BTO Solicitors LLP's sizeable regulatory crime team including four solicitor advocates is regularly called upon to defend clients in regulatory prosecutions and fatal accident inquiries by the police, HSE, MCA, local authorities and SEPA. Its work spans a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and hospitality alongside the care and public sectors, and reveals particular expertise acting for insurers. Criminal solicitor advocate and former procurator fiscal depute Clare Bone, whose clients also benefit from her strong links to the Health and Safety division of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, jointly heads the practice with solicitor advocate Vikki Watt, whose expertise includes marine, environmental and white-collar crime defence. Associate Lindsay MacNeill is another key member of the team representing clients in various criminal proceedings.
Health and safety in Scotland
BTO Solicitors LLP
Clare Bone; Vikki Watt
Other key lawyers:
Alasdair Gillies; Lindsay MacNeill
‘Alastair Gillies was a gent to deal with.’
‘Clare Bone, Vikki Watt and their colleagues each provide a personal, professional service that is invaluable to clients facing the daunting prospect of interfacing with HSE, police and other regulatory bodies. Clare Bone & Vikki Watt are simply the best in this market and have been for years.’
‘The mix of people and experience is just right. Very knowledgeable and approachable. The fact that the majority of the team has been together for some time is also a big advantage as continuity and consistency are very important to insurers. Every one of the team knows exactly what is expected of them collectively and individually and they always produce a high quality of work.’
‘Special mention goes to Lindsay MacNeill who continues to impress and consistently delivers excellent results.’
’Lindsay MacNeill has the enviable ability to predict what the near future holds for business needs in the ever changing realm of health and safety at work. She equipped me with near instant solutions that allowed my business to remain afloat through Covid-19. Lindsay maintains a watchful eye on government guidance/legislation and presents this in a tailored fashion for her individual clients. Lindsay’s bespoke service allowed me to concentrate on managing other areas of my business.’
‘The team really knows their stuff and are extremely responsive and helpful, dealing with complex matters thoroughly and communicating the complexities clearly. They have real expertise.’
‘Vikki Watt is an excellent lawyer- very knowledgeable, clear, pragmatic and helpful.’
‘I have always found the team to be thorough in their work. They are professional and friendly. I have often recommended this team to my colleagues.’
A & P Grewar
Argent Energy UK Limited
John Hogarth & Son
Foam Extra Limited
AIG Europe Limited
- Represented Argent Energy UK Limited in a prosecution on indictment for two serious accidents occurring at its plant whereby two employees suffered serious burns.
- Represented A & P Grewar, a farming partnership, fined £4,000 in a prosecution for causing a traumatic amputation injury to an employee during silage pit works when a concrete slab weighing over a tonne struck the employee.
- Acted for Sibcas Limited when faced with a prosecution following the serious injury of an apprentice in its workshop. The court was persuaded that the company had remedied its failings and had an excellent safety record, leading to a fine of £8,000.
Led by Lynne Gray in Aberdeen, Burness Paull LLP is best known for its oil and gas sector work - with consultant and onshore and offshore oil and gas industry expert Rona Jamieson as another key individual in this space - while the team has also seen an increase in care sector instructions. Reflecting this industry focus, the team is particularly active for well-known international energy companies and vessel operators alongside care home operators but its client portfolio also includes players from other sectors such as transport, engineering and property. Gray handles a wide range of regulatory investigations and enforcement.
Other key lawyers:
Rona Jamieson; Lynne Moss; Andrew Forsyth
‘Responsive. Clear focus on issue ensuring easy understanding and application of advice.’
‘Burness Paull has a reputation for excellence based on genuine expertise in the field of health and safety, as well as acute commercial awareness.’
‘Lynne Gray was made a partner two years ago, and heads up the health and safety team. She is astute, approachable and utterly professional.’
‘Lynne Gray was amazingly helpful, very clear and detailed in her advice and it was like we had worked together before. Her knowledge was flawless and helped me make some quick decisions.’
‘Both Lynne Gray and Lynne Moss are a pleasure to work with. Both provide comprehensive advice on new and evolving laws and guidance.’
‘This is an area of law where people’s lives and welfare are involved, so you can never settle for second best. The team here has an unparalleled depth and breadth of experience. Their advice is not just technically sharp, but also practical.’
‘Rona Jamieson has terrific expertise, but just as important, exceptional judgement. She has the ability to create calm in crisis situations. Her number is on my speed-dial.’
‘Lynne Gray is a trusted adviser who has gone above and beyond to understand our business. She goes to great lengths to tailor her advice to ensure it is easily understandable for our senior management.’
Babcock International Group
- Represented Total E&P UK in the Sumburgh fatal accident inquiry.
- Advised Rever Offshore following a crew member sustaining a crushing injury from a deck crane whilst the vessel was at port.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP has a strong profile for energy and construction sector work but it also regularly acts for public sector bodies. While the team is well versed in representing clients in fatal accident inquiries and regulatory investigations, providing non-contentious compliance and regulatory advice constitutes another central pillar of its offering. Laura Cameron heads the firm's global risk advisory group, which includes legal director Katherine Metcalfe, who has an a niche in fire safety and is setting up the firm's practice in this space.
Other key lawyers:
Bruce Craig; Tom Stocker; Katherine Metcalfe
‘They work together seamlessly, are experts in the health and safety regime in my area of business and have considerable practical expertise which can be brought to bear in supporting my team.’
‘Particular kudos to Katherine Metcalfe and Laura Cameron – true experts, very client-focused, efficient with their time and always thinking a few steps ahead.’
‘Bruce Craig is excellent. He has a breadth and depth of experience in health and safety cases, particularly offshore and maritime, which is most impressive. He is careful and thorough in his approach but always client-focused.’
‘Katherine Metcalfe is commercially aware, has excellent judgement, and has a calm authority, based on genuine expertise.’
‘Very responsive team with good depth of expertise.’
‘Bruce Craig is a highly experienced, extremely well-regarded and very able lawyer, who we instruct for complex matters. His calm demeanour puts clients at ease and his ability to quickly grasp and accessibly explain complex issues makes him an ideal lawyer to work with in matters of this nature.’
‘Extremely knowledgeable staff who have provided very tailored advice and support to a wide range of staff across our organisation.’
‘Good depth of team who are all very client aware.’
BP Exploration Operating Company
Balfour Beatty Group
University of Edinburgh
Diamond Offshore Drilling
Kier Construction Limited
City of Edinburgh Council
- Advised a construction contractor on criminal charges and the potential for a fatal accident inquiry following a fatal accident on a construction site in Scotland.
- Advised an oil major on the appeal of an improvement notice served by the Health and Safety Executive.
- Acted for Transocean following the boarding of the oil rig, Paul B Loyd Junior, at Cromarty Firth Port by environmental activists, obtaining an interdict at the Court of Session and liaised with the police in relation to the removal of the protestors. The protestors were found guilty of contempt of Court after breaching the interdict on two separate occasions, and were fined £80,000.
Brodies LLP provides regular incident response assistance, including internal, police and HSE investigations alongside fatal accident inquiries, as well as on-going regulatory and compliance advice. Its non-contentious offering extends to corporate support, where the team advises on the health and safety risks pertaining to a corporate transactions. Much of its work stems from the fishing and marine, leisure, energy (including oil and gas) and construction sectors but the team also acts for other industries. Team head Elena Fry covers both criminal and civil litigation aspects arising from health and safety incidents and is supported by senior associate Victoria Anderson.
Other key lawyers:
Duncan MacLean; Paul Marshall; Malcolm Mackay; Laura McMillan; Victoria Anderson
‘Very engaging team; easy to work with and strong on collaboration. Assured and confident with offering their advice in a way that is clear and readily digestible. They embraced the additional challenges of working in a COVID-safe environment and the final stages of our case were all handled remotely; great support from their IT side made the process seamless.’
‘There’s a genuine sense of ‘partnering’ in the work to present the best case; this partnership approach ensures an appropriate flow of information back and forth without having any unhelpful ‘stilted’ conversations. The team was flexible to our needs and availability and listened to feedback on what was working well, etc.’
‘Victoria Anderson has shown herself to be an exceptionally skilled lawyer in the field of health and safety. Her dedication to clients and getting the best outcome is very impressive. She is thorough in her preparation and great to work with.’
‘Brodies LLP has been invaluable to us. Brodies’ team connects seamlessly to provide exceptional support just when you need it.’
‘Of course, exceptional individuals make an exceptional team. As individuals, all contacts at Brodies have been exceptional; great accessibility, strong amenable characters, expert advice at the right level. Stand out for me in this area is Malcolm Mackay.’
‘Brodies LLP has a positive, client-friendly approach. They appreciate that their engagement is because a task requires to be done and they carry out their responsibilities and duties with proven expertise and alacrity.’
‘Elena Fry and Victoria Anderson are both really great in this field. Both are excellent lawyers with brilliant client skills and knowledge of the law in the field.’
‘Brodies offers free virtual seminars on topics which affect the industry and could have an impact on the company. I have found these to be very informative while allowing those involved to ask questions of the team and being provided with specific answers directly related to their work. I have also found the team to work collaboratively, with different team members working together offering their strengths and knowledge.’
Advance Construction Group
City Holdings Ltd
Babcock International Group
National Express Group
North of England P&I
Associated British Ports
Aberdeen City Council
- Represented Cameron House Hotel following a fire at the hotel in December 2017. Two people died and the hotel was very badly damaged. Following an investigation by regulators, the hotel was prosecuted for breaching fire safety regulations.
- Instructed by Sunderland Marine and owners of MFV Nancy Glen to investigate and deal with all the regulatory follow-up of the sinking of a fishing vessel with the loss of two lives. This includes representing the owners in the fatal accident inquiry.
- Instructed by the owners of Forth Guardsman and Sunderland Marine Insurance to investigate the death of a seafarer during a mooring operation on a cable laying vessel at an anchorage off a remote Scottish island, and to deal with the regulatory investigation which followed. This included representing the owner’s interests at the fatal accident inquiry into the death.
Clyde & Co LLP has a strong insurer client base and, as a result of this, is regularly called upon to advise on fatalities and serious injuries arising in the working environment. Its work spans various sectors such as agriculture, transport, manufacturing and construction. As well as advising clients on health and safety investigations by the police, HSE, MCA, FCA, AAIB and SEPA, the team - and practice head and solicitor advocate Mark Donaldson in particular - also handle matters arising from road traffic offences.
Other key lawyers:
‘Clyde & Co’s health and safety team in Scotland benefits from practical experience of both civil and criminal cases. This is invaluable and being a small team, they are easily contactable.’
‘A respected practice with UK and worldwide coverage.’
‘Mark Donaldson is certainly the go-to solicitor for serious health and safety cases involving death or serious injury occurring north of Scotland’s central belt. A skilled negotiator, he regularly achieves fantastic results for clients out of court as well as in court. Real top drawer stuff’
‘The health and safety team is led by Mark Donaldson in Aberdeen. Mark is extremely experienced, very able and has great judgement; a true expert in the field.’
‘The team in Scotland has extensive experience of prosecutions, fatal accident inquiries and public inquiries arising from accidents in the workplace.’
‘Ann Bonomy is the stand-out individual in the team. She combines brilliant tactical awareness with extensive knowledge of the law; she is client-focused and gets results. Her in-depth knowledge, breadth of experience and pragmatic approach make her extremely sought after by clients.’
‘Very client-focused and appreciative of the client’s business.’
‘We dealt with Mark Donaldson on a long-running health and safety case which ended this year. He had a fantastic grasp of detail and an ability to cut through to only the relevant information and arguments. He was also mindful of the impact of the case on our reputation and financial reporting and always made sure his advice was not just legally correct but answered the concerns of our plc board.’
Regis/Outdoor Activities Mutual
- Instructed by the farming partnership D Ramsay & Son to represent its interests at the fatal accident inquiry pertaining to a death of a haulage driver who had attended to collect hay bales being sold by the partnership.
- Acted for an Aviva policyholder in a dangerous driving prosecution.
- Acted for a Jedburgh-based insured factory operator in an internal investigation following a significant injury incurred by an employee operating an extrusion machine.
BLM is well versed in handling HSE and police investigations alongside fatal accident inquiries for companies and, to a lesser extent, individuals. Its corporate client base spans a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and retail. 'Outstanding' team head Zoe McDonnell was promoted to partner in October 2020 and is experienced in conducting trials in the summary and solemn courts for clients accused of causing death and serious injury.
‘Zoe McDonnell is absolutely outstanding in health and safety. She is determined to give the clients the best outcome and really does go the extra mile for them. She is a very astute court lawyer and very tactical in her approach. She has a really lovely manner with clients that really puts them at ease.’
‘A small team ably led by Zoe McDonnell; highly responsive and client-focussed. The small team allows a level of personal attention and care which clients clearly appreciate.’
‘Zoe McDonnell is the stand-out partner who leads the team in Scotland. She has wide experience in the area and is respected by clients, counsel and the courts alike. Zoe adopts a meticulous approach to preparation; she is pragmatic and tactically aware.’
Embedded in the firm's UK-wide health and safety practice, CMS' Scotland team is led by Aberdeen-based solicitor advocate Jan Burgess, who - as a reflection of the team's industry specialism - acts for a number of multinationals engaged in the offshore oil and gas industry. Typically, instructions in this space pertain to fire safety, offshore fatalities and general compliance but the team has recently also handled fatal accident investigations and other health and safety issues for waste, leisure, real estate and public sector clients.
- Advised Veolia ES (UK) Limited following an incident in 2018, involving the conclusion of the FAI in December 2020.
DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP
Working in close conjunction with various other teams within the firm enables DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP to cover a broad regulatory spectrum and represent clients in health and safety investigations by the police, HSE, the Covid-19 Deaths Investigation team (CDIT) and local authorities as well as in subsequent prosecutions. Its work covers various sectors with recent instructions stemming from the construction, healthcare, manufacturing, energy and public sectors. The team jointly led by criminal law specialist Colin Bissett and Jamie Varney, who acts for companies and individuals, is noted for its extensive insurance client portfolio.
Colin Bissett; Jamie Varney
‘Jamie Varney brings years of experience in the field, combined with a commercial awareness and drive to achieve the best possible results for his clients. He is thoroughly approachable, and it is clear that his qualities are recognised and appreciated by clients.’
‘The team is a small and well-organised balance of youth and experience. They work well together and as individuals. In my experience they are organised and efficient in carrying out whatever task is at hand, be it dealing with research, case preparation or client management. They impress me with their ability to use their initiative and to get things done. In dealing with counsel they are happy to take on board the opinions and advice offered but also ready to discuss the case and help drive it forward with their own valid contributions.’
‘Jamie Varney is fantastic. He is brilliant at client care and cuts to the heart of a case right from the beginning meaning that clients know exactly what they are dealing with from the word go. He just gets it. He is supported by a good team of lawyers in the health and safety field.’
‘Colin Bissett is dedicated, approachable and clients trust him to deliver. He is effective at building the right team for the right case, carefully choosing expert witnesses and specialist counsel from the bar in serious cases to deliver excellent results for clients. He provides clear strategy and manages a case from start to finish with great care.’
‘Personable, knowledgeable and competent in their field, the team really do go the extra mile when providing advice. As we have got to know each other better they have recognized what we expect as a service and how our team/structure operates.’
‘All of the individuals that I deal with are professional and client-focused.’
‘In all my dealings with the team, they have stood out against other legal firms that I have used, giving clear concise advice in a manner that everyone understands. They have the ability to remove the jargon and say it as it is.’
AXA Corporate Solutions
Scottish Police Authority
Norbord Europe Limited
- Acted for the care home operator HC One in a Crown Office/HSE inquiry following a Covid-19 outbreak which has allegedly resulted in the deaths of ten residents.
- Instructed to advise and defend a statutory body during a HSE investigation and subsequent prosecution following an employee falling from height to serious injury during the course of his employment.
- Provided a global manufacturer with advice and representation during the joint HSE and police inquiry and associated prosecution following the fatal accident of an employee during an ash clearing task as part of its manufacturing process.
Acting for regulators is the cornerstone of Morton Fraser's practice; this includes fatal accident inquiries and appeals against enforcement and prohibition notices, such as those pertaining to offshore oil and gas installations and refineries as well as haulage and healthcare matters. Other clients include public sector bodies, charities and property developers. Solicitor advocate Jenny Dickson heads up the team and has particular expertise in fatal accident inquiries.
‘The team is responsive, clear, helpful, practical and provides good solutions to tricky problems.’
‘Jenny Dickson is an excellent lawyer who knows her stuff and can communicate complex issues clearly and succinctly. She is very responsive and delivers within timescales and budget.’
Health and Safety Executive
Air Accident Investigation Branch
Historic Environment Scotland
- Represented the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) in the Sumburgh helicopter fatal accident inquiry (FAI) following the accident which resulted in four fatalities.
- Representing the HSE in an appeal against an Improvement Notice which it served on Petrofac.
- Representing the Home Office in a fatal accident inquiry into a fatality at Dungavel detention centre.