News Criminal Regulatory 2nd Feb 2018

Jim Buchanan Appears for the London Borough of Croydon (LBC) for Breach of Section 2 HSWA

On 31 January 2018, at Southwark Crown Court, LBC was sentenced for a single offence contrary to section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The prosecution followed an accident at the Stubbs Mead waste disposal depot, a site owned by LBC and operated under contract by the second defendant, Veolia ES (UK) Limited.

An employee of LBC, Mr Timothy Lynch, sustained serious injuries when he was struck by a reversing dustcart. The employee’s position within the depot was an unusual one. He had learning difficulties and had been employed as a general cleaner for over 40 years. Both LBC and Veolia were aware of his difficulties, which at times caused him to put himself in harm’s way. Veolia staff sought to address these problems, but to no avail.

The Court expressed some sympathy with both defendants who did their best for Mr Lynch, but, sadly, did not provide him with the protection he needed from himself in the workplace.

The prosecution maintained that the offence was one of high culpability; with a high likelihood of Level A harm arising. Accordingly, the starting point for sentence was a fine of £2.4 million and a range of £1.5-6 million.

HHJ Griffith disagreed with this assessment. The offence was one of medium culpability with a ‘low medium’ likelihood of Level A harm arising. Accordingly, he took a starting point within Harm Category 2 at £400,000.This figure was uplifted to £500,000 to reflect the fact that the offence was a significant cause of actual harm.

LBC had the benefit of substantial mitigation that reduced the starting point to £350,000. It had also demonstrated to the Court that any financial penalty would have a significant impact upon the provision of its services and on employment of staff. This further reduced the starting point, to £150,000.

Full credit for an early guilty plea resulted in a fine of £100,000, payable over 4 years.

Veolia was fined £250,000, payable forthwith.

Jim Buchanan was instructed by Michael Hafen of Gowling WLG.

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