Due to growing client demand, legal business DWF has bolstered its regulatory capability to enhance support given to clients affected by new sentencing guidelines introduced in February. DWF has appointed former health and safety prosecutors and accredited consultants in its regulatory, compliance and investigations (RCI) team after the guidelines escalated the risk and severity of fines for corporate organisations, leading to a record-breaking eight months of regulatory fines.
Companies with a turnover upwards of £50million are being prosecuted far more severely with much higher fines than ever before, which is having a significant impact on corporates across the country. Recent high-profile prosecutions include Merlin Attractions’ £5million fine following the Alton Towers Smiler crash and Network Rail’s £4million fine following the death of a pedestrian at a level crossing.
DWF has invested in its RCI team as client demand continues to rise, including with the strategic appointment of former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutor Simon Belfield. Simon specialises in regulatory crime and has 15 years’ experience of prosecuting for the HSE nationwide, including a number of high-profile cases involving serious injuries and fatalities.
DWF Head of Regulatory, Compliance and Investigations Steffan Groch, says: “Recent cases have put a spotlight on the urgent need for corporates to ensure they’re complying with all regulations and putting crisis response plans in place in case of an investigation. Of the 28 fines that have broken the £1million mark since 1975, 16 of those have been handed out since February this year, which is the most in any single year in history. This statistic highlights the rapid change in the market and the significant increase in risk and severity of fines facing businesses and we’ve reacted by developing our capability, bringing in experts who have acted both for corporates and regulatory authorities to deliver preventative, investigatory and advisory legal services to clients.”
Simon comments on his appointment: “I’ve joined DWF at a significant time for the industry following substantial changes to the regulatory arena; businesses need to be mindful now more than ever of regulatory compliance or risk severe fines and we’re already working with several clients to strategically handle cases of this nature.”
The growing team has made a number of additional hires to reflect the mounting number of cases its involved in, including three accredited consultants and a number of solicitors, to join the national team, working across food law, health and safety, health and social care, retail law and transport to support major corporate and commercial clients.