Presentation 1 – Fire safety – Post Grenfell  

Presentation 2 – Entertainment / Alcohol Licensing – What’s new?

Presentation 3 – Coroner’s inquests – what’s in it for me?

Presentation 4 – Sentencing and what does it really mean?

Presentation 5 – Regulatory smorgasbord  – topical round up of cases, developments and issues to watch out for

Presentation 6 –  Insurers – what can they make you and what can they not make you do?!

Woods Whur’s Regulatory Team would like to invite you to its latest regulatory seminar on 25 September 2019 from 9:00am until 12 noon at Gateshead College’s impressive seminar space.

Woods Whur’s niche specialist regulatory lawyers will be delivering a topical round up on a variety of regulatory matters from food, fire, health & safety to environmental, coronial law and entertainment licensing. We do hope that you can join us for what promises to be a useful series of presentations on the ever changing world of regulatory compliance, investigation and enforcement.

The speakers will be James Thompson, the Head of Regulatory Department, who has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients, subject to regulatory investigation and prosecution.  He also has many years’ experience from the police service.  James also sits as a Coroner for County Durham.

Along with James, Andy Woods will also be speaking. Andy is a nationally acknowledged expert in licensing & gaming law will be speaking on topical issues affecting those operating in that sector. Andy has specialised in licensing for over 25 years and has higher rights of audience which allows him to represent his clients in all UK courts concerned with any proceedings. Andy has received commendations for his skill in running large projects in the betting and gaming sector. He acts for international, national and individual operators concerned with both alcohol and gambling licensing.

Sarah Frow from within the Regulatory team will also be speaking alongside James and Andy. Sarah is a regulatory and licensing lawyer and assists business clients facing investigations and prosecutions by the police, the Health and Safety Executive, the Care Quality Commission, the Gambling Commission, Food Standards Agency and other regulatory bodies. As well as criminal proceedings, Sarah advises clients regarding inquests and public inquiries.

If you can join us, please contact Sarah Griffiths, our Seminar Co-Ordinator, on sarah@woodswhur.co.uk who can confirm your place/places and send you joining instructions.

We look forward to seeing you on 25 September 2019.
Woods Whur

I am delighted to announce that we have secured two premises licences at Meridian Water in Enfield for Broadwick Live in conjunction with Venue Lab.

I have been lucky enough to be instructed by Venue Lab in the significant development of their estate over recent years. I was pleased to have secured the Printworks Licence in the former news press hall of the Evening Standard, Daily Mail and Metro Printworks in Canada Water which has gone on to become the iconic venue in South London. Subsequent to that, we secured a premises licence for Exhibition London in the former Victorian Structure which originally was used as an engine house for the Central London Railways. The premises sit within the heart of the Westfield Development in Shephard’s Bush and will become an event space and live music venue.

The vision which my client have shown in relation to these premises caused Enfield Council to approach them to see if there was interest in the redevelopment of Meridian Water in Enfield. Having secured a premises licence for the Field Day Festival to be operated on the site this year, I have recently negotiated hard with all of the responsible authorities to allow for the grant of the 7,000 capacity new premises to be known as the Drumsheds. This will operate as an events space and late night electronic and live music venue, exhibiting all of the usual vision of Venue Lab to convert redundant industrial buildings.

This has been developed in partnership with Enfield and Meridian Water, the UK’s largest regeneration project. A £6 billion investment will transform the site into a thriving hub of creativity, which even includes a new network rail over-ground station at Meridian Water.

The Drumsheds sits at the heart of this huge regeneration project and Broadwick Venues and Venue Lab are proud to partner Enfield Council to create this new destination for events, culture and the arts in North London.

I was involved from initial instructions to attending before the licensing sub-committee to secure the premises licence for the Drumsheds.

I am delighted to announce that Luke Elford has today joined Woods Whur.

Luke is ranked as the Associate to Watch for Licensing by Chambers & Partners and as a Next Generation Lawyer by The Legal 500.  He has previously been part of the highly regarded practice at Jeffrey Green Russell prior to joining TLT and has developed an excellent client base in London.

Luke specialises in all forms of alcohol and entertainment licensing and has a wide range of experience having previously worked for a London local authority. Luke is uniquely placed to advise clients from ‘both sides of the fence’ and Luke provides strategic and commercial advice helping clients to navigate the myriad of rules and regulations facing licensed premises. He qualified as a solicitor in 2012 and now represents a significant number of high-profile premises in London and around the UK. Luke is described as a “street-wise and up-and-coming licensing lawyer” whilst other commentators praise his “fantastic client service and dedication to the task.”

Luke will work out of our new London offices in Princelet Street which we have just moved into. These offices are operated by Fora Space who have been a client of ours for some time and I am delighted that we have moved into these fantastic offices.

Recent Highlights:

  • Blakes Hotel – Luke acted for Blakes Hotel helping the hotel obtain a new 24 hour premises licence despite fierce objection from officers and local residents.
  • Electric Shuffle London Bridge – Luke assisted the team behind Flight Club Darts in obtaining a premises licence at London Bridge station. With a site located in the cumulative impact zone and objections from 50 local residents Luke persuaded Southwark’s licensing sub-committee to grant a premises licence against its own policy.
  • Jigsaw – Luke helped well-known retailer Jigsaw secure a premises licence in Westminster’s cumulative impact zone for its marquee premises at Carriage Hall in Covent Garden. Luke was able to convince Westminster to grant a licence with a bar element contrary to policy.
  • 34 Surrey Street – called into action when a nightclub in Croydon was the subject of an application for summary review by the Metropolitan Police, Luke was able to convince the borough’s licensing sub-committee that their initial decision [to shut the premises] was wrong and to allow the premises to reopen during the crucial festive period. The sub-committee then agreed [at the full review hearing] that the premises could remain open operating under new management and conditions.
  • Nobu Hotel Shoreditch Luke represented Nobu in relation to their application for a premises licence in Hackney’s Shoreditch Special Policy Area. Luke was able to convince the sub-committee to grant a premises licence in spite of objections from the police, environmental health and local residents.

James and Sarah consider two recent Court of Appeal Hearings and its significance following National Asbestos Awareness Week.

 

Two recent Appeal court hearings have reduced the fines imposed on the defendants for different reasons. Would you benefit from the courts stance?

 

In the first case, a company, London NPS, argued that they should have been treated as a small organisation rather than a large organisation under the Sentencing Guidelines. This would have a direct effect on the fine imposed on them. The Sentencing Guidelines are used by the courts to determine the suitable sentence passed on a defendant. The Court of Appeal ruled in the Appellant’s favour on the basis that each incorporated company is a separate legal entity. This is significant and useful to know when an organisation is operating in a group structure. It shows that the courts will treat the offender as the company that was guilty of the act. The fine was reduced from £370,000 to £50,000 as a result of this. This is not just applicable to asbestos matters, but also health and safety matters as the same considerations apply to company sizes. Smaller companies with larger groups of companies may be protected from paying for subsidiary company’s mistakes.

The second appeal concerned the court’s determination of the level of the “likelihood of harm” in a case appealed by the Squibb Group, again this relates to the Sentencing Guidelines. The court criticised the Judge that sentenced the matter for failing to explain why he had disregarded scientific evidence submitted at the trial by the defendant. The court commented that long term risks of this nature are inheritably difficult to assess and quantify and any estimate must be subject to a wide margin of error. The court went on to say that this is not a reason to reject or disregard whatever scientific evidence is available and a rational approach for a Court to adopt these circumstances is to rely on the best evidence that it has. The court reduced the fine from the likelihood of harm from medium to low and reduced the original £400,000 fine to £190,000. The guidelines set out the seriousness of the offence by considering a number of factors, including harm. The significance of this case is relevant for any business that has had work done and/or obtained reports in respect of asbestos, or indeed other issues, as these assist in cases such as this. As with most things, preparation is the key here and by keeping reports and other documents they could assist many years in the future.

Although asbestos was banned in 1999, it is still present in at least half a million buildings constructed before this time. It is important that companies are aware of their responsibility to manage exposure to asbestos whether it’s by creating an asbestos survey, regularly reviewing any work that is done to a property, and sharing information with those affected by their use/role in the building.

If you are concerned or not sure whether you are responsible for managing asbestos exposure and to what extent in relation to your legal obligations then please contact James or Sarah to discuss.

B&Q have pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act following an incident at their Kidderminster store which resulted in a pole from a promotional display falling on a customer, causing serious head injuries.

The court fined B&Q £300,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £8,000.  The court heard that B&Q had failed to examine the display as part of daily checks at the store, which would have shown that retainer clips had not been fitted, which meant the signage was not secured.

It’s clear from this case the importance of checking your premises regularly, particularly those temporary structures that may be marketing/advertising displays.

Although the fine appears large enough, B&Q managed to reduce the potential fine by quickly taking action following the accident; this included removing all of the display banner poles to ensure that a similar incident would not occur. In addition it pleaded guilty to the offences which allowed a reduction in the overall fine handed down by the court by up to a third. If not for these prompt actions the fine would have been much higher.

The lesson from this case is any change within a business should be assessed for risks by way of risk assessment and regularly reviewed. Temporary changes to your premises or operations which last for one day or for a couple of weeks still need the same level of scrutiny as long established fixtures and processes. Whilst in this case the source of the accident was an incorrectly constructed advertising display, how many short term measures do you introduce to your business each year and how carefully do you check their health and safety impact of doing so?

James and Sarah consider the Sentencing Council’s report published this month into the Health and Safety sentencing.

The sentencing guidelines are used in courts to promote greater consistency in sentencing for health and safety offences. The guidelines came into force in February 2016. The Sentencing Council have now prepared a report into the effectiveness of the guidelines.

As anticipated, fines have increased overall for organisations after the guidelines came into force. In particular, fines have seen a considerable increase for larger organisations, those that have an annual turnover of £50 million and over. The report states that in the 10 months prior to the sentencing guidelines being in place, the median fine amount was £12,000. In the 10 months after the sentencing guidelines were published, the median fine amount increased to £60,000. That’s an increase of 400%! Fine amounts increased for all sizes of organisations, although the Sentencing Council have commented that they did not anticipate fines to rise for individuals – they have!

Mitigating and aggravating factors in the context of sentencing are those circumstances which may reduce(mitigating) or increase (aggravating) the sentence accordingly. Interestingly, the report states that mitigating factors were cited much more frequently than aggravating factors (90 percent of cases compared with 50 percent, respectively). On average, around two mitigating factors were cited in the report considered. This contrasts with aggravating factors where, on average, less than one aggravating factor was cited in each case. The most common aggravating factors cited were ‘previous convictions’ and ‘cost-cutting at the expense of safety’. We cannot stress the robust stance courts take when ‘cost cutting’ is demonstrated as a factor in the offence.

So what should we take from this? Clearly fines are increasing. The most stark difference is that of fines given to any organisation regardless of size are now routinely significant and in some cases terminal for the viability of that business.

The likes of Poundstretcher, Tata Steel, Tesco, and Stagecoach have all been handed fines of £1 million or more after breaching health and safety law in the last year. The £1 million fine is becoming the new ‘norm’ in the health and safety arena.

James, after an extensive and very competitive process, has been appointed a Coroner for the County of Durham and Darlington. James is now responsible with his fellow Coroners to investigate violent and unnatural deaths in this area, together with other deaths which the law specifies require scrutiny such as deaths in police and prison custody.

This is a prestigious appointment for James and reflects on the expertise he has in the investigation of deaths, particularly in the workplace setting.

This is a part time appointment for James and he will continue with the firm dealing with all regulatory matters as well as representing clients at inquests where they require guidance and support.

We all, at the firm, wish James well for his appointment and should you have any questions touching upon inquests and investigation of death, James will only be too happy to answer them for you.

Anna Mathias

Posted by Woods Whur | Woods Whur

It is with great sadness that we learned over the weekend of Anna’s sudden passing. Everyone at Woods Whur is devastated at the loss of a fabulous work colleague and friend. Anna was only in the office a week ago and as usual, she filled the place with her own special personality.

We were delighted when Anna agreed to join us in February 2015 as Andy and I had known, respected and liked her for many years. Even when she was on the other side of cases, she was fair and decent and we held her in the highest of regards.

Very soon after she joined us, we realised that we were very lucky. Not only was Anna a superb technical lawyer, an immensely hard worker who was loved by her clients she was most of all, a beautiful kind-hearted person that lit up our office. Her eccentricities helped to make her an even more special person to be around. Turning up for a meeting with me at Kings Cross with Poppy Terrier on a lead, getting on the wrong train home after her 50th Birthday celebration….and ending up staying the night in Harrogate, are just a few examples of her unique and loveable character.

Talking to her clients yesterday has made Andy and I realise how respected she was within her circle. Some very emotional conversations have made us realise how her personal approach and professionalism, had touched the lives of many within our industry.

Two special occasions stand out for us. We held a surprise 50th Birthday party for Anna just after she had become engaged to Viv and we had a fantastic day with Anna, capped off by her night in Harrogate. The real highlight was seeing her reaction when we won the Yorkshire Legal Awards Best Niche Law Firm in October last year. She was the natural representative for the group photo, and she danced the night away.

All of our love is with her Mum, Brother and fiancé Viv as they go through the worst of times.

It will never quite be the same at Woods Whur without our lady in red.

Rest in peace Anna, you will forever be in our hearts.

 

We would like to pass on our thanks to Simon Thomas for letting us use the auditorium in the Hippodrome Casino and also to our external speakers, Philip Kolvin QC, Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission and Kerry Simpkin from Westminster Council.

We had a fantastic mixed audience from all parts of the gambling industry – online, traditional land based betting and casino operators, bingo operators, the Lotteries sector – a broad spectrum of clients and also representatives of a number of licensing authorities.

Philip Kolvin opened up our conference and gave a fantastic presentation on risk.  A significant number of delegates commented during the break how thought-provoking this was. Philip was followed by Andy who dealt with review of recent cases and issues. There are some significant cases of note in Gambling Law as the Regulator has definitely sharpened its focus of dealing with problem operators.

James Thompson, the Head of our Regulatory team then looked at the significant issues of the sentencing guidelines changing on prosecutions for regulatory breaches, and also some very topical issues in relation to data protection and the changes in legislation. Big thanks to James who had to leave home in Newcastle at 3.30 in the morning so as to get to London to deliver his presentation.

Anna Mathias gave the audience her lotteries update which came with perfect timing, as she has just been appointed to the Board of the Lotteries Commission for Great Britain.  The lotteries operators in the audience found her update particularly interesting and pertinent to their sector.  We are very proud that she now sits on the Board of such an important and worthwhile organisation.

In the second half of the conference we had Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission who gave a very interesting insight into the national policy being promoted by the Gambling Commission in 2018. Some interesting changes of focus can be seen in his presentation as the direction of travel for the GC starts to change.

After Ben gave us the national picture, Kerry Simpkin highlighted the Gambling perspective from Westminster Council, explaining what their Licensing Authority expects to see in terms of risk assessment and how their new statement of licensing policy is going from 60 to 353 pages.

Andy and Anna brought the conference to a close with a compliance, regulation and challenges presentation.  This gave the audience a good understanding of some of the regulatory impacts that are challenging  and will further challenge the gambling sector.

We thoroughly enjoyed the day and in particular, the questions and issues raised by delegates in my wrap up session.

If you would like a copy of any of the materials used at the conference, please email sarah@woodswhur.co.uk, who will be happy to assist.

If there are any questions from those who attended the seminar or those who unfortunately could not attend, then Andy, Anna, James and myself would be delighted to deal with those direct enquiries.

Paddy Whur

Anna has been retained as standing adviser to the Board and its membership for around a decade and we believe that this appointment will, amongst other things, facilitate the free-flow of on-the-spot advice on regulatory matters at Board meetings.

Anna is pleased to accept this appointment and is keen to support the Council in any way she can.

This is a pivotal time for the society lotteries sector. We are seeing the amendments to financial limits on proceeds, profits and “good causes” percentage being considered by Government, dealing with the latest Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice changes focusing on society lotteries, digesting the latest Audit Report on the National Lottery and anticipating the next National Lottery bid competition.

At the same time, the sector is going from strength to strength, with over £255m being raised for good causes last year, based on Gambling Commission figures – a rise of over £43m on the previous year. The contribution to the “good cause” out of ticket sales also rose from an already impressive 43% to 43.6%. During the same period, the Lotteries Council also saw its biggest ever increase in membership – up by 12% year-on-year, with a particular increase among Local Authorities who run lotteries – their membership swelled from 5 to 22.

The Lotteries Council is an influential and powerful body when it comes to lobbying for changes in the society lotteries sector, to maximise the amounts raised for good causes whilst, at the same time, promoting social responsibility.