Health and safety in South West

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP offers clients significant experience in both civil and criminal health and safety matters. It is well known for its strong rail safety practice, led by group head Ann Metherall, which advises on a significant number of rail accident cases across the UK. Sian Edmunds leads the firm's unique food safety group. This segment combines expertise in health and safety law and product liability to work with food manufacturer clients. The firm also works with a range of prestigious farming, retail, engineering and government clients.

Practice head(s):

Ann Metherall

Other key lawyers:

Sian Edmunds

Key clients

The Crown Estate

London and South Eastern Railways

FirstGroup PLC

John Lewis Partnership plc

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP provides exceptional support on regulatory and investigatory health and safety matters to its clients. Its Bristol office, a key part of the firm's large global network of offices, is particularly renowned for its work on behalf of leading insurers, receiving instructions from multiple top ten insurance groups. The team also acts on behalf of national and international corporate clients, representing them during investigations and providing training support to HR departments. Richard Ottley and recently promoted partner Ian Manners co-lead the team, with respective expertise in agricultural work and work with insured companies. Bridget Sanger is also regarded for matters involving food and beverages companies.

Practice head(s):

Richard Ottley; Ian Manners

Other key lawyers:

Bridget Sanger


‘Ian Manners runs an engaging, efficient and client-focused team which he leads by example. They will always step up to assist, even with very tight timeframes, and have never turned away work, unless conflicted.

‘The entire team is excellent and it is clear that Ian seeks to allow individuality but with a common purpose and stamp of authenticity. Their ability to focus on the key issues and work towards building an inexorable set of arguments to persuade the coroner or others is universal. This coupled with their pragmatic approach means that they are the go-to for health and safety for my team. ’

‘This is a very busy team dealing with the full range of H&S defence work from smaller organisations right through to some very large corporates. The team have very strong insurer relationships.’

‘Both Ian Manners and Richard Ottley are highly experienced and lead a team of talented lawyers. In my view, the team is one of the best in the south west. They are particularly responsive and take pride in their ability to react quickly to support their clients in the immediate aftermath of a serious health and safety incident.’

‘Richard Ottley is incredibly easy to work with. Very readily available always keeps in contact during a case and responds quickly. Richard also makes the legal process as easy to understand as it can be.’

‘The whole team is very engaged and proactive in the representation of the client. There is close supervision. The clients have the immediate assistance of experienced members of the team. Richard Ottley keeps a very close eye on all matters and provides detailed advice from the outset.’

‘Richard Ottley is highly experienced in the field, robust and realistic in his advice to clients and his dealings with regulators. He secures the significant and important detail at an early stage which preserves the evidence for the future.’

Key clients


Covea Insurance

Royal Mail




NFU Mutual

Network Rail


Work highlights

  • Advised RNLI on lifeguarding and beach safety issues and in relation to several Inquests concerning drownings where lifeguarding services were impacted by Covid-19.
  • Acting for a glaziers and its director in an ongoing gross negligence manslaughter and health and safety case.

Osborne Clarke LLP

The health and safety team at Osborne Clarke LLP acts on behalf of a number of household name clients, providing contentious and non-contentious support. Its involvement with media and entertainment employers has included aiding ITV with the drafting of Covid-19 industry guidelines. Other core client areas include transport, energy, retail and financial services. The team is highly regarded for its contentious work and crisis management abilities, two strengths of practice head Mary Lawrence. It also offers advice on internal investigations, mental health risk, fire safety issues, and rail health and safety matters. Matthew Kyle is well regarded for his experience in regulatory criminal matters.

Practice head(s):

Mary Lawrence

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Kyle; Georgie Lythgoe


‘Without doubt one of the leading health and safety teams in the South West. It has real strength in depth from top to bottom which has resulted in attracting top commercial clients. Having this in-depth experience within the team it is able to provide both high-quality advisory work and litigation advice. A class act. ’

‘Prompt and practical advice, tailored to the needs of the business.’

‘Proactive, supportive, willing and able to meet tight deadlines when a matter requires this.’

‘Georgia Lythgoe stands out as a genuine specialist who sees the big picture and translates H&S risk into language that the business understands.’

‘The professionalism and diligence of the team was outstanding and their experience in crisis management was exactly the support we required. Throughout the case, they set out clear objectives, articulated and pressed our case, whilst managing our own expectations.’

‘Mary Lawrence exhibited calm under pressure, was thoughtful and thorough, always available and showed us that nothing was too much trouble.’

‘I have found the team great to work with, they ensure they fully understand our context before advising and align with our desired outcome and approach. They have turned around many last-minute, urgent and changing requests for legal advice quickly providing valuable and relevant advice.’

‘Mary Lawrence has been a stand-out with her expertise and approach.’

Key clients

RWE Generation

Western Power Distribution

ITV plc

Selfridges & Co

Wales and West Utilities

Netflix Inc.

Vue Entertainment Limited

Eversholt Rail

Barratt Developments

Marks and Spencer

St Modwen Properties

Bureau Veritas SA




Work highlights

  • Representing RWE in relation to the high-profile Didcot power station collapse, which occurred in February 2016.
  • Handling representation of an electricity company following the death of one of its young employees who was electrocuted at work.
  • Advising one of the top 5 housebuilders on building safety and fire safety obligations in relation to current developments and historic property portfolio.


With strong links to clients in the food and beverage, retail, real estate and green energy sectors, TLT  provides a wide range of health and safety services. Its regulatory arm has particular emphases advising property companies on fire safety issues relating to asbestos, advising on product safety issues, and advising on electric vehicle points. On the contentious side, the team regularly defends clients in complex matters, many of which involve fatalities or near-fatalities. Kerry Gwyther leads the Bristol-based practice, leading the team's compliance and incident management work. Duncan Reed is also regarded for his work in connection with the Grenfell inquiry.

Practice head(s):

Kerry Gwyther

Other key lawyers:

Duncan Reed

Key clients

Boohoo Plc

Greene King Plc

Sports Ground Safety Authority

Department of Health and Social Care

Former employees of Rydon Group Limited (Grenfell)

Punch Taverns PLC

Work highlights

  • Advising the Department of Health and Social Care on a programme for manufacture of UK lateral flow tests to be used in the response to the Covid19 pandemic.
  • Advising the Sports Ground Safety Authority on its implementation of the Government’s Safe Seating policy.
  • Advised a number of former employees of Rydon Group Limited who gave evidence in person to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Led by the extremely well regarded Jon Cooper, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP offers a full set of advisory and contentious services to its client base. It receives a significant number of instructions on investigations and prosecutions, acting on behalf of both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and commercial clients. The team also offers non-contentious advice on enforcement and operational matters and provides strategic advice to company boards. It has particular experience advising energy, retail, construction, transport and healthcare clients. Stephen Panton and Stephen Covell are also highly regarded members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Jon Cooper

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Covell; Stephen Panton; Ashley Borthwick


‘The very deep specialist knowledge is unrivalled and enables the team to give a sophistication of approach that is unparalleled. This technical knowledge when combined with a very broad and innate commercial understanding, makes the team second to none.’

‘Without question Jon Cooper’s specialist knowledge in health and safety is unequalled, his advice and support is incredibly valuable to our organisation.’

‘The team at Womble Bond Dickinson are always available to take a call and share their knowledge with our organisation. They have assisted me on several occasions with specific challenges and they provide a level of confidence following our conversations. The team have delivered awareness sessions and briefings with our management team, this level of collaboration good to see and appreciated by our operational managers. ’

‘Ashley Borthwick is hugely responsive, I have complete trust in him. Ashley is at his best when you know he is absolutely in the real detail of the law, but advises you in a hugely practical and business-friendly way. A huge asset and trusted advisor.’

‘All the team at Womble Bond Dickinson are approachable and easy to work with. A special mention needs to be given to Jon Cooper and Ashley Borthwick – I consider their knowledge and professionalism to be second to none. ’

‘My interaction is channelled via one person/partner who consults with specialists in his team if required, ensuring a comprehensive service.’

‘Stephen Panton’s clarity of thought, direction, guidance alongside an ability to interact with a range of colleagues as required is highly valued.’

Key clients

Babcock International Group

B&Q Plc

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited

Post Office Limited

RWE Innogy

Southern Co-operative Limited

Northern Powergrid

Calderys UK Limited

Carlsberg UK

Princess Yachts Limited


Work highlights

  • Advising Carlsberg in relation to the Police and Health and Safety Executive investigation and prosecution regarding a serious incident at the company’s Northampton brewery.

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP works with a mixture of public and private sector clients, providing 'a comprehensive and superb service' on a wide range of health and safety matters. Primarily handling regulatory crime, the team often advises large organisations on matters involving food safety, environmental issues, the care sector and road traffic. It is also involved in investigations and prosecutions, primarily on behalf of local and fire authorities. Dale Collins, and Nigel Lyons, both based in Exeter, are regarded for their work with corporate clients and criminal investigations respectively. Andrew Hopkins leads the practice from Nottingham.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hopkin

Other key lawyers:

Dale Collins; Nigel Lyons


‘Range and depth of experience. If an individual lawyer is unavailable there is always an equally competent substitute. That is important for urgent short notice cases. Knowledge and competency allow for the provision of detailed and expert legal advice on the subject matter, with a vital eye to practical, sensible solutions.’

‘Strong, nationally recognised, forward-looking specialists, always in the vanguard of development. Clients have confidence in the supportive skills of their partners & senior staff. ’

‘They are quite simply markedly better than their national competitors. I particularly commend Andy Hopkins and Nigel Lyons.’

‘The team covers the full range of issues in this area and to a remarkable degree, works in a close-knit way to give clients a comprehensive and superb service from start to finish.’

‘Nigel Lyons and Dale Collins provide an unusual combination of both hard work and a determined focus on the client’s interests. Nobody else does the work in the way this practice and these individuals do it.’

Key clients

Classic Builders (South West) Ltd

Mr Jonathan Cleave

Atlantic Waste Limited Employees

Foot Anstey

The team at Foot Anstey offers a wide range of health and safety support to its clients, across both regulatory and contentious matters. On the regulatory side, the team provides strategic and operational advice, as well as helping clients with due diligence. For contentious matters, it defends clients during HSE, local authority and port investigations. The team has strong links with the sports industry.  Partner Nathan Peacey leads the practice from its Bristol office, focusing on regulatory work.

Practice head(s):

Nathan Peacey

Key clients

Go SkyDive


Work highlights

  • Advised on the wording of Coronavirus Restrictions and Guidance to identify an opportunity to continue to operate tandem skydiving operations within the legislation.

Lester Aldridge LLP

The employment team at Lester Aldridge LLP boasts significant experience in prosecutions, acting on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and a variety of local authorities. The team also offers defence work for its corporate client base, mostly in the manufacturing, care and construction sectors. On the non-contentious side, the team provides health and safety training for its corporate clientele. Michael Veal leads the firm from its Bournemouth office and was previously responsible for all Health and Safety Executive prosecutions in the South West.

Practice head(s):

Michael Veal


‘Lester Aldridge is rightly known as the one of, if not the go-to regulatory and health and safety firms in the South. They have a strong, dynamic and flexible team who will always go the extra mile.’

‘Mike Veal is exceptional. He is intellectually nimble, he is a specialist who knows his subject inside out but he is also down to earth and practical. He has an approachable, can-do attitude and is an excellent team player. He always has a thorough grasp of every case. His instructions and ongoing input and support in a case are second to none.’

‘Supreme organisation and client care mean that the department is an absolute dream to work with. ’

‘Michael Veal has an encyclopaedic knowledge of health and safety law. His client care is second to none and he runs an incredibly efficient department. ’

‘The team works very effectively together.’

‘Michael Veal leads his team effectively and is fantastic to work with. He is patient, works incredibly hard, and is imaginative about his cases bringing a fresh view to them.’

‘Very detailed knowledge of how the regulators work. Very professional.’

Key clients

Health & Safety Executive

Maritime & Coastguard Agency

Hampshire County Council

Work highlights

  • Prosecuting Flybe airline following an incident whereby a Flybe employee fell down a lift shaft at Exeter Airport.
  • Advising Hampshire Council’s highways department in the context of a Health & Safety Executive prosecution.
  • Acting for an IT company that was prosecuted for a variety of offences to do with the importation and marketing of unsafe electronic equipment.

Ashfords LLP

Ashfords LLP's Bristol-based health and safety practice offers a strong array of services to its high profile clients. The team is particularly versed in workplace accidents, fire safety, and product safety issues, the latter in both food and medical contexts. It also serves on many public sector panels. Ben Derrington leads the practice, advising on food safety issues involving labelling.

Practice head(s):

Ben Derrington

Other key lawyers:

Jack Baumgardt


‘The Ashfords team gets to know its clients in a comprehensive and unique fashion. Having got to grips with the client’s business, it is uniquely well-placed to steer the client through the difficulties the case may present. Once the client has experienced Ben Derrington’s attention to detail, they want no one else to fill those shoes.’

‘Ben Derrington is second to none. His knowledge of client businesses goes before him, both in legal circles and in the commercial community. He never ceases to work for his clients and with Ben, they rightly feel looked after in all respects and in the best possible way.’


Focused on providing support in criminal cases, the team at DWF handles a wide variety of health and safety matters working as part of a highly regarded national team. The team defends insurers and insureds during investigations, inquests and prosecutions, with routine matters including willful neglect, gross negligence and corporate manslaughter. Bristol-based Neil Millard frequently represents insureds in cases that involve multiple fatalities. Lee Foulser heads the national practice from Manchester.

Practice head(s):

Lee Foulser

Other key lawyers:

Neil Millard


‘They are extremely professional and thorough lawyers. The team provides exceptional service to both corporate and individual defendants.’

‘Neil Millard is an exceptional lawyer.’

‘The team at DWF is highly organised. The attention to detail continues during their conduct of the case, with a real emphasis on client care. ’

Key clients









Work highlights

  • Acted for a business accused of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 after an employee suffered an amputation in machinery.
  • Represented a teaching assistant/lifeguard following a near-drowning incident at a school for children with complex health and learning disabilities.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP offers its clients support on a variety of matters, notably including workplace fatalities and potential corporate manslaughter cases. It offers full support throughout the litigation process, in addition to proactively advising on compliance and policy reviews. The team is also known for its specialist work with marine employers. Andrew Oldland QC leads the practice - he is described as 'a fiercely intelligent senior partner with the immeasurable benefit of significant court experience'.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Oldland QC  

Other key lawyers:

Katharine Everett Nunns


‘This is a highly professional team led by Andrew Oldland QC. The resources at their disposal equip them to handle the most challenging or complex cases.’

‘Andrew Oldland QC is a fiercely intelligent senior partner with the immeasurable benefit of significant court experience. Very few firms can boast an asset of his status in their number.’

Key clients

Clinton Devon Estates

W Stevenson & Sons Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised and represented Clinton Devon Estates in a corporate manslaughter case following police and HSE investigations.


Internationally renowned for its insurance expertise, RPC's health and safety team offers its clients support across multiple high profile matters. It has significant experience dealing with cases involving fatalities, including corporate manslaughter and gross negligence, and provides regulatory support. Gavin Reese leads the liability team, splitting time between Bristol and London, while senior associate Fiona Hahlo manages the Bristol0based team.

Practice head(s):

Gavin Reese; Fiona Hahlo


‘The level of expertise in this field is exceptional, coupled with very high levels of attention to detail and first rate client care.’

‘Fiona Hahlo is a delight to work with and for. Knowledgable and passionate about her clients and work.’

‘A very strong team, particularly adept at the mastery of complicated expert evidence and the defence of prosecutions arising from catastrophic injury and fatal accidents. Clients also value the strong personal support and practical advice on crisis management and minimising reputational damage.’

‘Fiona Hahlo is a superb lawyer with an astonishing attention to detail in complicated cases, combined with wonderful client skills which means that she is able to establish a winning rapport from everyone from the managing director of a large multinational corporation to the most nervous, junior employee.’

Key clients


Work highlights

  • Advising client with regards to HSE investigation into accident whereby a visiting contractor suffered injuries when he fell from the bed of a trailer he was netting.
  • Advised client in respect of HSE investigation into accident where a prospective employee suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a large metal brush which fell from the crane to which it was attached.
  • Representing specialist contractor in respect of HSE prosecution into incident where another contractor on site suffered life changing injuries when a large installation fell onto him.