Frances Lawson secures negligible fine in asbestos health & safety prosecution

September 26, 2017

Frances Lawson managed to obtain an extraordinarily low fine for a building company who were guilty of several omissions under health and safety law in a case concerning the discovery of asbestos during conservatory demolition work.

The company, had been subcontracted by Anglian Windows to demolish the conservatory belonging to an elderly couple at their home in Essex. Anglian Windows had done an inadequate risk assessment which stated that asbestos was not visible at the time of survey. The company pleaded guilty to one offence under section 3 of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 having accepted the Health and Safety Executive’s view that they should have done their own risk assessment, ensured that all their workers had relevant asbestos training and followed correct procedures.

The HSE told the court that the case was one of ‘high-medium’ culpability under the Sentencing Guidelines, which indicated a starting point for a fine of £15,000-30,000. Ms Lawson, however, mitigated on the client’s behalf to the extent that the district judge at Basildon Magistrates Court lowered the starting point to £6,000, with a further reduction for the company’s poor financial circumstances and to take account of the early guilty plea.

The fine handed down was therefore just £2,000. Anglian Windows were fined £100,000 for the same offence.