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Oliver Powell represents timber designer and constructor in fire safety case

Oliver Powell, instructed by Roy Tozer and Hannah Frost of Shoosmiths represented a company who were sub-contracted  to design and construct a timber frame structure for a commercial building project. The organisation was charged with contravening section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (‘HSWA 1974’) in relation to the design and construction of new timber framed building immediately adjacent to an occupied residential building.

It was alleged that the organisation had failed to: ensure that the appropriate category of timber frame was used; and carry out an adequate assessment of the off-site fire risks.

For the purposes of the sentencing exercise, the Health and Safety Executive (‘HSE’) initially sought starting points of not less than £250,000, on the basis of ‘High culpability’ and ‘Harm Category 1’.

Relying on expert evidence relating to fire safety, including the statistical likelihood of harm, Oliver was able to persuade His Honour Judge Cartwright to sentence on the basis of ‘Medium culpability’ and ‘Harm Category 3’.

Taking into account the substantial mitigation advanced on behalf of the organisation and the early guilty plea entered, the fine imposed on the organisation was one of £20,000, which was some £230,000 less than had originally been sought by the HSE.

Oliver has defended numerous companies and company officers in prosecutions brought by the HSE and local authorities. To instruct Oliver or find out more, please contact David Smith (+44 (0)20 7427 4905).

News 2 Mar, 2020


Oliver Powell

Call: 2006

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