Health and safety in Scotland

BTO Solicitors LLP

BTO Solicitors LLP stands out for its extensive blue-chip insurer client base but also receives an increasing number of private instructions from companies across various sectors. This broad client roster is testament to the team’s wide-ranging expertise in regulatory prosecutions and fatal accident inquiries by the police, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), local authorities and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Key names include solicitor advocate Vikki Watt and senior associate Lindsay MacNeill, who are based in Glasgow. Recently, the team has dealt with an increasing number of fatal accident inquiries but it covers the full spectrum of health and safety work. Working in close conjunction with the firm’s employment and commercial litigation teams, the group is also well placed to provide compliance advice.

Practice head(s):

Vikki Watt

Other key lawyers:

Lindsay MacNeill

Testimonials

‘The BTO health and safety/ regulatory team has a long-standing pedigree in Scotland. A trusted and respected practice.’

‘BTO’s health & safety team deserves its great reputation – they obviously know their stuff and provide a great service to clients.’

‘The Health & Safety team at BTO punches well above its weight, and is justifiably well respected in the marketplace. The combination of genuine expertise at partner level and enthusiastic junior resource is compelling.’

‘Lindsay McNeill is one of the best assistants in this field – a ferociously hard worker and an an innovative thinker, she works very well with counsel.

‘Vikki Watt is an excellent practitioner with a great knowledge of health and safety law, and is helpful at helping establish what this means in practice.’

Key clients

Egger

Survitec

Aberdeenshire Council

RSA

Enviraz (Scotland) Limited

Restore Digital Limited

AIG UK Limited

NFU Mutual Insurance Society Limited

CHUBB European Group Limited

Tokio Marine

Work highlights

  • Represented Egger UK Limited in relation to a fatal health and safety investigation by the HSE and subsequent prosecution by the Crown.
  • Representing the Survitec Group, manufacturers of life saving equipment, in a fatal accident inquiry held into the deaths of three fisherman.
  • Representing Enviraz (Scotland) Limited in the health and safety investigation and prosecution that followed an explosion at site, which killed one employee and seriously injured another.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is a regular fixture on police, HSE and Environmental Health Officer (EHO) investigations and related enforcement actions, inquests and prosecutions but the team also puts significant emphasis on preventative advisory work. Its clients are typically drawn from high-risk sectors, such as energy, construction and infrastructure. Its energy and shipping sector work is often led by the Aberdeen-based Bruce Craig, while legal director Katherine Metcalfe in Glasgow is the key contact for building and fire safety matters. Both are part of the risk and advisory group led by Laura Cameron (Glasgow).

Practice head(s):

Laura Cameron

Testimonials

‘Deep regulatory knowledge and experience of regulatory and court practice. Very client focused.’

‘Huge strength in depth.’

‘The Aberdeen health and safety/ regulatory team is now the stand-out regulatory practice in Aberdeen, with a high degree of expertise in offshore/ oil and gas and maritime cases, as well as broader health and safety practice.’

Preparation is assiduous and their attention to detail, and the intellectual rigour brought to each case is unsurpassed. The most talented team of solicitors in the field, led by the superlative Laura Cameron.’

‘Katherine Metcalfe is an absolute star – really responsive, knowledgeable, client focused and deeply knowledgeable.’

‘Katherine Metcalfe is truly outstanding: the rare combination of fierce work ethic and a brilliant mind. One of the very best lawyers I have come across in over 30 years in the professions.’

‘Bruce Craig has decades of oil and gas HSE experience.’

‘Bruce Craig in exceptional. He has a wealth of experience in offshore/ shipping/ fishing/ maritime cases – a real expert in the field. This he combines with a pragmatic and client-focussed approach.’

Key clients

BP Exploration Operating Company

Shell UK

Balfour Beatty Group

BAM Nuttall Limited

Peel Ports

Galliford Try

University of Edinburgh

Transocean

Valaris

Diamond Offshore Drilling

Celtic Plc

Kier Construction Limited

MacFarlan Smith

City of Edinburgh Council

IKEA Limited

British Marine

TT Club

Skuld

Petrofac Facilities Management

Work highlights

  • Advised a construction company on a fatal accident involving a member of the public.
  • Advised a construction company on the investigation into a serious lifting incident.
  • Advised Petrofac on an enforcement notice appeal.

Brodies LLP

Following the retirement of Elena Fry in May 2021, Brodies LLP‘s health and safety practice is now jointly led by Glasgow-based senior associate Victoria Anderson and Edinburgh-based corporate crime and investigations specialist Paul Marshall , while respected practitioner Clare Bone also recently joined the team from BTO Solicitors LLP. This set-up enables the practice to assist clients from various hazardous industries with regulatory investigations, prosecutions and fatal accident inquiries. Marshall and the Aberdeen-based Malcolm Mackay routinely act for energy sector players, while fatal accidents in the shipping and fishing sector are typically handled by the Edinburgh-based Duncan MacLean.

Other key lawyers:

Duncan MacLean; Malcolm Mackay; Laura McMillan; Clare Bone

Testimonials

‘Brodies have been exceptional with their attention to detail and are very good at keeping us, their client, informed. They bill their fees each month – which we like – and there is a full breakdown of the invoice constituents – no nasty surprises!’

‘The main feature of Brodies we find is the accessibility of staff and the manner of engagement – they are excellent at building a trusted relationship with the client, where they feel almost like partners in your business rather than ‘externals’.’

‘Victoria Anderson is simply brilliant. Incredibly bright and hard working. She leaves no stone unturned on behalf of her clients and is a fantastic tactical thinker. She really is a super star.’

‘Duncan Maclean and Victoria Anderson head up a specialist team dealing with maritime/ offshore cases, as well as other health and safety cases. Their depth of knowledge and experience in this niche area of health and safety practice sets them apart.’

‘Duncan Maclean is extremely knowledgeable, confident when dealing with the authorities and able to command respect.

‘Laura McMillan is a most capable court practitioner, who is always very well prepared and has the ear of the court.’

‘Clare Bone is exceptional. A recognised leader in the field in Scotland. She handles difficult, complex and high-profile cases with quiet assurance.’

‘Clare Bone is a superstar – it can be said that she personifies the “iron fist in a velvet glove” – her calm and measured approach belies, not only her unsurpassed experience and an encyclopedic knowledge, but also an unwavering determination to get the very best outcome. She is an outstanding solicitor.’

Key clients

CHC Helicopters

Sunderland Marine

Standard Club P&I

Cameron House Hotel Ltd

Subsea 7

INEOS Chemicals Grangemouth Limited

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the owners of Cameron House Hotel (Loch Lomond Ltd) following a serious fire which resulted in two fatalities; the team supported the client through the multi-agency investigation and subsequent criminal prosecution.
  • Represented the owners of the vessel MV Nancy Glen following its capsize in January 2019 and the subsequent death of two crew members. The team secured a decision of no prosecution and represented the vessel owners at the subsequent fatal accident inquiry held in 2021.
  • Represented Premium Liferaft Services (PLS) in connection with all legal processes arising from the sinking of the fishing boat MV Louisa that resulted in the loss of three lives.

Burness Paull LLP

Led from its Aberdeen office by Lynne Gray, Burness Paull LLP‘s health and safety and crisis response team has a strong profile for offshore energy work, guiding oil and gas but also renewable energy companies through HSE, Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR) and police investigations and prosecutions, including those arising from offshore helicopter accidents. Together with director Lynne Moss, Gray also routinely provides ESG, compliance and risk management advice. Other prominent sectors include food and drink and transport.

Practice head(s):

Lynne Gray

Other key lawyers:

Lynne Moss

Testimonials

‘Their knowledge and experience in this field has been invaluable and we would highly recommend the team for their pragmatic and clear advice.’

We value their flexibility and responsiveness, often working out of hours to meet the needs of our business.’

‘Lynne Gray is very client focused, providing clear, pragmatic advice on HSE issues.’

‘Lynne Gray has provided us with excellent advice for a number of years and we would highly recommend Lynne for her experience in advising oil and gas companies in relation to HSE matters.

‘Lynne Moss is very knowledgeable and provides clear guidance on HSE-related matters.

Key clients

Repsol Sinopec

Arnold Clark

Apache

Royal Rosyth Dockyard

Work highlights

  • Represented an oil and gas company at a criminal prosecution following an offshore environmental incident in 2014.
  • Advising an oil and gas company following a fire on an offshore installation.
  • Advising a large independent retail and distribution company on managing asbestos risks across their significant portfolio of assets.

Clyde & Co

Clyde & Co‘s merged with BLM in July 2022; the team is now led by Aberdeen-based solicitor advocate Mark Donaldson. The practice handles instructions from insurers arising from fatalities and serious injuries in the working environment. This includes the representation of companies as well as individuals in HSE and police investigations alongside prosecutions but the practice also handles other regulatory investigations, such as those conducted by the MCA, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and SEPA. Legal director Ann Bonomy‘s expertise extends to road traffic prosecutions.

Practice head(s):

Mark Donaldson

Other key lawyers:

Ann Bonomy

Testimonials

‘Clyde’s regulatory team in Scotland covers a wide geographic area which is very useful for carriers with risk appetite in the offshore, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.’

‘They engage and work constructively with suitable expert witnesses to ensure that the technical aspects of complex cases are investigated properly and understood thoroughly.’

‘Key strengths are responding to incidents wherever they occur in Scotland with speed, dealing with accident site investigations, and HSE or police interviews under caution.’

‘Mark Donaldson is a true health and safety specialist, providing partner-led input in all health and safety cases from day one.’

‘Mark Donaldson was a stand out individual for me in particular as he was at hand to provide support and guidance. His unflappable approach to the task was very steadying and his approach to all parties was professional and in general a major positive.’

‘Ann Bonomy is the star in Scotland. She combines a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience with a pragmatic and client-centred approach. Always striving to achieve the best result for clients.’

Key clients

BNP Paribas Real Estate & Property Management Limited

Freshney Developments

Neil Beattie

BSW Sawmills Limited

Chivas Brothers

D Copeland Engineering Limited

Piers Le Cheminat

Leiths (Scotland) Limited

Newtown Auto Centre Limited t/a Hope Scott Garage

Work highlights

  • Acted for BNP Paribas Real Estate and Property Management Limited in relation to a fatal accident inquiry at Aberdeen Sheriff Court following the death of a tenant undertaking construction works at an agricultural site managed by them.
  • Represented Leiths (Scotland) Limited in relation to criminal charges on indictment and the potential for a fatal accident inquiry following one of its employees being fatally injured by equipment at a quarry.
  • Advised Chivas Brothers in relation to a prosecution on indictment for health and safety failings identified as a result of one of its contractor’s employees sustaining serious injury at one of its bottling premises.

Anderson Strathern

Representing the HSE in enforcement notice appeals constitutes a key portion of Anderson Strathern’s health and safety work but it also provides other public authorities, education institutions and corporates with regular compliance advice. Directors Laura McCabe (solicitor advocate) and Sarah Phillips (litigator and personal injury specialist) are the key contacts in Edinburgh, while director James McMillan, who heads the firm’s corporate crime, regulatory and investigation team, is based in Glasgow.

Testimonials

‘They provide a full range of services in health and safety, including advisory work and representation in civil claims.’

‘Efficient and responsive. They provide a first-class service’.

‘Good strong team, works well both internally and with clients, works well with the Scottish bar and looks for intelligent solutions.’

‘Sarah Phillips is an experienced, knowledgeable and able solicitor who deals effectively with clients and opponents and is a good performer in court.’

‘Sarah Phillips is very easy to deal with, calm and knowledgeable. Good client handling skills.’

‘Sarah Phillips is very dedicated to her clients and will go the extra mile for them.

‘Laura McCabe is very knowledgeable about HSE law and practice. Thorough in her investigation of cases and tactically savvy. A pleasure to work with.’

‘James McMillan has built up considerable experience and knowledge over the last 10 years. Impressive!’

Key clients

Health and Safety Executive

Scottish Prison Service

Scottish Water

Scottish Midland Co-operative Society Limited (Scotmid)

European Union Aviation Safety Agency

McAlpine Plumbing Products

The Scottish Government

Office of the Advocate General

Crown Estates Scotland

Merlin Entertainments Group

The University of Strathclyde

The University of St Andrews

Royal College of Nursing

Sailors Society

Inverness College UHI

Ineos FPS Limited

Scotwest Seafoods Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Scottish Prison Service in fatal accident inquiries.
  • Principal legal advisers in Scotland to the HSE, providing regular assistance with enforcement notice appeals and policy decisions.
  • Acting for Inverness College UHI following the death of a young student on campus. This includes advice on corporate homicide, health and safety risks of prosecution and general compliance.

DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP

As an integral part of its UK-wide safety, health and environment group, DAC Beachcroft Scotland LLP is routinely retained by national and international insurance and corporate clients and has a clear focus on the former. While the practice is led from Leeds, Jamie Varney continues to be the main contact in Scotland. He is based in Glasgow and guides clients through HSE and police investigations alongside fatal accident inquiries. Much of his recent work stemmed from the construction, healthcare, charity and transport sectors.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Varney

Other key lawyers:

Zoe McDonnell

Testimonials

‘This team provides excellent advice and representation across the spectrum of health & safety offences and fatal accident inquiries, including road traffic.’

‘This is simply a strong all-round team delivering effective advice rooted in a deep appreciation of the challenges of the sector and the commercial realities.’

‘This is a very joined up and organised and diligent team. It’s clear their clients have great confidence in them and so they should. They go the extra mile.’

They attract good quality cases as a result of excellent insurer relationships and their sheer hard work on the cases in which they are instructed. They work well with external specialist health & safety counsel.’

‘Jamie Varney’s vast experience in this area of litigation and inquiry work is second to none.’

‘Jamie Varney has a total command of health and safety law and practice. He is vastly experienced and totally respected across the sector. His advice is clear and well considered and his case preparation is exemplary. A top practitioner in every way.’

‘Jamie Varney is exceptional. Highly personable and client friendly; and engenders trust and fosters a highly professional and productive team.’

‘Jamie Varney is a stand-out leader, passionate about his role and the best interests of his clients.’

‘Zoe McDonnell is responsive, pragmatic and dedicated. She is highly experienced, both in the subject matter and in court work. This affords her a high level of credibility with clients, counsel and the courts alike. One of a very few true health and safety / regulatory specialists in Scotland.’

Key clients

AXA

AXA Corporate Solutions

AXA XL

AIG

Admiral

Zurich

Zurich Municipal

Aviva

QBE

Allianz

NFU Mutual

Liberty Global

HDI Global

Newline Group

Travelers

Scottish Police Authority

HC-One

Barratt Developments

Norbord Europe Limited

Robertson Group

Speedy Asset Hire plc

Scottish Water

Quarriers

Work highlights

  • Acted for HC One, one of the UK’s largest care home operators, who were prosecuted on indictment in relation to the death of a resident following a choking incident.
  • Instructed to represent and defend a national health care provider in relation to the fatal incident of a service user following the failure of work equipment. Providing advice in relation to the subsequent Police Scotland investigation.
  • Advising and representing a national plant hire and specialist services provider in relation to a potential prosecution for allegations under health and safety legislation and regulations following the failure of industrial lifting equipment.

Morton Fraser

Acting for regulators, such as the HSE, in fatal accident inquiries and in appeals against enforcement and prohibition notices is the primary focus of Morton Fraser‘s team led by personal injury and professional negligence specialist Jenny Dickson in Edinburgh. Companies also instruct the team to assist with compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Dickson

Testimonials

‘Morton Fraser’s health and safety team has good detailed knowledge and an excellent ability to analyse complex cases and advise in a practical and clear manner.’

High-quality advice.’

‘Jenny Dickson is approachable and provides very clear, well-reasoned, accurate and helpful advice.’

Key clients

Health and Safety Executive

Air Accident Investigation Branch

Historic Environment Scotland

Work highlights

  • Representing the Home Office in a fatal accident inquiry arising from a death at a detention centre.
  • Acting for the Health & Safety Executive in defence of a notice appeal in the oil and gas sector.
  • Acting for the Health & Safety Executive in defence of a notice appeal in the haulage sector.