Wed, 06 Jan 2016
Corporate Crime analysis: Alex Stein, barrister at No5 Chambers specialising in criminal and regulatory law, looks ahead to the likely developments in 2016 in the area of health and safety and corporate manslaughter.
Legal developments and practical impact
How is 2016 shaping up in terms of important cases and legislative developments?
In the health and safety and environmental law field I am predicting a relatively quiet year on the legislative front while the changes of 2015 bed in.
In the recent case of Property Alliance Group Ltd v Royal Bank of Scotland plc  EWHC 3187 (Ch),  All ER (D) 67 (Nov), Mr Justice Snowden provided a detailed analysis of the law relating to legal advice privilege (LAP). On one view the case broadens the scope of meetings and advice that are protected by LAP and from the corporate defendant's point of view this will be welcomed. It will be interesting to see if the claimants appeal in 2016.
How will these developments affect your cases and working life?
As mentioned above, the Property Alliance Group case will make it easier to advise defendants facing regulatory investigations.
What would you like to see in 2016?
A move away from the use of the criminal courts for enforcement in environmental and health and safety cases. In my view, the criminal courts are a very blunt tool in relation to these problems and the civil sanctions available under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2008 offer a much more sensible solution which can protect the financial viability of a company (and therefore protect jobs) and effectively protect the public.
Clients and business developments
How might the expected developments in 2016 affect your business and clients?
A move away from the criminal courts can only be a good thing for corporate defendants. Under any civil enforcement proceedings there is much more certainty in relation to costs and outcome. Likewise the potential effect of a criminal conviction on tendering processes and the like is reduced.
From a personal point of view I would hope to continue to develop my practice in this area as well maintaining my inquests work.
Interviewed by Kate Beaumont. This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime analysis on 18 December 2015. Click for a free trial of Lexis®PSL.
To read the first part of this interview click here for: Health and safety and corporate manslaughter—2015 in review.