Christopher Hopkins - Regulatory and Licensing
Christopher is an experienced regulatory barrister who qualified at the bar following a period of service in the British Army. His experience includes over ten years working as an in-house barrister both prosecuting and defending criminal regulatory offences most recently in a top-ranked regulatory team at an international law firm. Christopher is therefore able to adapt between working in a team alongside solicitors and lay clients or as an individual depending upon what is required. He is also Direct Access accredited for members of the public to instruct him directly.
Christopher is an experienced advocate before the Criminal Courts, Coroners Inquests, Public Inquiries before the Traffic Commissioners, Licensing Committees, the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) and various professional disciplinary panels. As a former full-time prosecutor, he is well placed to provide timely and appropriate advice to regulators on the conduct of criminal investigations and disclosure. By virtue of his in-house experience, Christopher is also highly experienced in advising both individuals and organisations who are under investigation or undertaking their own internal reviews. He regularly assists clients with responding to requests from regulators for information and PACE interviews under caution.
Christopher’s background particularly in advising the construction, manufacturing, transport and education sectors has provided him with a unique insight into the commercial and practical implications of regulatory enforcement action. In 2013, he was seconded to Jaguar Land Rover as its legal compliance manager where he provided support at all levels within the global business from the Board to factory floor.
Christopher has advised on enforcement action and investigations being undertaken by a wide range of regulators including the Police, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environment Agency, Local Authorities, Natural England, Ofcom and the Marine Management Organisation. He was one of the first lawyers to negotiate a civil sanction with the Environment Agency as an alternative to prosecution. Examples of his recent work where Christopher has appeared as sole advocate include the following:
Criminal Regulatory Offences
Health & Safety
- In March 2011, Christopher represented a construction company and its sole director who were being prosecuted after a delivery driver had fallen down an unfinished lift shaft on a construction site suffering life changing injuries. The HSE was persuaded to withdraw proceedings against the director. Christopher then represented the company in the Crown Court where it was fined.
- In August 2015, Christopher represented a global construction business following an accident during tower crane lifting operations at one of its sites resulting in the lift supervisor suffering serious injuries. The company was prosecuted for three offences under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and fined a total of £22,000.
- In 2016, Christopher represented a communications company being prosecuted after one of its operatives was hit by a passing bus whilst undertaking roadworks. The company pleaded guilty to temporary traffic management failures and was fined.
- Christopher represented one of the world’s leading universities in 2013 when it was prosecuted following two water pollution incidents at its farm. Slurry had drained into a nearby river following unprecedented heavy rainfall. The Magistrates accepted jurisdiction and fined the university for two offences contrary to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
- Christopher was instructed by a national housebuilder being prosecuted for felling several trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order. Christopher represented the company, which pleaded guilty and was fined £8,000.
- In 2015, Christopher represented an international construction company being prosecuted by a Local Authority in London for breaching a construction noise notice issued under the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The Local Authority was persuaded to withdraw the prosecution and instead caution the company.
- In January 2016, Christopher successfully defended a farmer prosecuted after it had been alleged that slurry had escaped from his dairy farm into a nearby watercourse. The Court accepted a submission of no case to answer made at the close of the prosecution case and the farmer was both acquitted and awarded a Defence Costs Order.
- Christopher recently acted for a large food business being prosecuted by a statutory water and sewerage undertaker for multiple breaches of its Discharge Consent. He is also currently representing a micro business being prosecuted in the Crown Court for multiple breaches of its Discharge Consents.
Food Safety and Hygiene
Christopher has advised a wide range of food business operators on compliance issues as well as abattoirs and cutting plants. He has defended operators being prosecuted for food safety offences and recently prosecuted an operator for a Local Authority resulting in a Hygiene Prohibition Order being imposed.
In May 2016, Christopher was instructed on behalf of a deceased’s family in a week-long jury Inquest following an employee’s death from injuries he sustained in a fall at work. In 2017, he represented a medical professional at the Inquest of an elderly man who had tragically lost his life in a Care Home.
Traffic Commissioner Public Inquiries
In March 2016, Christopher represented a large Local Authority which had been called to its second Public Inquiry in two years due to issues involving its good repute and professional competence, and the professional competence of its Transport Manager. No action was taken against the Transport Manager and the Operator avoided having its licence revoked.
In December 2017, Christopher represented a small business on a Direct Access basis which had been called to a Public Inquiry due to issues involving its good repute and professional competence, and the professional competence of its Transport Manager. The Operator avoided having its licence revoked.
In 2017, Christopher represented a London Estate Agency on its appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) against the imposition of a monetary penalty by a Local Authority for failing to join an approved Property Redress Scheme. The appeal resulted in the monetary penalty being significantly reduced.
Christopher has also advised organisations on appealing Monetary Penalty Notices issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Christopher regularly appears for Licensing Authorities in taxi licensing appeals both in the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts.
Christopher has acted for alcohol and entertainment licence holders on appeal to the Magistrates’ Court. He regularly provides representation at Licensing Committee Hearings for a range of licensees from small businesses to national retailers.
Road Traffic Law
Christopher’s practice covers the full range of driving offences from failures to provide information and speeding to causing death by dangerous driving. He recently represented a defendant in the Crown Court who was convicted of careless driving after having initially been charged with causing serious injury by dangerous driving. In 2017, he represented an HGV driver at a two-day Coroner’s Inquest following a fatal accident between his vehicle and a motorcyclist in London.
In 2017, Christopher acted for an Appellant company in a two-day appeal in the Magistrates’ Court against an Abatement Notice served upon it by the Local Authority following complaints from residents about odour from industrial premises.
Health and Safety Lawyers Association