services, high knowledge base, and active involvement in claims’. The lion’s share of the practice’s work revolves around representing insurers and policyholders in regulatory prosecutions. Recent mandates include acting for a hotel in connection with the drowning of two guests, representing a chain of night clubs in a local authority investigation, and defending Alcohols Limited and its insurer QBE in relation to a substantial fire in one of its distilleries, which resulted in residential property damage, the closure of a railway line and the evacuation of local inhabitants. Jennifer Bates has strong experience in the defence of clients in the commercial and care sectors.

According to clients, Squire Patton Boggs is ‘excellent in all respects’ and ‘the best they have used’, according to one. Led from the Manchester office by Rob Elvin. The the practice acts for Renewables UK and the Engineering Employer’s Federation, and maintains a strong relationship with the British Printing Industries Federation. In Birmingham, Dave Gordon specialises in the chemical sector, while senior associate Robert Biddlecombe focuses on the health and safety issues associated with facilities management and property, including asbestos, fire safety, COMAH regulations and legionella. Notable new clients include Acenta Steel, Fiberweb, Cream Liverpool and BlackRock.

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Legal Developments in West Midlands for Health and safety

  • TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

    I have been asked to cover the topic of Employment law within my half an hour speaking slot today. I have narrowed my subject down to Transfer of Undertakings and Discrimination, with the focus on providing an update on the recent spate of cases on service provision change and on the important developments in the law of age discrimination. Needless to say, in my presentation I shall not be able to cover the level of detail which is contained in my written paper, which I will leave you to read.
    - 11KBW

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