“BCL’s ‘extremely capable’ team is noted for its ‘clear strength in regulatory investigations’.”
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 created for the first time a single legal framework regarding fire safety for commercial premises and communal parts of domestic premises.
The Order imposes strict duties on responsible persons and others to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments, take general fire precautions, keep records and have fire safety arrangements and fire-fighting/detection equipment in place. Non-compliance is a criminal offence where one or more relevant persons were at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire.
To enforce the Order, the fire authorities have extensive powers. Even in the absence of a fire, they can make enquiries, enter and inspect premises, request copies of documents and issue enforcement notices (including prohibiting the use of premises). Where there are serious breaches, organisations or individuals may face a criminal investigation and prosecution in the criminal courts.
The Courts have emphasised that, when it comes to fire, “one does not have to think too deeply in order to appreciate the potential for disaster” and made it clear that there need not be a death or even serious injury for the Court to deal harshly with breaches. Very high fines and severe reputation damage are not uncommon.
BCL has considerable expertise in relation to defending investigations and prosecutions arising out of fires and fatal accidents. We have an in depth understanding of the complexities of the Fire Safety Order, as well as corporate manslaughter, and extensive experience of managing the relationship with the investigator, whilst protecting at all times the interests of the organisations and individuals concerned. We provide expert assistance throughout the process from the outset of an investigation to its conclusion.
We provide specialist advice and representation to organisations and individuals in areas such as:
- Crisis management.
- Responding to a Fire and Rescue Authority investigation following fatal and serious fires and enforcement notices.
- Regulators’ powers, including compelled requests for documentation and witness interviews.
- Defending alleged breaches of fire safety law.
- Legally privileged internal investigations.
- Challenging enforcement notices and the approach to remedial action.
- Requests to attend PACE interviews under caution.
- Defending prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.
- Representation at Coroners’ inquests and inquiries.
Successful ‘no further action’ achieved and enforcement notice withdrawn in relation to a fire safety investigation concerning an historic central London property.
Advising a Fire Protection Consultancy in relation to an investigation concerning the installation of fire protection equipment.
Successful ‘no further action’ achieved in relation to a Fire Authority investigation of a Property Management Company concerning alleged fire safety breaches at a number of properties under management.
Successful ‘no further action’ achieved in relation to a Fire Authority investigation of a Hotel Group.
Advising a Local Authority in relation to a fatal accident investigation following a major fire in a block of flats.
Advising a senior manager of a care home in relation to alleged fire safety breaches.