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Criminal Law - Health & Safety Sanctions

Criminal Law - Sanctions

The employer may be prosecuted in Court for an offence he has committed. Whether the case is decided at Crown Court or the Magistrates Court, the employer can face an unlimited fine. 

An individual (such as a director, manager, employee, professional adviser, etc.) may also be prosecuted at either Crown Court or Magistrates Court. Whether the case is decided at Crown Court or the Magistrates Court, the individual can face an unlimited fine or a substantial prison sentence or both a fine and imprisonment (but not all offences can attract a prison sentence). 

In serious cases where someone has been killed, police investigations might show that manslaughter charges should be brought against an individual.

On convicting an employer or an individual, a Court can award the prosecution costs against the accused.

The employer or individual may, instead of being prosecuted, be treated more leniently by the health and safety enforcement authority. HSE inspectors or environmental health officers may choose to issue either an Improvement Notice or a Prohibition Notice. An Improvement Notice requires the employer or individual to redress a health and safety problem, generally within a time limit set out in the notice. A Prohibition Notice requires an employer or individual to cease a hazardous activity or otherwise remove a danger immediately or by a certain time.

The employer or individual who does not comply with the terms of any of these Notices commits a serious criminal offence, and one which can attract a prison sentence if either the breach of a Notice served on an employer was due to the conduct of any director, senior manager or other individual and/or the individual breached a Notice served on him or her.

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