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Regulatory law solicitors

Regulatory offences are, as the name suggests, breaches of regulations relating to specific industries or activities which are usually prosecuted by non-police organisations such as local authorities, Trading Standards, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

Prosecutions can be brought against businesses or individuals and can often be highly complex, with particular attention given to the technical detail of any relevant regulations. If you are facing prosecution for an alleged regulatory offence then the specialist solicitors at Minton Morrill can help.

Common examples of regulatory examples include:

Health and safety offences

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, as well as contractors and anyone else who visits their site or premises. This ranges from ensuring that people know what to do in the event of a fire through to making sure that workers are given the appropriate safety equipment when undertaking tasks which carry certain risks, for example, if they have to climb up on a roof or are working with hazardous chemicals.

Failure to meet your health and safety obligations as an employer can result in substantial fines, often hundreds of thousands of pounds. If this failure results in someone’s death then you could be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, for which you could be fined millions of pounds, in addition to any compensation you may be ordered to pay the deceased’s family.

Health and safety offences are prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has the power to investigate any incident or complaint involving your business. If you are facing an HSE investigation then you should seek legal advice immediately, given the seriousness of such matters.

Food hygiene offences

Premises which sell food are bound by strict regulations governing how food is stored and prepared, for example keeping raw meat separate from cooked meat, as well as the cleanliness and state of repair of their premises. These rules are generally enforced by the environmental health departments of local authorities, who have the power to carry out inspections of all food premises within their jurisdiction. 

If a food seller is found to fall below the standard expected then they will be asked to remedy any problems. In more serious cases, they may be served with a formal legal notice ordering them to carry out remedial work or forbidding them from doing certain things.

In the most serious cases, including refusal to abide by the legal notice, the local authority may decide to prosecute, leading to substantial fines, not to mention the damage to your reputation as a result of any negative publicity (local authorities usually publish food hygiene inspection reports on their websites). Inspectors also have the power to shut down premises until they are satisfied that they are fully compliant.

Trading Standards offences

Trading Standards officers are part of the local authority (usually the county council) and investigate a wide range of offences, including those relating to copyright, trademarks, trade descriptions, weights and measures and consumer credit agreements. Penalties for these offences can include unlimited fines and even imprisonment, so it is essential to seek expert legal representation at the first sign of a Trading Standards investigation against you or your business.

Hallmarking

This is another area dealt with by Trading Standards departments and covers the way items made from or containing precious metals – such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium – are described and sold. A hallmark is a mark stamped on an item, such as a piece of jewellery, when it passed tests required by the Assay Office. This mark tells the buyer whether it is made from any of the above precious metals.

It is an offence to describe items which are not hallmarked as being partly or entirely made from a precious metal, or to supply an item made from a precious material which has not been hallmarked. Hallmarking is not required for items below a certain weight, depending on the precious metal being used. It is also an offence to amend or deface a hallmark without written permission from the Assay Office.

This is a particularly complex area of law, so seeking legal advice from specialist solicitors at the first sign of a Trading Standards investigation is important in order to ensure you receive the best possible representation.

Other regulatory offences

At Minton Morrill, we are also able to advise on a wide range of other regulatory matters, including alcohol licensing, commercial drivers (including drivers’ hours and tachograph offences) and Environment Agency investigations.

For information relating to Taxi/Private Hire Licence Appeals click here

To find out how our specialist regulatory offences solicitors in Leeds, Yorkshire and the North of England can help you, please contact us.

 

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