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

health and safety breaches - what discount will I get for a guilty plea?

9 March 2017

The Sentencing Council have released their Definitive Guideline on the Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea, which sets out the approach to be taken by the courts. The guideline will apply to both individual offenders and organisations in cases where the first hearing is on or after 1 June 2017.

In short, under the new guidelines only those defendants who indicate a guilty plea on the first occasion will be entitled to the maximum one-third discount on their sentence. We all know that is often very difficult to achieve in complex health and safety cases.

The value of the guilty plea discount has never been higher. The rise in health and safety fines since 2016 has been headline grabbing. Is it worth risking the loss, or reduction, in the one-third reduction which on a seven figure fine is substantial?

Although the Sentencing Council did not go so as far as to carve out an exception for regulatory offences they have provided an exception that could provide a lifeline to some defendants but be warned it will not help everyone charged with a health and safety offence. It will be for the defendant to satisfy the court that the maximum discount should apply because it would be unreasonable to expect the defendant to indicate a guilty plea sooner. It is important to take early advice as soon as you are on notice of a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and certainly as soon as the summons is received - the value of the discount is too important to risk losing it.

related opinions

IR35 changes - six months and counting...

In his 2018 Autumn Budget, the then Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, announced a significant change to the way liability for IR35 breaches will be dealt with for private sector companies from April 2020.

View blog

Court of Appeal confirms all employment tribunal judgments must be published on the register, except in national security cases

Under the ET Rules, all judgments and accompanying written reasons must be published on a pubic register which the general public can access online.

View blog

Marriott International: a look behind the ICO’s £99m fine and what this means for corporate acquisitions

Last month, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced notice of its intention to fine (NOI) Marriott International, Inc. £99m for infringements of the GDPR.

View blog

SFO fail to secure individual criminal convictions following Deferred Prosecution Agreement

On 16 July 2019 the Serious Fraud Office released details of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement reached with Sarclad Ltd in July 2016.

View blog

mailing list sign up



Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up