Health and safety in South West
Burges Salmon LLP's team has expertise in health and safety matters connected with a wide range of industries, with a particularly strong reputation in the rail sector. Ann Metherall, who regularly advises on investigations into major rail accidents, leads the experienced group. A distinguishing feature of the department is its dedicated food safety team, which is led by Sian Edmunds. Elsewhere, the firm generates work from clients in the utilities, construction and energy sectors. All lawyers in the team combine experience of civil litigation with a regulatory specialism.
‘This is a really high-calibre team with a strong work ethic and an unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of the railway industry. Case preparation is carefully considered, practical and thorough. Particularly strong in health and safety prosecutions and inquests.‘
‘Ann Metherall is hugely knowledgable, with excellent tactical sense, and gives clear and accessible advice.‘
‘The team is enthusiastic and remains highly involved at all stages of the litigation process. This is not a firm which sits back when counsel have been instructed, but rather they interact and proactively engage with both counsel and client. This not only noticeably improves the strength of the case but enables all individuals in the case to feel a sense of confidence about the attention being paid to all aspects of the case. The preparation both prior to and following the instruction of counsel is very impressive, and compares very well to other firms. The team is very adept at taking a strategic approach to litigation which can be clearly relayed to clients and also in keeping the clients fully abreast of developments when managing expectations.‘
‘The individuals at Burges Salmon with whom I have worked have always been highly professional and their involvement has always greatly assisted me in a case. The team structure is very strong. Notwithstanding the emphasis placed on there being a team rather one individual working on a matter the accessibility and strategic focus of the partner (Sian Edmunds) who was involved on the cases on which I have worked has been striking and a real benefit. Sian Edmunds has brought experience, expertise and robust commercial judgement which has been of real value in the proceedings.‘
‘The team is extremely knowledgeable in the food/food safety arena.’
‘Everything is upfront and solid with these guys. They have a grasp of the subject matter, be it basic food science or complex microbiology, and this produces the foundation for an excellent team effort.‘
‘Partners Ann Metherall and Chris Jackson both have many years experience of rail-related health and safety matters. Unique experience means that they are the “go to” partners for this type of work. They are stand-out partners in the field and are “heads above” competitive firms. Being based in Bristol also means that as a client you have the additional benefit of regional rates.‘
The Crown Estate
London and South Eastern Railways
John Lewis Partnership plc
- Advising one of the core participants in the Grenfell Inquiry, providing support with its collation, review and analysis of evidence for submission to the inquiry.
- Assisting a major construction company with an HSE investigation into a major road bridge collapsing incident, including a highly detailed Interview Under Caution response.
- Advising a train operating company on its response to challenging and sensitive investigations by the Coroner, British Transport Police, and Office of Rail and Road following the high-profile death of a passenger, and at the inquest and subsequent prosecution.
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP's health and safety team is integrated into a network of offices spanning the country. It has a strong reputation for representing organisations in investigations involving alleged corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences. Among its strengths is its expertise in handling cases in the manufacturing, healthcare, retail and transport sectors. Team head Richard Ottley is highly experienced in defending clients in HSE investigations and prosecutions; he has particular experience dealing with agricultural cases. Associate Ian Manners has recently been focused on fatal accidents in the construction, manufacturing and health and social care sectors.
‘Very switched-on team, able to deal with the emotional and time pressures of this type of work. Provides pragmatic advice which gives both Insureds and insurers an understanding of the strategy and the way forward to enable informed decisions.
Ian Manners leads by example and his team follows that lead but demonstrates proactivity and the ability to think on their feet which is essential in this area of law.‘
‘Only dealt with the health and safety side of the practice but was thoroughly impressed with their depth of knowledge, ability to assimilate a lot of information quickly and present a convincing case.
Only dealt with Richard Otley and was thoroughly impressed with his professionalism, his calmness and his empathy. Managed to put everyone involved at ease and extract the relevant info from them and then present it as a defence in a coherent and persuasive way.’
‘They are clearly a highly experienced and knowledgeable, not to mention personable, team.
The presentations they deliver are, in my opinion, the best in the sector and are always aimed perfectly at the audience in attendance.
As mentioned above, whoever you come across at DACB, they are extremely personable, incredibly knowledgeable and a pleasure to deal with.’
University Hospitals Bristol
Lorne Stewart Plc
- Acting for Cappagh Group of Companies in an HSE investigation following an incident when an employee suffered serious crushing injuries.
- Advising the owners of a large fishing vessel following a serious accident.
- Successfully defending Lorne Stewart in an HSE case following a significant injury on one of its sites.
Bournemouth-based Lester Aldridge LLP distinguishes itself through its extensive prosecution work for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and also for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Equally important is defence work following accidents, which the health and safety team carries out for clients in both public and private sectors; it mainly advises clients in the marine, care and construction industries in this space. Team head Michael Veal is a seasoned litigator, who has handled prosecution work for the HSE throughout the South West of England and South Wales. Working with Veal is associate Guy Gosheron, who is a barrister with a specialism in criminal prosecutions.
Other key lawyers:
‘Good regulatory law firm. Years of experience in both prosecuting and defending regulatory offences. As the previous holder of the HSE prosecution work contract, this firm has bags of experience in dealing with these types of offences. They use that experience to good effect in preparing and seeing through to completion cases of this sort.‘
‘Michael Veal is the standout operator at this firm. Capable of conducting advocacy himself, he never fails to instruct counsel when he thinks it is necessary or the case demands it. He has great insight into the issues that are likely to arise in a case, from the very early stages in any case. A great tactical thinker and is never under prepared.‘
‘A regional firm with the feel of a top City firm. Great relationships with clients and always prepared to go the extra mile.‘
‘Michael Veal is an exceptionally good lawyer who knows everything there is to know about health & safety law. He is approachable and has a really great relationship with clients. Knowledgeable and informed. Charming and one of the best around.‘
‘The health and safety team brings exceptional experience from both prosecuting and defending health and safety cases. There are few other firms outside of London that have the breadth of experience in health and safety outside of Lester Aldridge.‘
‘Michael Veal is a true leader in his field. A real expert in health and safety cases. He brings vast experience to such matters. Guy Gosheron is hard-working, tenacious and knowledgeable.‘
‘I have always found the firm to be efficient and knowledgeable. They are very easy to work with.‘
‘I have worked with Michael Veal on several cases. His knowledge of health and safety law is highly impressive but he also has a practical approach to cases which means that he quickly gets to the point and makes life easy for me, as a barrister, and in due course, for the jury.‘
Health & Safety Executive
Maritime & Coastguard Agency
Hampshire County Council
- Advising the HSE on its prosecution of Synergy Housing, Aster Property and Orona following the death of a child, which occurred when she was using a lift at her home.
- Defending Hampshire County Council’s highways department against a prosecution by the HSE, in relation to a case in which a child was almost killed at Christmas 2015 when a bollard in a busy town centre fell over.
- Assisting the HSE with the prosecution of Tata Steel UK and Rowecord Total Access following an incident at steelworks in Port Talbot at which time a worker fell 20 metres from scaffolding, suffering injury.
Osborne Clarke's health and safety team acts for a notable client base, which includes household-name domestic and multinational companies. It advises entities operating in industries such as transport, energy, utilities and retail. Team head Mary Lawrence is a key name in the South West, and also leads the firm's national health and safety practice. The group provides comprehensive support on all aspects of health and safety law, and its recent work has included internal investigations, inquests and inquiries, and advice to clients on mental health risks. Associate director Matthew Kyle has particular experience of handling the fallout from serious incidents.
Other key lawyers:
‘The OC H&S team provides responsive, holistic, commercially savvy, practical advice to their clients.‘
‘Mary Lawrence – forthright, bright, responsive, gets results.‘
‘They were available at all times; nothing seemed too much trouble to them and we felt we had priority attention and first-rate legal support.‘
‘Even under pressure, Mary Lawrence remains calm and approachable and her service is always exceptional. She articulated a clear strategy to steer us through the complexities of dealing with a multi-agency case, always giving us comprehensive and comprehendible advice. She never ceased to impress with her grasp of detail, depth of research, persistent and creative approach to all aspect of the case.‘
Western Power Distribution
Selfridges & Co
Wales and West Utilities
Vue Entertainment Limited
Marks and Spencer
St Modwen Properties
- Advising RWE on the high-profile Didcot power station collapse, which occurred in February 2016.
- Assisting Vue Entertainment Limited following the death of a cinemagoer who became stuck under an electric reclining seat.
- Defending Starbucks in a health and safety prosecution relating to the defective operation of a lift in a store which resulted in an employee injury.
TLT regularly advises on the strategic and regulatory aspects of health and safety law. The department has a notable specialism in advising on product safety concerns. Key areas of activity for the team include real estate (with an emphasis on asbestos cases), retail and consumer goods, leisure, food and drink (notably for a number of pub chains), and clean energy. The team also demonstrates strong capabilities in contentious work, including HSE prosecutions, as well as high-profile inquests and investigations. Team head Kerry Gwyther works with Duncan Reed, who was promoted to partner in May 2019.
Other key lawyers:
Employees of Rydon Limited
Energy Savings Trust
- Advising Punch Taverns on various compliance issues arising for health and safety.
- Advising a number of managers at Rydon Group Limited who were involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower and have been asked to provide evidence to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
- Advising WHSmith on the recall of a range of travel adaptors internationally.
Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is a regional leader in both contentious and advisory work in the health and safety space. The dedicated team handles a number of high-profile investigations, including those where it acts for commercial clients that are the subject of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inquiries and prosecutions following major incidents. In addition, it also advises the HSE on investigations. On the non-contentious side, the firm advises on strategic board-level issues, enforcement and operational matters. Practice head Jon Cooper has a wealth of health and safety experience. Plymouth-based managing associate Stephen Panton is another name to note.
‘The team is exceptional in the field of health and safety. It has a well-deserved national reputation.‘
‘Jon Cooper simply has an encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject which combined with his fabulous commercial acumen and outstanding client service makes him an absolute stand out lawyer. He is the best in his field by a country mile, and by far the best lawyer I have ever instructed.‘
‘Jon Cooper is an outstanding individual with exceptional skills in providing highly competent legal advice in relation to health and safety matters, both from a strategic and a practical point of view.‘
‘Jon Cooper has led the team with brilliance. He inspires a following. Unlike many in equivalent positions in other practices, he has a detailed grasp of the law and how it works in practice. He is excellent with clients and ensuring that resources are put where they are most needed.‘
‘One of the best firms for defendant health and safety/regulatory crime in the country. Exceptional and timely advice.‘
‘Jon Cooper is one of the country’s leading solicitors in defendant health and safety and regulatory crime. His background as a prosecutor for the HSE gives him a particular insight into the tactics of defending cases. He is a delight to work with.‘
‘The Rolls Royce of health and safety law firms. Second to none in their approach to health and safety work, both defence and prosecution. They give every case the complete service, from early consultation, thorough preparation and often achieve remarkable results. If I was a business, and I was facing a health and safety prosecution, this firm would be my first phone call.‘
‘Jon Cooper is the man when it comes to health and safety work. Perhaps the most experienced lawyer of his kind in the UK. He has dealt with almost every big case in this area of the law for years. He knows it inside out. A quality operator.‘
Babcock International Group (including Babcock Networks, Babcock Rail and Babcock Marine (DRDL))
Network Rail Infrastructure Limited
Post Office Limited
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Limited
Calderys UK Limited
Princess Yachts Limited
- Advising the HSE on the prosecution arising from the explosions at Pembroke Oil Refinery in June 2011, which resulted in multiple deaths.
- Assisting Carlsberg with response to an ongoing police and HSE investigation into a very serious incident which occurred at the company’s brewery.
- Defending Squibb Group against a prosecution brought by the HSE relating to the alleged exposure of employees and others during the refurbishment of school premises in East London.
Browne Jacobson LLP demonstrates strong capabilities in dealing with regulatory crime, including health and safety breaches. The key names in Exeter are Dale Collins and Nigel Lyons, who act for clients in both the private and public sectors. The team is sought to advise on prosecutions or investigations following health and safety accidents. It also provides advice on areas such as food safety, environment, the care sector and road traffic investigations. Andrew Hopkin in Nottingham is the overall head of the practice.
‘Nigel Lyons’ leadership and commercial know-how, coupled with his intense focus on client need, is what makes this firm unique in the South West. The team may not appreciate just how cogent and effective it is when compared to others. There is simply no one to touch it in the region.‘
‘Nigel Lyons has that rare gift of fully understanding not just client needs but also client feelings. Coupled with excellent judgement and an eye for the right solution, he is a formidable opponent.‘
‘The team has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law, a practical approach to problems, a caring and responsible attitude to cases and clients. It is a team with large resources but a personal touch.‘
‘Dale Collins is sensitive to the client’s needs. He is knowledgeable of the law and plans a case so as to get the best outcome for the client in an efficient manner.‘
Teignbridge District Council
The London Borough of Croydon
Reigate and Banstead Council
- Advising and representing Teignbridge District Council in connection with prosecution under the Asbestos Regulations.
- Assisting a Farming Partnership with an HSE investigation following a health and safety incident.
- Representing a construction company in proceedings following a serious accident.
Foot Anstey's regulatory team frequently advises clients on health and safety incidents and has particular experience of representing companies facing prosecution by the HSE. Clients include household names, such as the RSC and Netflix. The practice also provides strategic and operational advice, and also undertakes corporate due diligence reviews for buyers of businesses, among other matters. Team head Nathan Peacey often advises clients on risk management, compliance, corporate governance and regulatory crime.
Other key lawyers:
‘Responsive and pragmatic, Foot Anstey were focused on the desired practical outcome, as opposed to simply the legal position.‘
‘Nathan Peacey is our primary support. He understands our priorities and works well with us to reflect them in the management of issues as they arise.‘
‘I have worked with Tim Williamson in health & safety cases. He has a strong footprint in this area, acting for a wide range of clients – especially sporting organisations – in regulatory and health and safety proceedings. Tim has a very easy manner with clients, is super-responsive to their needs, and has a very keen understanding of both their commercial and reputational concerns.‘
‘Tim Williamson provides excellent, thorough and strategic advice in the regulatory sphere. He is particularly good at advising clients on practical scenarios, including preventative work.‘
Football Safety Officers’ Association
Farms for City Children
Ashton Gate Limited
Ashfords LLP's practice has gained momentum following the arrival of Ben Derrington as a legal director from Lyons Davidson in March 2019. It has attracted a number of high-profile clients for health and safety matters. Derrington's experience includes advising clients on workplace accidents, the risk and liability arising from product safety issues, and food safety concerns. Clients range from multinational food companies to local government bodies.
‘Ben Derrington’s intense and insightful client focus is what makes Ashfords the go-to firm in this region. Recent achievements include the total transformation of a Coroner’s attitude to a prominent social care client – from heavily criticised to exemplary. That could only have been achieved by the most careful attention to detail, coupled with complete understanding of the position of key witnesses. The Ashford’s team translates its genuine concern into highly effective action.‘
‘Ben Derrington’s careful analysis of the case in hand, coupled with his genuine concern for clients’ well-being (personal and commercial) is what makes him unique.‘
Michelmores LLP regularly acts for clients in workplace serious injury and fatality cases, including those involving alleged corporate manslaughter. Exeter-based team head Andrew Oldland QC defends corporate clients in high-value and high-profile investigations and prosecutions. On the non-contentious side, the group's work includes advice to clients on reviews of policies and procedures, as well as regulatory compliance.
‘The practice has an unparalleled reputation as a firm which deploys heavyweight expertise wherever it goes.’
‘Andrew Oldland QC brings real expertise to the firm’s health and safety work. He understands the court dynamic better than anyone. he instilled confidence in the team.‘
Clinton Devon Estates
- Successfully defending Clinton Devon Estates in a five-week trial at Exeter Crown Court relating to a fatal accident on one of the company’s farms.
RPC has a strong track record handling health and safety cases involving serious injuries and fatalities. Cases often involve issues such as gross negligence and corporate manslaughter, among other matters. In addition, the firm has recognised expertise in insurance law and procedure; it is often called on as a result of liability or professional indemnity policies. Gavin Reese, who splits his time between London and Bristol, and Fiona Hahlo in Bristol jointly lead the general liability and medical team. Nick McMahon heads up the health and safety team.
Other key lawyers:
‘A client-friendly firm specialising in major incidents involving fatalities. It places client care at the forefront, creating an atmosphere where the client has confidence in the team.‘
‘Nick McMahon is a partner with substantial ‘big case’ experience. He balances his in-depth knowledge of health and safety with an approachable demeanour which instils confidence in his clients.‘
- Assisting a recycling plant with an HSE investigation into an accident in which a prospective employee suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a large metal brush.
- Acting for a port on a case in which a contractor fell from his trailer while sheeting a load.
- Representing a flooring manufacturer in an HSE prosecution for death caused by fumes from the own-brand adhesive used in the fitting of the company’s flooring.
VWV's regulatory compliance team is well-known for advising on health and safety compliance and safeguarding matters in the education sector; independent schools, in particular, are a key source of work. The practice also advises on critical incident management, as well as the impact of breaches on governance, reporting obligations and liabilities. Practice head Tabitha Cave is adept at handling investigations carried out by public bodies.
‘Very willing to go the extra mile in terms of our-of-hours commitment. Happy to spend time making the legal position clear, especially when it is not obvious, nor necessarily the most popular position!‘
‘Tabitha Cave was with us in a flash after our particularly distressing and high-profile incident, and although it took place over the Christmas and New Year’s period, she was always available by email, on the telephone and in person. It was certainly beyond the call, and left us feeling very well supported at a very difficult time.’
J. Hall & Son (Bakers) Ltd
- Representing J. Hall & Son (Bakers) before Salisbury Magistrates Court following alleged breaches of food safety, food hygiene and health and safety.
- Advising Bijoux Medi-Spa and Dr Elizabeth Dancey following a CQC inspection.
- Representing Seashell Trust in Phase 1 of the residential schools investigation carried out by the IICSA.