Health and safety in West Midlands
DAC Beachcroft LLP
DAC Beachcroft LLP continues to be involved in many high-profile matters and advises clients in all sectors. It has particular strength in construction, manufacturing and care. Recent instructions have included advising on a number of fatal accident investigations for blue-chip companies as well as complex inquest proceedings for large care home groups. The practice advises on all aspects of compliance work such as reporting, interviews under caution as well as enforcement undertakings and civil penalties. Birmingham-based Andrew Roach is a key contact along with Steven Harrison.
‘A very strong team with strength in depth and good market presence‘.
‘DAC Beachcroft (Birmingham) is part of the well-known, market-leading national DAC Beachcroft health and safety team. As such it draws on substantial in-depth legal knowledge and experience. The team has years of experience of defending large, well-known, high street names as well as smaller companies and individuals. Andrew Roach is vastly experienced‘.
‘Steven Harrison is a diligent and clever lawyer’.
Milford Care Ltd
- Andrew Roach acted on instructions from AXA Insurance to represent DJT Surfacing Ltd following a prosecution that was brought by the HSE arising out of a fatal accident that occurred on 13 February 2015.
- Represented WEG Ltd in relation to inquest proceedings and a HSE investigation arising out of a fatal accident in November 2015 as a result of a vehicle falling from a two post vehicle lift.
- Acting for Milford Care Ltd in connection with inquest proceedings arising out of a fatal electrocution of a resident in August 2018.
- Acting for Foulger Transport Ltd in respect of a prosecution that is being brought by the HSE arising out of an accident in March 2018 when a warehouse operative was struck by a reversing forklift truck.
- Representing Lifeways in respect of inquest proceedings arising out of the death of a supported person following a fall on 27 October 2018.
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a proven track record of representing large global and national clients on all aspects of major prosecutions and investigations. The team is also well thought of for its consultancy advice to clients on the development of policies and in assisting with behavioural reviews. In addition the group is active in conducting general appraisals. Nationally Kevin Elliott specialises in representing both individuals and organisations following workplace fatalities and serious incidents.
Lucozade Ribena Suntory
McCain Foods GB Ltd
Sir Robert McAlpine
South Staffordshire plc
- Advised Sir Robert McAlpine following a fall from height on a construction site which resulted in serious injuries to a contractor; successfully negotiated with the HSE to reduce the culpability and thus the starting point of the fine.
- Represented a Premier League Football Club at inquest following the death of a spectator who fell while exiting the ground at the end of the match.
- Advised and represented a client following an explosion at its waste-to-energy plant in which an employee sustained fatal injuries.
- Advising and representing a major food manufacturer following an incident at one of their factories where an employee sustained serious injuries when drawn into a machine while operating.
- Advising and supporting a major commercial property landlord following an accident in common parts of its premises when a tenant’s employee was struck by a vehicle.
Gowling WLG is immersed in the key sectors of construction, building materials quarrying, aerospace and defence. Other significant focus areas include local government, health and social care. Head of team Andrew Litchfield is skilled at helping clients in the prevention of accidents and helps them during the course of any investigations and inquests and through the criminal courts. Michael Hafen is another prominent member of the team. Hafen is known for his work in the defence of civil and criminal litigation in the aftermath of regulatory breaches, healthcare, trading standards and environmental breaches.
Other key lawyers:
‘Andrew Litchfield is really experienced, sensible‘.
‘The whole team at Gowling is really strong’.
Bakkavor Foods Ltd
Odeon Cinemas Ltd
E Manton Ltd
Bloor Homes Ltd
Kingspan Insulation Ltd
The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd/Eurotunnel
A F Blakemore and Son Ltd
Ford Motor Company UK Ltd
CEMEX UK Operations Ltd
Integral UK Ltd
Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd
DMG Technical Ltd
Pinsent Masons LLP
Pinsent Masons LLP has one of the leading health and safety teams nationally and is regularly instructed in the most serious incidents. Its clients are drawn from all sectors. The department under the leadership of Sean Elson has built up considerable expertise in advising clients in high-hazard industries such as construction, manufacturing, waste and energy. A recent growth area for the group is fire and building safety advice and the practice is well-positioned to guide clients through any precautionary steps that need to be taken in this area. Louise Mansfield has considerable experience of the construction and manufacturing sectors.
Other key lawyers:
‘One of the great strengths of this firm is that it is spread geographically but works as a single cohesive team. No other firm manages this so well. Sean Elson has a very high profile in this sector‘.
‘The team is frequently involved in large and serious cases for very high-profile clients and brings that experience to bear in all of its work. The lawyers have a keen appreciation of the tactical issues and bring great technical expertise and attention to detail in the preparation. Sean Elson – excellent communicator‘ .
‘Sean Elson has a fine strategic mind and a wealth of experience’.
‘Sean Elson is our stand-out partner. Always at the end of a phone, dispenses sensible, practical advice that the business understands and provides the assurance and reassurance needed‘.
‘Sean Elson has a great eye for the tactics of a case and is very commercially astute‘.
‘Sean Elson is vastly experienced and well-respected‘.
‘Louise Mansfield is a work dynamo who creates strong relationships with clients‘.
- Instructed by a client when it received an invite to a PACE interview and represented the client in its response to the HSE and in advance of trial.
- Acting for a large foundry and part of a UK plc group, in a prosecution by the HSE in relation to an injury received by an employee who lost a number of fingers after getting them trapped in a machine.
- Instructed in relation to an investigation by a fire authority into a breach of duties under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 after a serious fire on one of the client’s premises, which involved a person needing to be rescued by the emergency services.
- Acting for the owners of a globally important infrastructure asset in relation to a fatal incident at a rail depot in June 2017.
Shoosmiths LLP has an excellent reputation in this field and gains a large number of direct instructions from major corporate clients. The team has particular expertise in the petrochemical, retail and automotive sectors as well as the manufacturing, food and healthcare industries. Other sector strengths lie in construction and housing. Roy Tozer as the head of the firm’s regulatory practice also continues to lead the firm’s team that is involved in the Grenfell Tower inquiry. Another name to note is Hayley Saunders who has provided extensive advice to healthcare clients on all aspects of health and safety compliance, including advising them at inquests and corporate manslaughter investigations. Claire Morrissey is another significant member of the team.
‘Roy Tozer is vastly experienced and well respected‘.
‘Roy Tozer has very good sector knowledge. He is practical and experienced‘.
‘Hayley Saunders is first-rate and is totally dedicated to her clients‘.
‘Hayley Saunders is the real deal, she is very experienced and extremely personable‘.
Calor Gas Ltd
- Representing a large petro-chemical company since 2013 following an uncontrolled release at its refinery which led to two workers sustaining significant injuries.
- Advised and represented one of the contracting companies that was involved in the refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower throughout phase 1 and into phase 2 of the inquiry while also liaising, when appropriate, with the investigation being conducted by the Metropolitan Police.
- Advising a manufacturing company and its subsidiary boards following the death and serious injury of two workers in an explosion.
While advising across all sectors, Bevan Brittan LLP continues to be particularly recognised for its public sector expertise. It advises well over 100 NHS trust clients and various ambulance trusts, local authorities (including several large fire authorities) and some of the country’s largest housing associations and charities. The team frequently works on complex investigations by the police and other regulatory bodies such as the Care Quality Commission in addition to the HSE and also advises on inquests. Adam Kendall is highly regarded for his work on a wide range of regulatory law and compliance issues covering health and safety, environmental, trading standards and waste licensing matters.
BLM is best known for its work on complex fatal accident investigations and high-profile inquests. The department has a strong presence in the manufacturing, construction, public and care sectors. Several of its lawyers specialise in care home-related cases including deaths and serious injuries in care facilities for the elderly, vulnerable children and young adults. It also has a strong motor defence offering that acts for commercial fleet drivers charged with death or serious injury by dangerous or careless driving. Robert Davies leads the criminal regulatory team in Birmingham and specialises exclusively in criminal regulatory work and in coronial proceedings.
‘Bob Davies gave us every confidence. He listened to everything we had to say and made himself available to us. We felt that we were his only clients and nothing was too much trouble‘.
‘Bob Davies is very thorough‘.
‘Bob Davies : thorough, enjoys the “technical side of things” ; a safe pair of hands who will go the extra mile for his client‘.
- Acting for a company in its defence of a health and safety prosecution.
- Acting for an events management company which intends to defend a health and safety prosecution to trial during 2020.
- Representing a company in what will soon become a high-profile corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of its managing director.
- Continuing to act for a company since day one of a fatal workplace accident.
- Acting for a family-owned company since day one of a fatal workplace accident.
Browne Jacobson LLP acts for many private sector organisations in relation to health and safety accidents. As a general regulatory practice it also advises on health and safety matters as they arise from food safety, environmental breaches, the care sector and road traffic work. The department has been active in advising corporate clients directly on their policies and documentation, fatal accident protocols and on the management of bespoke risks such as legionella, asbestos and chemicals. It also advises a significant number of public sector clients and clients in the education sector. Rather unusually the group also prosecutes health and safety cases for local authorities and fire authorities. Nottingham-based Andrew Hopkin heads the team that includes Rachel Lyne.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team is technically very qualified, explaining all the details to us and taking time to ensure that we understand things. The team is always willing to help us‘.
‘Browne Jacobson has a determination to always follow everything through in the client’s best interests. The way the team works together is striking‘.
‘Rachel Lyne is brilliant at building and developing client relationships’.
‘Rachel Lyne is a very experienced solicitor who is always available for clients. She gets straight to the heart of the issue and provides the client with sound legal, practical and commercial advice. She has a calm and reassuring manner’.
‘It is a hardworking and knowledgeable team dedicated to putting the client first. The team provides astute, clear and practical advice which takes account of both the client’s legal requirements and commercial interests‘.
South Northamptonshire Council
Stoke on Trent City Council
- Advising and representing a core participant contractor at the Grenfell inquiry.
- Advising a software company on its health and safety documentation.
- Advising an NHS trust on safety issues surrounding the death of a member of the public.
- Advising a property management company and its director following the death of a self-employed contractor who fell from a tree while undertaking felling work.
- Advising a local authority following a fatal fire at a low-rise block of flats.
David Egan and associate Caroline Depledge at DWF work alongside the national team in acting for high-profile clients in a variety of sectors. The team is adept at helping clients to avoid prosecution for corporate manslaughter and other safety offences following the most serious incidents. It has expertise in various sectors including energy, retail and transport as well as healthcare, construction and local government. The group receives a steady flow of instructions from both insurers and large corporates and has also acted for a number of schools and trusts, advising them on a myriad of safety and reputational issues.
‘The team provided fantastic proactive and reactive support, strong project management and a clear focus to our organisation on a highly complex and extremely sensitive matter which had significant media attention‘.
‘A great provincial team that is able to match anybody in London. The Manchester and Birmingham offices are very strong hubs handling the most serious health and safety and environmental work in the UK‘.
‘In-depth knowledge of the law and the working practices of the HSE, giving clear and concise advice‘.
‘David Egan is a highly competent partner in his field, leading the successful Birmingham practice’.
‘David Egan and Caroline Depledge have been a great source of knowledge and very supportive during what was a stressful time for the organisation‘.
‘Caroline Depledge is excellent and highly competent. Clearly a high-flying member of the team who is going places. Very responsive, clear advice, professional and understands the law as well as the softer aspects of the claim and claims process‘.
‘Caroline Depledge is very good on her feet, befriends her clients and gets the best out of her witnesses‘.
‘Simon Naylor has been outstanding in his commitment, dedication, grasp of subjects and data, technical mastery to deliver a quality and timely product (often to extremely tight deadlines) and genuine empathy with both the organisation’s situation and those deeply affected by the matters they are representing us on‘.
Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Liberty Insurance Ltd
The nationwide team at Gateley Plc provides a one-stop fatal accident and major incident crisis management service to clients. It acts for FTSE 100 and 250 businesses as well as blue-chip companies, household names, SMEs and owner-managed businesses. Under the direction of Ruth Armstrong the nimble team is often involved in multi-faceted and multi-defendant complex coroner's inquests, Magistrates and Crown Court trials. The specialist team excels at winning a criminal trial before a criminal judge and jury and the team is vastly experienced at representing individuals under caution. It acts for many high-profile retailers and as a result has particular expertise in the retail sector. Kate Oliver specialises in defending all types of health and safety cases and environmental investigations. Oliver routinely attends the Coroner's Court and the criminal courts.
Other key lawyers:
‘Specialists in the field, and dedicated to clients‘.
‘Excellent mid-size firm with genuine experience in health and safety – Ruth Armstrong, Kate Oliver‘.
‘Ruth Armstrong is a very capable regulatory lawyer‘.
‘Ruth Armstrong knows her law inside out. She fights tremendously hard for her clients and always goes the extra mile. Kate Oliver is an excellent solicitor, who also works incredibly hard for her clients, to ensure they achieve the best possible outcome‘.
Drayton Manor Park
Taylor Wimpey plc
North West Fire Control
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
Dr. Oetker (UK) Ltd
Malmaison & Hotel du Vin in Property Holdings Ltd
Chubb European Group SE
Garvey Demolition Ltd
- Represented Drayton Manor Park in a public inquest following the high-profile fatal accident of a child on its water rapids ride during a school trip.
- Advised a number of housebuilders on their high-rise portfolio following the Grenfell tragedy – the team helped them to review the cladding and fire risk of over 400 apartment blocks across the country.
- Acting for Banham Poultry in police and HSE investigations following a double fatality to two contractors who were carrying out work at its chilling facility when they were overcome by fumes.
- Acted for Drawn Metal Ltd and one of its directors who were accused of corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter as a result of the death of a member of the public from a falling frame configuration at Hanover Street in London.
- Represented a business in the immediate aftermath of an employee’s fatal accident and in the subsequent HSE investigation and inquest.
With James Shrimpton at the helm Kennedys advises and represents defendants facing HSE and local authority prosecutions. Significantly the team also conducts its own advocacy at inquests. The skilled group is involved at all stages of investigation and prosecution and represents clients at PACE interviews and at court. Of note is the fact that it also has the expertise to advise clients and their insurers on any associated civil claims for damages. Other areas of expertise include assisting drivers in the transport sector who are facing police investigation following driving offences such as death by dangerous or careless driving. Naomi North leads the motor crime team and receives instructions from insurers, brokers and corporate clients.
Other key lawyers:
‘Kennedys (Birmingham) is part of the market-leading national Kennedys health and safety team. Its lawyers all have substantial experience of representing clients during investigation, the Coroner’s Court and, where appropriate, through to regulatory enforcement‘.
‘James Shrimpton leads the team by example. No stone is left unturned when he represents a client and his cool calm demeanour provides a reassuring presence to the client in difficult and sometimes emotional times‘.
- Advising on a multi-defendant prosecution with complicated disclosure issues following a fatal road traffic collision.
Weightmans LLP has been busy dealing with a number of cases that have attracted media interest and cases that have a public interest component such as mental health and eating disorders. It has significant sector expertise in areas as diverse as transport and logistics through to facilities management, public sector and local government. In addition the practice is vastly experienced in the construction, education and healthcare sectors. Birmingham-based Andrew Brammer has received a raft of health and safety contentious and non-contentious work from a broad array of clients ranging from local authorities to international corporates.
Plexus Law has extensive experience of advising organisations and individuals in all areas of health and safety law and environmental legislation. Under the guidance of Anthony Bushell and Damon Burt it provides specialist advice in the aftermath of workplace accidents and incidents with particular expertise in the defence of HSE/local authority and regulatory prosecutions, inquests and serious case reviews. Its clients include a mixture of insurance companies, corporates, self-insureds and local authorities. Burt has a particular interest in asbestos-related matters and the defence of HSE prosecutions arising from serious injuries and fatalities. Bushell advises on the full range of health and safety offences as well as corporate and individual manslaughter offences where investigations/prosecutions are brought by the police, HSE or Environment Agency.
A D Bly
Worcester County Council
- Advised Seetru Ltd on full disclosure where an employee of a sub-contractor fell from a height and the HSE decided ultimately that no action was to be taken against the client.
- Instructed to assist DPD Group following a HSE inspection and recommendations that were made in terms of a high-level action plan involving issues of manual handling regulations, noise levels and traffic routes.
Shakespeare Martineau LLP operates across a wide swathe of sectors encompassing areas as diverse as transport, agriculture, education and manufacturing through to healthcare, retail and engineering. It has the capability to deal with all aspects of enforcement actions that are taken by the HSE, local authorities, the Environment Agency and other bodies such as the CQC and the police. Julia Messervy-Whiting leads the practice that regularly represents businesses and individuals on a broad range of investigations and prosecutions such as PACE/police interviews as well as at inquests. David Ollivere has a good track record of successfully defending prosecutions.
Other key lawyers:
‘Valued qualities of partner (Julia Messervy-Whiting) were her tact and procedural diplomacy that were effectively used to resolve a tricky situation’.
‘I have always found the advice and assistance provided to be of consistently high quality, delivered swiftly and in a professional but friendly manner. Julia Messervy-Whiting’s attention to detail and the comprehensive nature of her advice on legal matters (particularly in this case HSE enquiries/prosecutions) have proven invaluable in swiftly assessing and developing tactics in the best interests of our customers‘.
‘Julia and her team’s strength was offering us a view of the best way forward having carefully conducted an investigation into historic events that determined where the situation was currently. At all times Julia Messervy-Whiting has communicated with us in layman’s terms and kept us fully informed of progress‘.
‘A particular strength of the team was the clarity of the guidance given – Julia Messervy-Whiting showed care and compassion in how she handled things‘.
University of Kent
Direct Line Group
Squire Patton Boggs is widely recognised nationally and internationally for its work both in defending large corporate organisations and their directors in the most serious health and safety matters and for its accident and internal investigation work. It has specialist industry knowledge of a wide range of sectors including entertainment, food and drink as well as the construction, waste and energy sectors. The 'excellent' team under the leadership of Manchester-based Rob Elvin is skilled across the board from representing clients at PACE interviews through to advising large corporates on their compliance with health and safety regulations. The highly regarded Gary Lewis is another key name, along with Birmingham-based Robert Biddlecombe.
‘Very accommodating solicitors who speak in a language that is understood. I find that I get very clear advice. ‘
‘Our involvement with SPB was in connection to a health and safety accident, Gary Lewis provided clarity based on clear expertise and experience which allowed us to be able to plan for the months ahead at a time of potential uncertainty.’
‘SPB provides “legal support plus”. That is to say that its interest in working with clients extends beyond just typical legal representation and advice at a distance. When engaged, SPG works with clients as if they are an extended part of the company’s management, and provides not only legal advice, but support and advice on H&S improvement programmes that are realistic, achievable, compatible with the company’s culture and of course satisfy legal compliance.’
‘The team has a comprehensive range of knowledge and experience, but the real selling point is their customer focus, attention to detail, and their collaborative and accessible approach to client liaison. They are equally at home in an operational engineering workshop as they are in the boardroom seamlessly adapting their approach to meet the needs of the audience and deliver excellent support right through the business.’
‘Rob Elvin is extremely knowledgeable about all things health and safety and inquest-related – he is a safe pair of hands.’
‘From Gary Lewis we got “tough love” – nothing was sugar-coated in regard to what we had got wrong and where the risk lay, balanced with no panic; this immediately commanded our respect developed confidence and trust.’
‘Gary Lewis provides sound legal advice, representation and support. He goes far beyond what I would expect as typical legal representation. Having worked closely with him I have found that he has an excellent ability to analyse root and branch issues, present them to clients with clarity and to recommend solutions that extend far beyond a typical lawyer’s approach. He continually emphasises a collaborative approach to problem solving and having worked with him in such a manner on a number of occasions I know how effective he is in steering clients in the right direction. Every senior executive I have seen him work with has had obvious and absolute confidence in the advice and support he provided. Personally, I can say that Gary has I given me the utmost support and advice, and I have learned a great deal from him during our working relationship. If asked by any of my own clients for a potential legal adviser for health and safety, Gary Lewis is the only name I would provide.’
‘Rob Elvin is an excellent leader, setting the tone for the team, who are all approachable, client focused and collaborative, demonstrating excellent communication skills and inspiring real trust and engagement right across our business.’
Ei Group plc (formerly known as Enterprise Inns)
Suez plc (and subsidiary)
National Grid Gas plc
Bayer Crop Science
- Advising Mamas and Papas on a global child seat recall matter in relation to products that were found to be defective, including advice on the applicable safety laws, risk strategy and recall procedure and on the recall itself.
- Representing Aeros Global Ltd in relation to a fatal air crash involving a light aircraft.
- Representing Minteq UK Ltd in relation to a HSE investigation following a fatal accident in the workplace whereby the client’s health and safety manager was struck by a forklift truck sustaining fatal injuries.
- Instructed by National Grid plc in relation to a very significant prosecution relating to alleged failures to maintain and inspect parts of the client’s gas distribution network prior to its sale to Cadent in 2016.
- Advised Delphi Diesel Systems Ltd in relation to a HSE investigation and provided both advice and representation in relation to the subsequent prosecution.