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John Cooper KC and Malcolm Galloway are successful in securing a reduction in the fine imposed against Electricity North West

John Cooper KC and Malcolm Galloway, instructed by Paul Matthews (DWF Leeds), were successful today in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) securing an 85% reduction in the fine imposed against Electricity North West by HHJ Altham at the Crown Court at Preston in March of this year. The Company had been found guilty of breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (‘WAHR 2005’) and fined £900,000.

Giving the judgement of the court Lord Justice Simon accepted the appellants submissions on Culpability and found that the appropriate starting point was on the cusp between “low” and “medium” culpability (HHJ Altham had found ‘High’) and agreed the Harm level was ‘Category 3’. They reduced the starting point to £135,000 and importantly, agreed with the appellant (who was a Very Large Organisation), that it was not appropriate or necessary for any further upward adjustment to reflect the turnover of the Company due to the facts of the case. The fine was therefore reduced from £900,000 to £135,000.

The jury had acquitted the company on count 1, breaching regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and on count 3, breaching s.2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Company had appealed against the conviction on two grounds: firstly, in the light of the acquittals on counts 1 and 3, the only factual basis for the conviction on count 2 could be one that did not give rise to any material risk, and such a shortcoming could not constitute a breach of regulation 4(1) of WAHR 2005. Second, and linked to the first ground, the conviction on count 2 was logically inconsistent with the acquittals on counts 1 and 3. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal against the Conviction and the Company is considering its position.

Click here to view the full judgment.

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