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Patrick Cassidy (Deputy Head of Chambers)

Has Health & Safety Gone Mad? The Court of Appeal Says No

by Patrick Cassidy (Deputy Head of Chambers) 19/03/2021

Patrick Cassidy, ranked in the Legal 500 2020/2021 for Crime and Inquests, summarises the recent Court of Appeal decision regarding a Health & Safety case concerning a Care Home Death.

The Crown v (1) AH Ltd ( 2) MR SJ

Hearing date 4th of March 2021.

1. Rumpole of the Bailey would often pride himself on the golden strand of British justice being the fact that the prosecution had to prove each ingredient of the offence.
However this recent health and safety case concerning a death of a care home resident illustrates the continued incursion of this principle when dealing with health and safety at work offences.

2. These allegation emerged after a resident sustained severe leg burns occasioned by scalding hot water whilst taking a bath which ultimately caused the death. An indictment was drawn up as against the Company running the care home and a director of that care home.

3.The case ended up in the Court of Appeal after a challenge to the interlocutory ruling as to the interpretation of Section 40 of the health and safety at work act 1974. This section reads as follows "in any proceedings for an offence under any of the relevant statutory common provisions consisting of a failure to comply with the duty or a requirement to do something so far as is reasonably practicable it shall be for the accused to prove that it was not reasonably practical to do more than was in fact done to satisfy the due to your requirement. In the sphere of criminal law there are very few clauses which place a legal burden upon a defendant.

4. This case was a full-frontal challenge to the judgements of the Crown V Davies 2003 ICR586 and the Crown V Chargot 2009 1WLR1 that placed a legal rather than evidential burden upon a defendant .

5. To that challenge the court unequivocally rejected it by underlining that they regarded the decision in Davies and Chargot to be binding and permission to appeal was refused.

6. Back to the drawing board Rumpole fetishists.