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According to some, CMS (which merged with Nabarro LLP in 2017) fields a health and safety team that is ‘as good as any major firm in this practice area, and better than the vast majority’. Practice head Lukas Rootman attracts praise for his ‘gift for understanding the client’s needs and for his keen grasp of the commercial realities; he will never over-lawyer a case and will find a sensible solution where possible, and is tough as nails and not prepared to tolerate any nonsense from the other side’. The Sheffield-based team works on a national and international basis, handling high-profile HSE investigations and prosecutions, inquests and health and safety compliance advice, with particular capability in the chemicals, construction, energy waste and manufacturing sectors. Carl Dray is the other key partner; he handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters, with a key strength in defendant insurance work.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s team in Leeds is led by Chris Baranowski and Tracey Longfield and was further strengthened by the arrival of Kirsty Gomersal from Clyde & Co LLP. She brings her rail and construction industry expertise to a team with an extensive insurer client base and key strengths in the manufacturing, retail and healthcare sectors. Baranowski is singled out for this track record in corporate manslaughter and health and safety investigations, and Longfield regularly handles healthcare regulatory issues. Key mandates included representing an agricultural services company in police investigations following the death of a driver, which resulted in a prosecution under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The Sheffield-based Teresa Hitchcock leads DLA Piper UK LLP’s UK health and safety practice; her extensive experience in local government makes her a natural choice for public sector health and safety matters. The practice has a pre-eminent reputation for assisting its corporate clients at senior management and board levels with health and safety compliance, from handling internal and regulatory investigations and resulting prosecutions, to defending clients in disputes arising from major incidents. In 2016, Hitchcock led the team acting for Ardagh Group, a Luxembourg-based glass and metal producer, in a HSE investigation into a serious accident involving one of the client’s employees on a third-party site, which involved working closely with the client to prepare written submissions to the regulator as well as handling the plea following the HSE’s decision to prosecute. In other highlights, the practice assisted Unilever with conducting a risk analysis of the client’s European business with a view to identifying key health and safety and environmental risks, and advised Keller Group on the production of a guide to key health and safety issues and obligations to be used by the client’s management teams.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP provides a ‘consistent, high-quality, client-centred service’ across the firm’s UK-wide network of offices, with clients singling out several key figures in Leeds, including Kevin Elliott, who heads the firm’s national health and safety practice; David Young, who is ‘sound, responsive, measured, effective and authoritative – a first-class adviser’; and the ‘client-focusedPaul Verrico, who is noted for his ‘excellent strategic advice’. The firm acts for a number of UK-based and global clients, including Tarmac Trading, which the firm defended in a prosecution following a fatality during some roadworks, and Parker Hannifin, which the firm defended in an HSE prosecution concerning a fatality arising from equipment falling on to a maintenance fitter.

Sarah Taylor heads the Leeds team at Pinsent Masons LLP and ‘leads by example; she has vast experience in the field and her attention to detail is unrivalled’. The team handles high-profile investigations and prosecutions, as well as non-contentious health and safety and regulatory issues for a number of national and multinational businesses, with particular strengths in the retail and food sectors. Taylor’s team works in conjunction with the firm’s national health and safety offering, which enables its clients to draw on UK-wide resources where necessary. Clients include Asda Stores, William Hill and DONG Energy.

Erin Shoesmith leads the team at Addleshaw Goddard, which attracts praise for its ‘excellent technical knowledge, pragmatic advice and ability to maintain a high level of service while dealing with fast-moving matters’. According to some, Shoesmith is ‘in the very front rank; her legal skill ensures she has the best possible understanding of the case, enabling her to devise practical solutions’. The firm is regularly called on by international clients to handle HSE investigations and prosecutions; key mandates included defending Advanced Metallurgical Group in an HSE prosecution concerning serious injuries sustained by an employee of the client in a crushing plant, and acting for Asset International in an HSE prosecution arising from a series of reports of employees suffering from hand-arm vibration syndrome, which was one of the first prosecutions under new sentencing guidelines introduced on 1 February 2016.

Paul Matthews leads the practice at DWF, which was joined in January 2016 by experienced criminal solicitor Mark Thompson. The team in Leeds is regularly called upon to handle HSE investigations and criminal and civil prosecutions arising from major incidents, often involving corporate manslaughter. The firm’s insurance credentials makes it a natural choice for insurers seeking advice on health and safety matters. Other sectors in which the practice is experienced include education, healthcare and construction.

At Kennedys, the ‘responses, quality of work and advice given has proven to be excellent over the years; the team strength and knowledge is also excellent’. Daniel McShee leads the practice in Sheffield, which works in concert with the firm’s national regulatory defence practice, giving it the strength in depth to handle high-profile disaster incidents across a range of industries, including healthcare, construction and manufacturing. In a key matter, senior associate Anna Naylor led the team representing Mid UK Recycling in an HSE prosecution concerning a fatality; she is also leading the team representing a refuse collector in a police investigation following the death of a homeless man in a fire within a truck in Manchester.

Weightmans’ health and safety practice is ‘much sought after, and justifiably so; the firm rapidly gets to the heart of the problem in hand, and identifies the right way forward’. David Lewis heads the firm’s national regulatory practice from the Leeds office and is singled out for providing ‘client care and a commitment to careful analysis that is second to none; he is further distinguished by his ability to resolve cases in a practical manner, thus freeing clients to pursue their commercial strategies’. The practice handles the full range of health and safety matters for public, commercial, charitable and insurance clients, which can also draw on the firm’s niche environmental and business crime teams where necessary. In a key matter, Lewis represented East Riding District Council at an inquest following the death of a motorcyclist whose family alleged that the accident occurred as a result of poor street lighting and an inappropriate approach to parking restrictions in the area.

In keeping with the firm’s wider transportation expertise, Andrew Jackson Solicitors LLP’s health and safety practice acts for a number of transport clients in investigations and prosecutions by agencies including the HSE and Environment Agency. Highlights included acting for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the prosecution of a shipmaster concerning the loss of a crewman overboard, and acting for a river pilot in a rare prosecution under the Pilotage Act 1997 concerning a collision between two vessels. Jeff Swales has an extensive track record in fatal accident cases, and Andrew Oliver is singled out for his expertise in shipping and transport health and safety issues.

BLM’s health and safety practice handles serious and high-profile cases including corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter for private and public sector clients, with particular expertise in care home-related cases involving the elderly and vulnerable children. Henry Kirkup heads the team and is ‘good at cutting to the issues’; he defended Chatsworth House Trust in a case involving fatal injuries sustained by a volunteer who rode his motorcycle over the retaining wall of an unusual feature of the park. Consultant Richard Clarke is ‘hugely experienced and a pleasure to work with’.

Headed by Ruth Armstrong, Gateley Plc’s regulatory practice also features Pauline Munro, ‘a talented regulatory lawyer who readily commits to clients at short notice, working to come up with the best outcome possible’. The firm handles the full range of fatality and incident services to a national client base covering the housebuilding, construction, transport, waste management, manufacturing and retail sectors. In an illustration of the practice’s track record in high-profile HSE investigations, Munro was instructed by nylon manufacturer Nylacast following the death of an employee at its site, which involved providing support in the aftermath of the incident and advising on the inquest and HSE investigation. Armstrong’s mandates included representing Bilfinger Industrial Services in a coroner’s inquest into the death of a pylon rigger during planned maintenance works to an electricity pylon.

Plexus Law’s health and safety practice handles the full range of regulatory and enforcement matters, including acting in corporate manslaughter prosecutions and criminal health and safety prosecutions. The firm also acts for a number of insurers, including Chubb and Swiss Re. Anthony Baker leads the team, which acted for Interserve Facility Management in an HSE investigation into injuries sustained by an employee of the client while on a third-party site. Other key mandates included acting for Kineton Manor in an HSE investigation into the death of a resident who contracted cryptosporidium following an event held at the home owned and operated by the client.

Walker Morris LLP’s ‘responsive, practical and commercial’ two-partner team ‘always keeps an eye on the bigger picture for the client’. Jeanette Burgess heads the practice, which includes Andrew Northage, who is ‘charming, inspires confidence and is easy to work with for clients and counsel alike; he fights his client’s corner but doesn’t take bad points’. The firm has experienced a notable uptick in food and retail mandates; in an illustration of the latter, Robert Starr acted for JFT Wholesale Limited, a UK-based discount retail chain, in a prosecution brought by Staffordshire County Council concerning the sale and storage of fireworks.

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