Rothera Dowson boosts solicitor team

Road transport law firm Rothera Dowson has strengthened its team of solicitors with the appointment of Laura Newton.

Newton has dealt with cases involving the O-licensing regime and driver infringements and has represented operators in front of traffic commissioners. She was a senior legal adviser to magistrates at HM Courts Services. Before that she worked with Border Force.

Anton Balkitis, a partner at Rothera Dowson, said: “Laura brings invaluable knowledge and skills to our already formidable transport team and we’re thrilled to have her on board.”

Health and safety fines rise to a maximum of £20m

Companies that breach health and safety law could face fines of up to £20m as of today (1 February) as new sentencing guidelines for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences come into force.

The guidelines set out tough procedures for how the courts can sentence companies and individuals. Courts will need to take into consideration the degree of harm caused, the culpability of the offender, and the turnover of the organisation when calculating the fine payable in a corporate manslaughter case.

Larger businesses with a turnover of over £50m could face a maximum fine of £20m if found responsible for a death in the workplace, while smaller firms could be forced to pay £180,000. According to the British Safety Council, the largest fine imposed for a health and safety offence to date was £15m to Transco (now National Grid) in 2005.

Such large fines could have a great impact on the profitability of some of the largest HGV operators, and may even result in closure.

It is hoped that the sharp increase in fines will encourage HGV operators and their customers to tighten up their health and safety procedures and discourage their employees from breaking the law. Operators should take this opportunity to ensure compliance and undertake the risk assessments required.

See Commercialmotor.com’s health and safety guide for more.