Westgreen Construction Limited – Complex Health & Safety case
SUCCESSFUL EXONERATION IN COMPLEX HEALTH & SAFETY CASE FOR WESTGREEN CONSTRUCTION LIMITED
Construction sites by the very nature of the projects being undertaken, bring together numerous contractors, businesses and professionals at any one point in time. To say the logistics of site management are complex would be a significant understatement. This means that businesses and individuals rely on others they work alongside to ensure both their safety and the safety of those around them, people they may not even have known prior to the project commencing. These are inherently risky environments, no more so than when works interface with the public. The graveness of these health and safety responsibilities has been definitively and tragically highlighted by a recent case in which we were involved.
A tragic accident
In 2012, Amanda Telfer was killed when she was struck by 3 falling window frames whilst walking passed a construction site in Hanover Street, London. The frames had been lent unsecured against a wall of the building.
An unprecedented health and safety prosecution
The case was prosecuted over the course of some 19 months by the Crown Prosecution Service, assisted by the Health and Safety Executive. The prosecution followed a 3 year investigation and culminated in an 8 week trial in the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey in London. The case involved an unprecedented number of corporations and individuals being prosecuted collectively; 3 companies and 4 individuals in total.
My Business Council represented Westgreen Construction Ltd, the Principal Contractor on this site. The Company faced charges brought under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (Failure to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees at work and individuals not in its employment but affected by its undertaking). Two further companies, Drawn Metal Ltd and IS Europe Ltd, who were involved in the installation of the window frames, faced similar charges.
Kelvin Adsett, owner and Managing Director of IS Europe Ltd, Claire Gordon, Project Manager for Drawn Metal Ltd and Damian Lakin Hall, Project Manager previously employed by Westgreen Construction Ltd, all faced a charge of Gross Negligence Manslaughter and a health and safety charge brought under Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Steve Rogers, Contracts Manager, previously employed by Westgreen Construction Ltd, also faced a charge of Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Westgreen Construction Limited was represented by leading health and safety Counsel, Richard Matthews QC and Shauna Ritchie, both of 2 Bedford Row Chambers and instructed by Ashleigh Harold, Consultant Solicitor with My Business Counsel.
The issues during the trial focused on the delivery, translocation, storage and installation of the shopfront frames at the Hanover Square construction site and whether each of the defendants had adequately fulfilled their respective responsibilities. Our role was to prove that Westgreen Construction, the Principal Contractor with overall responsibility for the construction site, had an effective health and safety structure in place and had fulfilled its role and duties. With a reverse burden on the Company to prove this fact, the task was both challenging and complex.
Over the course of the proceedings, our client moved from the primary defendant on the indictment to 7th position. Through meticulous preparation and navigation of what were very complex legal issues we were able to demonstrate Westgreen Construction Limited had met all of its obligations as Principal Contractor on site.
Westgreen was cleared by a unanimous jury verdict of all charges against it.
Outcome of the Case for the Remaining Defendants
Other Not-Guilty Verdicts:
- Drawn Metal Ltd – Sections 2 and 3 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Claire Gordon – Manslaughter (by Gross Negligence) and Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Damian Lakin Hall – Manslaughter (by Gross Negligence).
- Steven Rogers – Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Kelvin Adsett – Manslaughter (by Gross Negligence) and Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- IS Europe Ltd – Sections 2 and 3 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Damian Lakin Hall – Section 7 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The sentencing for those found guilty took place on Friday 5 May 2017.
- Kelvin Adsett was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.
- IS Europe Ltd was fined £250 the total sum in its bank account however this would have been £100,000 had the Company been trading.
- Damian Lakin-Hall was sentenced to a 6 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years.
Prosecutions in this realm of litigation are characteristically complex. Ashleigh Harold’s skill, experience and support throughout the case ensured that a clear distinction was made between our corporate client, who had fulfilled its legal and regulatory obligations to the letter, and those with whom it worked alongside.
For those facing the intimidating prospect of complex health and safety prosecution, confidence is well-placed in Ashleigh, who has an extensive and successful track record for advising and representing clients in the most serious and high profile of health and safety prosecutions.