DWF partner and national Head of Regulatory, and Chair of the UK Health and Safety Lawyer’s Association (HSLA), Steffan Groch will present to an all-party parliamentary group today at Westminster, discussing the findings of an HSLA survey on the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) fee for intervention (FFI) and the potential consequences of the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences.
The Health and Safety Lawyers’ Association is an national organisation aimed at promoting the development of health and safety law and improving the practice of health and safety in the UK, with its members including solicitors, barrister, prosecution and defense. Over 170 of the members responded to a recent survey on the HSE’s revised sentencing guidelines and the anticipated consequences. More than three quarters of the respondents indicated that they expect the number of cases being sent to the Crown Court to increase, along with the number of defendants electing for Crown Court trials, with an overwhelming majority anticipating sentencing hearings to become lengthier and more complicated.
The survey also gauged opinion on the HSE’s Fee for Intervention scheme, a cost-recovery initiative that holds those who break health and safety laws liable for the recovery of the HSE’s related cost. Just 17% of respondents expect threat of a fee to make businesses more likely to comply with health and safety regulations, with the majority believing that the fee is primarily aimed at generating revenue. Concerns over FFI extended to collaboration between businesses and inspectors, with a common perception of decreased communication and requests for advice from inspectors following the FFI implementation, and two thirds of the respondents disagreeing that businesses trust the independence and robustness of the FFI’s queries and disputes process.
Steffan comments: “The revised guidelines have far reaching potential to impact businesses; the consultation last year was one of the most significant developments across the regulatory landscape in recent years, and the hearing today is an important platform for raising awareness of the industry’s perception of these guidelines and how businesses are preparing for potential challenges as we become closer to the guidelines coming into force next year.”
Steffan is currently serving his second, two-year term as Chair of the HSLA.