Health and safety in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

The regulatory and corporate defence practice at Birketts LLP has extensive cross-industry experience in serious health and safety defence including disasters and multiple fatalities. Practice head Laura Thomas and legal director Matthew Gowen are barristers and the firm employs three consultants who are all former HSE Inspectors. Senior associates Julie Gowland and Philippa Dyer also advise companies and individuals on HSE matters. The firm also provides a full compliance assessment service.

Practice head(s):

Laura Thomas


“The firm has a tremendous team approach and a very cohesive group of people. It identifies and manages expectations very well and really gets to know its clients’ culture and aspirations.”

“Matthew Gowen has represented us very effectively and in court is a gifted and natural orator and performer. He displays great calm and control and has that steely determination to succeed.”

Work highlights

  • Instructed by a manufacturing company on the day of a tragic fatal explosion to assist with the accident investigation.
  • Instructed by an entertainment company following a fatality onsite.
  • Instructed by a business to advise and represent them following a fatality onsite.
  • Instructed by a charity to investigate an accident which occurred at a public event managed by the client.
  • Instructed to conduct an accident investigation by an international business following allegations of a fatal electrocution.

Greenwoods GRM

The practice at Greenwoods GRM is regarded as one of the region's leaders in the field of health and safety, thanks largely to the stellar track record of leading light Kathryn Gilbertson who leads the regulatory team. The firm acts for a national client base in matters ranging from safety compliance and fire safety through to the defence of corporate criminal prosecutions. The firm is best known for its work within the hospitality, SME manufacturing and construction sectors, and it has a standout practice for matters involving food safety regulation.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Gilbertson

Key clients

Principal Hayley Hotels

McColl’s Retail Group PLC

Crown Golf Ltd

Moy Park Ltd


Royal Society for Public Health

Work highlights

  • Advised and assisted Moy Park Ltd following a fork lift truck accident in which the injured party sustained major injuries resulting in the amputation of his left leg and significant damage to the right leg.
  • Advised McColl’s Retail Group PLC in defence of health and safety prosecution where Bristol Council alleged that an elderly customer slipped and fell on a store entrance mat and subsequently died due to his injuries.
  • Advised Dacorum Borough Council during an investigation by HSE after Dacorum reported a number of cases of Hand Arm Vibration (a notifiable occupational disease) under RIDDOR.
  • Providing advice and assistance following an incident in which a trespasser fell from the roof of Principal Hayley Hotels and was found dead in the adjacent river.
  • Advising on a major accident involving contractors repairing electrical cabling within the plant room of Unite Students accommodation site, in which contractors sustained severe electric shock with life changing injuries.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The regulatory practice at Mills & Reeve LLP specialises in regulatory enforcement actions and related advice. It has notable expertise in the education and healthcare sectors, though it recently handled high-profile matters in the construction industry. Head of the regulatory practice Duncan Astill is a leading light and his group is a key component in litigator Jamie Wheatley's national regulatory, public and commercial disputes service line. Principal associate Amanda Narkiewicz is a rising star who regularly handles investigations and prosecutions by police, the HSE and other regulators following incidents of significant injuries and fatalities.

Practice head(s):

Duncan Astill; Jamie Wheatley

Other key lawyers:

Amanda Narkiewicz

Key clients


Adamson Construction Limited

Elysium Healthcare (Farndon) Limited

Work highlights

  • Representing a family-owned construction company prosecuted by the HSE in respect of an accident during building works on domestic premises.
  • Advice and representation in respect of the HSE investigation into the death of a secure mental patient after she jumped from a moving vehicle.
  • Advising the Director of a care home being threatened with prosecution in his personal capacity following a serious injury to an employee who fell down a lift shaft, which was alleged to have been caused by his conduct in failing to approve repairs.
  • Advising client in respect of an investigation into a serious injury to a delivery driver whilst unloading at a garden centre.
  • Urgent and advice and support to a logistics business being investigated by the HSE following a serious injury to a delivery driver whilst unloading.

Gotelee Solicitors

At Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich, veteran litigator Hugh Rowland frequently advises on investigations by the HSE and local authority departments. His practice handles all matters relating to product safety and is particularly involved in advising businesses on how to avoid investigative scrutiny by Trading Standards and HMRC. Howard Catherall is the driving force behind the firm's new Gotelee Guardian app, which helps clients to screen products imported from the EU for product safety compliance.

Practice head(s):

Hugh Rowland

Other key lawyers:

Howard Catherall

Work highlights

  • Represented major importer/distributor on investigation by HSE following the supply to schools of equipment impregnated with a hazardous substance.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

The health and safety practice at Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough has two highly knowledgeable and long-serving crime partners in Simon Milburn and Andrew Cave. It offers a full service to both individuals and corporate clients, who appreciate the strong advocacy skills of the key partners. Milburn handles both prosecution and defence work, while Cave handles a high volume of motoring and vehicle licence offence prosecutions.

Practice head(s):

Simon Milburn

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Cave

Work highlights

  • The firm is appointed to represent DVSA in an area covering 9 courts in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, and receives approximately two cases per month of varying complexity.
  • Defended a business against charges of corporate manslaughter.
  • Defending a client prosecuted for selling cigarettes that did not meet health & safety standards in the UK.
  • Advising a private individual on a potential prosecution for causing death from carbon monoxide poisoning.