0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

R v Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd, Court Of Appeal (Criminal Division), 10 October 2007

21 November 2007
The issues

Health & Safety – Health & Safety Executive – appropriate penalty for breach of the Health & Safety At Work Act.

The facts

Three companies were involved in this matter. Company A had contracted with company B, which was a major steel manufacturer, to carry out maintenance of heavy duty, on site machinery. Company A decided that in respect of certain equipment the work was specialised and asked Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd to undertake that part of the work on a sub-contract basis. Two engineers were provided by Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd. The two engineers were given no method statement or any supervising officer by Company B, as would normally have been the case. They were left to their own devices. They were given no signs or warnings by personnel on site. At one point, one of the engineers stood too close to a rear bus bar and was fatally electrocuted. Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd pleaded guilty to contravention of the Health & Safety At Work Act in failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the welfare, health and safety at work of its employees, contrary to Section 2(1). Company A and Company B, also pleaded guilty to contravention of Section 3(1) of the Act. Both companies received fines of £100,000.00. The Judge found that they were more proximate to the accident and bore 40% responsibility each. 20% was apportioned to Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd. Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd were fined £35,000.00. They appealed.

The decision

Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd argued, amongst other arguments, that the Judge had failed to take sufficient account of their limited means in comparison with the other companies, which were multi-national companies, and that he had placed too much apportionment on liability rather than culpability.

The Court had seen draft accounts for the most recent financial year, disclosing an operating profit significantly lower than for previous years. Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd was a well run local business. The Judge had placed too much emphasis on liability and not enough attention to the issue of culpability. The Judge should have considered not merely culpability but also Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd’s financial means. In whatever way the penalty was assessed it was too high with regard to culpability and the respective means of the companies. Switchgear Engineering Services Ltd had cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive and had entered a guilty plea. A fine of £10,000.00 would be substituted and the prosecution costs of £30,000.00 reduced to £10,000.00.

focus on...

Legal updates

Non-payment of insurance premiums during the Coronavirus pandemic

The forced closure of many businesses as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Recent reports from the Office for National Statistics state that the economy was 25% smaller in April than it was in February this year.

View

Legal updates

Reinstatement for property damage losses – when does it apply?

The Court of Appeal has recently considered the correct test for measuring the indemnity for property damage losses and has provided useful guidance on whether an insured needs to intend to reinstate the property to its pre-loss condition.

View

Legal updates

Coronavirus (COVID-19) insurance considerations

With instances of COVID-19 rapidly increasing throughout the UK, many businesses are considering the options available to limit staff and customer exposure to Coronavirus.

View

Legal updates

Insurance annual review 2019-2020

Welcome to our review of 2019 as we look ahead to what is on the horizon for the insurance sector in 2020.

View

The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up