News Criminal Regulatory 7th Nov 2022

David Whittaker KC acts for transport company in Health & Safety prosecution

Lescost Transport were charged under section 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the allegation relating to the injury of an individual who was attempting to deal with an unsecured load on one of its double-decker trailers.

Lescost operates a haulage service across the UK and is part of United Pallet Network (UPN), undertaking night-time trunk runs between its site in the North-East of England and UPN’s site in Lichfield, Staffordshire. In September 2016 the load on one of its trailers shifted in transit and, when an employee of UPN attempted to deal with it at the Litchfield site, a heavy palletised load containing sheets of toughened glass fell from the trailer causing serious and life-changing injuries to the UPN employee.

The prosecution alleged that Lescost had failed in its undertaking in a number of particulars, namely an inadequate risk assessment, inadequate training and supervision, inadequate safety measures and inadequate instructions. In addition, and at the heart of the case, was the allegation that Lescost had let an unsecure load leave its site.

The company strongly denied each of the allegations and, in a trial lasting 12 days, the jury heard evidence from a number of witnesses to fact and experts on the systems in place at the company and the adequacy of the load security. Ultimately, the jury could not reach a decision and they were discharged.

Upon review of the case the prosecution decided to offer no further evidence and the judge entered a not guilty verdict against the company.

David Whittaker KC was instructed by Sarah Smith, Sophie Parkin and Lauren Slater at DWF Law LLP.


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