- December 23, 2015
- Posted by: Josiah Hincks Solicitors
- Category: Business Law Updates
Meeting health and safety rules is often the final entry on small businesses’ priority lists – however, breaking them can have catastrophic consequences. In one case, a hotelier who repeatedly flouted fire regulations was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay almost £30,000 towards the costs of his prosecution.
The man owned a small hotel and, despite warnings, had failed to invest sufficient money to bring the premises into line with the rules. He was prosecuted after fire inspectors uncovered a number of breaches, including fire doors held open with electrical cables. The fuse had also been removed from the hotel’s fire detection system.
He admitted seven breaches of fire safety regulations and, on top of the fine and costs order, he was given a four-month suspended jail term. In challenging those penalties before the Court of Appeal, he pointed out that he no longer owned the hotel and that, at the time of the inspection, he had delegated its day-to-day management to others.
Dismissing his appeal, however, the Court noted that the duty to comply with fire safety rules is non-delegable and that, as the hotel’s owner, he bore ultimate responsibility. Whilst there had been no fire, the potential for disaster in a six-storey hotel, with a single staircase, was obvious. The offences were so serious that neither a community penalty nor a fine on its own would have been sufficient.