Martin Heslop QC has, throughout his career, advised and represented national and global companies, both listed and private, in all aspects of Health & Safety generally, on procedures and enforcement, related inquests, and policy.
Solicitors regularly comment that they appreciate his approach which provides timely and effective advice, minimising any adverse impact on clients’ commercial operations and reputation.
He seeks to ensure the best result for his clients, accompanied by the least publicity. A key skill he offers is an ability to negotiate with the HSE to try and avoid the issue of proceedings or to reduce the basis of a case to an agreed acceptable level. His case history demonstrates this. However, where cases progress to trial, his extensive experience as an advocate in the criminal courts, including almost a decade as Treasury Counsel, means he is extremely well placed to advise and represent effectively his clients’ interests in contested matters.
T & G – International Oil Companies
He successfully represented both oil companies following a major explosion, which occurred at their joint refinery, causing over £150m worth of damage. The prosecution asserted this was one of the UK’s worst disasters and alleged that so called system failures were the direct result of the pursuit of profit. Most specifically, that in the pursuit of profit, the oil companies had allowed the refinery to operate in an upset condition without taking appropriate measures to shut it down.
This allegation was vehemently disputed and he successfully negotiated an appropriate basis of plea without conceding any of the original points sought to be made by the HSE and secured the imposition of a limited fine in a judgment, which painted the companies in a favourable light.
He managed all corporate communication issues resulting in favourable press coverage, which ensured no impact on global share price of either company.
Z – A Leading Bed Manufacturer
He advised and represented one of the best-known bed manufacturers in the UK, which offered as a sales promotion, free children’s pyjamas and nighties with the sale of beds. The nightclothes were manufactured in China. They were declared to be fire retardant. This declaration proved to be wrong when a young girl was badly burned whilst wearing the nightclothes.
He was instructed almost immediately after the incident, advised a total product recall and drafted all appropriate notices and press releases. He led negotiations with HSE on the basis that the company was entitled to rely on the expertise and declarations of the Chinese manufacturer. No proceedings were issued, and the company suffered minimal publicity.
B – A National Supplier Of Industrial Gases
He represented the company at the coroner’s inquest and at the Crown Court following the death of an employee in a serious explosion at one of its plants.
The prosecution alleged the company had failed properly to identify the inherent dangers in their processes and inadequately labelled the machines being used by the operative so that his safety was not properly protected.
He immediately advised on and redrafted the company’s health and safety procedures and systems.
Thereafter he was able to negotiate a basis of plea agreeable to all parties, which avoided acceptance of the most serious allegations.
In the light of his reorganisation of the company’s health and safety procedures and systems, the Court accepted the company had done everything possible to correct the initial position and imposed a significantly reduced financial penalty.