Care home briefing 113 – Health and safety: Increasing fines for breach of fire safety provisions

The 2005 Fire Safety Provisions [1] will have been in force for 6 years by November 2012. The hazard caused by fire is obvious and the Courts have been adopting a tough approach to fines imposed on those who fail to comply with the regulations.

A recent case [2] led to a fine of £400,000 as a result of failures in relation to a shop in Oxford Street in particular:

  • Failing to carry out an adequate risk assessment
  • Failing to ensure that employees were provided with adequate training
  • The basis for the prosecution was therefore very straightforward. The Defendant was probably not helped by the fact that it had only one fire safety advisor to cover the 600+ shops in the group.

Although the magnitude of the fine was appealed, this was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The bases for the prosecution in the New Look case are matters that care home operators will be well aware of. Risk assessment and training are essential parts of any care home business and it is clearly important to ensure careful attention is paid to the fire safety legislation.

The Courts have continued to impose high penalties for such breaches:

  • £95,000 fine for Tesco as a result of a fire in a staff kitchen
  • £210,000 for the Co-op Group, amongst other breaches, for failure to keep fire doors unlocked
  • Imprisonment for a hotel manager for failing to do proper fire inspections and allowing blocked exit doors and unsuitable fire risk assessments
  • Fire safety is important; the approach of the Courts underlines this.

Andrew Parsons
e: andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com
© RadcliffesLeBrasseur

Footnotes

[1] The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
[2] R v New Look Retailers Limited [2010] EWCA Crim 1268


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.