News Criminal Regulatory 23rd Apr 2021

Community Benefit Society, represented by Alexandra Tampakopoulos, has appeal allowed by Court of Appeal against sentence for Health and Safety offence.

Alexandra represented Places for People Homes Limited (the Appellant) in an appeal against sentence for a fine of £600,000 for an offence contrary to section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA).

The offence details were that over a 5 year period the Appellant had failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees in relation to risks associated with the use of vibrating tools such as mowers, trimmers and leaf blowers. The sentencing judge found that the offence exposed a number of workers to the risk of harm and that the offence was a significant cause of the actual harm caused to five named employees.

Under the Sentencing Guidelines for Health & Safety Offences the Appellant’s culpability was found to be High with a harm category of 3. The Appellant’s turnover was in excess of £250M.

The Appellant is a Community Benefit Society (a not for profit organisation) which provides affordable and quality housing to some of the most vulnerable members of society. It also runs a large number of social initiatives in support of issues such as homelessness, domestic violence and long term unemployment.

It was argued on behalf of the Appellant that in applying Step 4 of the Sentencing Guidelines the Appellant should have been treated in the same way as a charity and therefore entitled to a substantial reduction in fine, in excess of the £350,000 figure the sentencing judge had allowed.

The Court of Appeal held that a Community Benefit Society is equivalent to a charity and it should be entitled to a substantial reduction of fine as indicated at Step 4 of the Sentencing Guidelines. Accordingly, the fine was reduced by £200,000 resulting in an overall reduction on the basis of Step 4 considerations of £550,000.

Alexandra Tampakopoulos was instructed in the case by Paul Verrico of Eversheds Sutherland.


 

Alexandra is a recognised Health & Safety defence specialist. She has significant experience advising and acting for individual and major corporate clients across a wide range of industries including Energy, Construction, Retail, Manufacturing and Agriculture. Alexandra is ranked as a Leading Individual for Health & Safety in the 2021 Chambers & Partners UK legal directory and The Legal 500. She was also nominated as Health and Safety Junior of the Year in the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2018.


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