Recognised by clients and peers alike, BTO Solicitors LLP's dedicated health and safety practice is regularly called upon to defend clients across various sectors - most notably construction, manufacturing and farming - in regulatory prosecutions and fatal accident inquiries. Criminal solicitor advocate and former procurator fiscal depute Clare Bone and solicitor advocate Vikki Watt jointly head the team from Glasgow. Associate and criminal solicitor advocate David Cairns and associate Lindsay MacNeill, who are both well versed in defending clients in regulatory prosecutions, are other key members of the team.
Health and safety in Scotland
BTO Solicitors LLP
‘BTO’s health and safety team is fantastic. They have a really good in-depth knowledge of the area, and their advice is well-considered, pragmatic, practical and hugely helpful.‘
‘Delivers consistent successful results. Fantastic teamwork. Strength in depth. Exceptional communications. Take pride in excelling. Cost effective.‘
‘All are professional, approachable and engaging. Unrivalled knowledge and experience. Absolutely dependable.‘
‘Clare Bone is excellent, very easy to work with and very knowledgeable but with practical application.‘
‘Vikki Watt is fantastic – hugely knowledgeable, pragmatic, sensible and always calm and considered.‘
‘David Cairns is a really good associate – thorough, helpful and personable.‘
M & D (Leisure) Ltd
IODS Pipe Clad Limited
Henderson & Aitken Limited
J. & A. Galloway Limited
BANN Joinery Limited
- Advised M & D (Leisure) Ltd on a police/ HSE investigation spanning 2.5 years, and on drafting submissions to successfully resist two challenges to the client’s entertainment licence mounted by Police Scotland.
- Advised SPIE Limited following a fatal accident.
- Advised BANN Joinery following one of its employees getting seriously injured after falling from an access ladder; the incident was subsequently investigated by the HSE.
- Instructed by IODS PipeClad Limited following a fatal accident at work, when an employee was killed after being struck on the head whilst attempting to manoeuvre one of a number of steel pipes within the client’s yard.
- Acted for J&A Galloway Limited in an investigation by the HSE following an incident which led to the death of one of its employees in the course of his employment.
Burness Paull LLP has oil and gas sector work at its core, providing assistance with incident investigations alongside fatal accident and public inquiries, while also representing businesses and individuals - including those from various other sectors - facing enforcement actions. Its non-contentious offering is also noteworthy and includes advice on offshore safety case regulations and compliance. Rona Jamieson heads the team and handles the full spectrum of health and safety work.
‘Burness Paull is one of the leading firms in Scotland in health and safety crime, and has an outstanding reputation in the oil and gas sector in particular.‘
‘The health and safety team has an impressive understanding of engineering matters relevant to the oil and gas industry. The advice received is always pragmatic and relevant and response times are immediate.‘
‘Burness Paull provides honest and fair advice.‘
‘Rona Jamieson provides outstanding advice in a manner that is well understood and received by senior management.’
‘Rona Jamieson leads the health and safety team, and is one of the leading practitioners in Scotland. She is a true specialist in the subject, has a wealth of experience, and excellent judgment ensuring clients always receive realistic and practical advice.‘
‘Lynne Gray became a partner in 2019 and will be a tremendous asset. She has great experience, is thoroughly professional, and understands the needs of clients, in particular in the oil and gas sector in which she specialises.‘
Babcock International Group
- Advised Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore Limited (BMCSOL), formerly Bond Helicopter, on a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) following a helicopter owned and operated by Bond Helicopter crashed onto the Clutha Bar in Glasgow.
- Represented Marathon Oil in a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act and offshore safety regulations following a large high pressure hydrocarbon gas release on the Brae Alpha offshore installation.
- Advising Total on various health and safety law matters, such as the effects of shift working, human factors and fatigue on safety critical tasks.
- Representing Monkey Bars (Aberdeen) Limited in a prosecution for food safety breaches.
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP is best known for its energy and construction sector expertise but the team also acts for public sector bodies in HSE investigations and investigations conducted by other accident investigation bodies alongside fatal accident inquiries and associated Court of Session proceedings. Providing clients with non-contentious compliance and regulatory advice is another key element of the practice led by Laura Cameron, who also serves as global head of the firm's risk advisory group. Legal director Katherine Metcalfe is rated for her expertise in fire safety.
‘The team advised on a health of safety matter which was ongoing for a number of years. At the start of the matter, they were very responsive and provided much needed crisis management advice. Over the following years, they very much became our trusted adviser and helped us to manage the matter to a successful resolution. They demonstrated an in-depth legal knowledge but were also pragmatic and gave us strategic advice.‘
‘Pinsent Masons has a strong H&S team in Scotland. Of particular note is the strength of the fire safety practice and their knowledge of H&S in the construction sector.‘
‘Pinsent Masons has one of the largest regulatory teams in Scotland, with a wide range of expertise in health and safety and other regulatory cases including financial crime and off-shore, oil and gas and shipping work. They have the strength and depth of a large well-resourced team, capable of managing large and complex investigations.‘
‘All members of the team were friendly, approachable and professional and we developed a close working relationship. Laura Cameron clearly has a wealth of experience and she employs it to good effect, giving strategic but practical advice.‘
‘Bruce Craig in the Aberdeen office is worthy of special mention. He has a background in oil & gas and shipping work and has a great depth of expertise in the area. He is knowledgeable, pragmatic in approach and highly client-focussed.‘
BP Exploration Operating Company
Balfour Beatty Group
The University of Edinburgh
Diamond Offshore Drilling
- Instructed by Transocean to obtain an interdict at the Court of Session and liaise with the police following the boarding of an oil rig at Cromarty Firth Port by environmental activists.
Brodies LLP is particularly active in the fishing and marine industries, advising insurers and their policyholders on investigations following the loss of vessels, alongside serious and fatal accidents, but the practice also receives regular instructions from construction and energy sector clients to assist with HSE investigations and regulatory compliance matters. Elena Fry heads the insurance and risk team and is noted for her criminal and civil litigation capabilities.
‘The team at Brodies has always shown exceptional professionalism and ensures consistent advice in a timely manner, always ensuring the best support no matter what time of the day. A very personal service.‘
‘Elena Fry is knowledgeable and professional throughout.‘
‘Laura McMillan put everyone at ease as necessary throughout, providing valuable guidance.‘
Advance Construction Group
City Holdings Ltd
Babcock International Group
National Express Group
North of England P&I
Aberdeen City Council
- Continues to act for Sunderland Marine Insurance Company and the owners of MFV Nancy Glen in matters arising from the loss of the fishing vessel Nancy Glen and the lives of two of her crew. The team supported the owners during the initial investigation by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and has continued to advise the insurer and support the owners in the ongoing investigation by the MAIB, the police and the procurator fiscal.
- Acting for the owners of Forth Guardsman/ Sunderland Marine Insurance in investigating and subsequently dealing with the claims arising out of a fatality involving a Polish seafarer on board a cable-laying barge.
- Continues to advise CalMac Ferries and Serco NorthLink on health and safety claims made against them by passengers.
- Assisted the owners of a fishing vessel/ Sunderland Marine Insurance with police, MCA and MAIB investigations following a crew member on board a twin rig prawn trawler getting seriously injured.
- Instructed by the insurers of Ocean Quest and Peter and J Johnston to conduct an investigation following the sinking of the trawler Ocean Quest and the evacuation of the crew by airlift.
Clyde & Co LLP is regularly called upon to assist with health and safety investigations and prosecutions arising from serious and fatal accidents in, among others, the construction and transport sectors, and frequently acts for insurers. Handling matters pertaining to dangerous and careless driving and subsequent road traffic prosecutions is another key element of the team led by Aberdeen-based solicitor advocate Mark Donaldson.
Other key lawyers:
‘I rate the team at Aberdeen very highly for their concise and accurate instructions, the timely provision of evidence and generally for keeping me abreast of any developments with the case.’
‘Clyde & Co has a small but highly effective and much sought after regulatory team in Scotland specialising in health and safety and road traffic work. They are extremely well instructed by large corporate clients and insurers, which is a testament to the quality of service offered.‘
‘Very experienced health and safety regulatory practice, unlike many firms they have a presence in the north of Scotland which makes them ideally positioned for cases in this area.‘
‘Very professional and knowledgeable about the matters at hand, they were able to dig deep to allow us to open up about the situation we found ourselves in and to appreciate what we needed to do to defend ourselves.‘
‘The team is particularly strong at incident response, travelling all over Scotland at very short notice to attend at accident sites. The firm also works closely with specialist counsel in the preparation and presentation of cases at court.‘
‘They are usually accessible and often return calls or emails outside normal office hours. In my dealings with Mark Donaldson, I have always found him to be approachable and enthusiastic. In my experience, his interaction with a client during case preparation or while at court is always supportive, relevant and compassionate.‘
‘Mark Donaldson is very experienced and especially adept at putting clients at ease. Knowledge of the local area in the north of Scotland which is very useful.’
‘Mark Donaldson is especially good at strategic incident response, where he is on-scene to advise clients from the earliest stages of an investigation. He has a clear vision as to how cases should be prepared and gets very good results for clients through his meticulous planning, attention to detail and diligence.‘
‘Ann Bonomy is the stand-out individual. She is experienced, knowledgeable, and tactically astute. Her client handling skills are exemplary. She maintains an impressive caseload of high quality work, mainly in fatal workplace accidents. I cannot praise her highly enough. Ann also maintains her own court practice, taking many cases to trial herself, which gives her an unrivalled degree of credibility.’
‘Ann Bonomy is an excellent and reliable practitioner in the health and safety regulatory field.’
William Munro Construction (Highland) Limited
R. B. Wilson (Electrical) Limited
- Advising Angus Braidwood & Sons Limited on charges alleging health and safety breaches following a serious injury suffered by an employee.
- Represented a tipper lorry driver following an accident that killed a colleague; the client was charged with causing death by careless driving.
- Acted for R B Wilson (Electrical) Limited in charges of breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act arising from injuries suffered by two elderly residents of a house where the client was carrying out extensive renovation work on behalf of the local authority.
- Acted for William Munro Construction (Highland) Limited, facing seven charges arising out of an accident at one of its recycling plants where an employee was trapped inside machinery and severely crushed. The team was successful in reducing the initial seven charges to one charge.
BLM is well placed to assist clients with HSE investigations and fatal incident inquiries including various associated regulatory and criminal matters. In October 2019, Zoe McDonnell took over the practice and acts for companies and individuals across a range of industries, such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing and distribution.
‘BLM has a small but highly effective team specialising in health and safety work in Scotland. The team is also experienced in dealing with road traffic cases and fatal accident inquiries. The team, led by Zoe McDonnell, is dedicated, experienced and with particularly strong client focus.‘
‘They are able to provide team members with a range of specialties.‘
‘They take on a range of cases from the biggest, high-profile matters to smaller ones but their approach remains consistently professional and pragmatic. Their advice and representation is first rate and they quickly get to the heart of an issue.‘
‘The team is lead by Zoe McDonnell who is utterly brilliant in her approach to client management, the law and getting the best for the client. She has a mainstream criminal background and displays all the common sense and directness that comes with that. That knowledge and ability have transferred to the benefit of everyone she works with, including insurers, counsel and clients. Her advice and approach to clients is always spot-on and she is incredibly kind to the humans who run organisations putting them at ease with the situation they find themselves in, and the process that is happening around them.‘
‘Zoe McDonnell is a star. She leads her small but effective team from the front. Zoe is experienced in the investigation and defence of large corporates and individuals alike. She brings a wealth of practical experience and is highly client focused. Highly recommended.‘
‘Zoe McDonnell is a very skilful and no-nonsense operator whose incisive knowledge inspires confidence.‘
‘In particular Zoe McDonnell has done excellent work for us. Zoe’s technique for technical data gathering is very effective, always accurate.‘
‘Zoe McDonnell sees problems before they are problems and has worked out how to address them before they happen. It is almost as if she can see into the minds of the prosecution.‘
CMS has a focus on the offshore and energy sectors, leading to regular instructions from multinational energy companies, but the team is also well placed to assist clients from other sectors - such as construction, leisure and the public sector - on regulatory compliance, prosecutions, investigations and corporate governance. Solicitor advocate Jan Burgess heads the team and, as a dual qualified lawyer, splits her time between Aberdeen and London.
‘The team is lead by Jan Burgess, who is utterly faultless in her advice and approach to dealing with health and safety prosecutions. Every member of the team takes their lead and guidance from her. Jan trusts her team to get it right and that makes for a very strong team with very capable individual players.‘
‘Jan Burgess is utterly outstanding in her knowledge and wisdom. Great with reassuring anxious directors and making the process of prosecution in Scotland as bearable as it can be.‘
DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP
DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP has received a significant boost with the arrival of Jamie Varney from BLM in November 2019; he represents companies and individuals in prosecutions, fatal accident inquiries and regulatory investigations by the police, local authorities, Food Safety EHO, the Health and Safety Executive, ORR and SEPA. The practice co-led by Colin Bissett, who is experienced in litigation, criminal defence and regulatory matters, is best known for its large insurance client base but it also acts for corporates, most notably from the construction sector, and public sector bodies.
‘DAC Beachcroft (Scotland) operates in the health and safety crime field, acting principally on behalf of insured clients. In the last 12 months Jamie Varney has joined the team as a partner from BLM. Jamie will be a huge asset, and will raise the profile of Beachcrofts in this area considerably.‘
‘The health and safety team is responsive and accessible, particularly Jamie Varney. Jamie has taken the time to fully understand our business and its unique structure and funding model, which informs his pragmatic advice.‘
‘The arrival of Jamie Varney is a huge asset. He is passionate about health and safety, is a true specialist, and combines that knowledge and experience very effectively with a practical and pragmatic approach to cases.‘
‘The team in Scotland became a powerhouse with the arrival of Jamie Varney last year. Jamie is a star performer in health and safety and took his vast knowledge of the law and the industry to DAC. It is my opinion that he has really raised the profile of DAC in Scotland as a health and safety defender firm and has made the whole team much more focussed in their approach to the defence of prosecutions.‘
‘Jamie Varney brings experience and high-profile corporate and insurance clients. The team has strength and depth and the resourcing of a large firm necessary to take on big cases. Definitely a team to watch going forward.‘
‘Jamie Varney is the stand-out partner. He brings a wealth of experience and good relationships with corporate and insurer clients alike. Jamie has exemplary case management and client-handling skills.‘
‘Jamie Varney offers incisive advice in an accessible way and fully understands the culture and needs of our organisation.‘
‘Jamie Varney has vast experience in health and safety crime – his addition to the team substantially strengthens the already goof offering.‘
‘Colin Bissett brings welcome criminal law experience to the health and safety sector.‘
AXA Corporate Solutions
- Advising an engineering company and insured of AXA Corporate Solutions on a fatality involving three other corporations who hold duties under the CDM regulations.
- Representing a Scottish charity in relation to the fatality of a service user under the care of a subcontractor who was participating in an open river water activity.
- Acted for a multinational manufacturing company in relation to a fatality at one of its manufacturing plants; this included advice and representation during the joint HSE and police inquiry as well as defending a prosecution.
- Successfully persuaded the HSE to take no further action against a national house builder client following a fall from height incident on one of its residential construction sites.
- Advising a national statutory corporation following a fall from height incident at a work site; the team was instructed to advise and defend the company during the regulatory investigation and any forthcoming prosecution.
Morton Fraser is best known for carrying out fatal accident inquiries for regulators such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but also acts for local authorities and advises on breaches of health and safety law. Solicitor advocate Jenny Dickson heads the practice.
‘In my experience Jenny Dickson’s team is very professional and organised and provides a very good offering.‘
‘Jenny Dickson is very good.‘
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Air Accident Investigation Branch
- Continues to act for the Department for Transport and Air Accident Investigation Branch in the fatal accident inquiry following the police helicopter crash in the centre of Glasgow in 2013.
- Acting for the Department for Transport and Air Accident Investigation Branch in a fatal accident inquiry due to commence in 2020 following a helicopter crash in 2013 near the Shetland Isles.
- Advising the Health and Safety Executive in an appeal against a prohibition notice where an offshore oil and gas refinery had a degraded metal flame tip on the top of the burn-off tower.