Viewing: Regulatory for Adam Farrer

Adam specialises in Health and Safety and Personal Injury work. His Health and Safety work consists of serious and complex cases. Adam is equally at home prosecuting or defending cases.
Adam is listed in the Chambers UK Bar Directory 2016/17 as a “Leader in their field” for Health and Safety work and in the Legal 500 as a Leading Junior for Regulatory/Health and Safety Work and Inquests and Inquiries.
Adam is on the Attorney General’s Specialist HSE and Environmental Law Panel “A” List on the Attorney General’s Civil (Junior Counsel to the Crown) Panel. The Civil Panel encompasses civil work on behalf of Government departments and includes personal injury work, judicial review work and Inquests.
Adam over 20 years experience of conducting cases in the Crown Court and the Magistrates Court. Adam covers cases on a national basis.
Adam finds that the Health and Safety and Personal Injury work compliment each other, with Adam regularly finding he is instructed to defend a company in a Health and Safety prosecution and then act in the inevitable Personal Injury claim. In fatal accident cases this also extends to acting at the Inquest.
Adam has acted in a substantial number of cases involving fatalities and serious injuries for and against Companies and section 37 HSWA prosecutions against directors. Adam has considerable experience of advising and appearing in cases arising from manufacturing machinery, construction, asbestos, gas, care homes and farming. Adam has considerable experience of abuse of process applications in regulatory cases.
Inquest work is a specialist area of Adam practice. Adam regularly appears in cases involving deaths in custody, military deaths and work related fatalities.
Year of Birth: 1967
Interests: golf, tennis and skiing.
Notable Cases
HSE Prosecution of CP Environmental Limited, Derby Crown Court, HHJ Bennett
September 2018
Defendant represented by a QC. Guilty plea on day of trial to a section 2(1) HSWA offence, following a serious injury involving a mobile crusher machine. An employee’s big toe and part of his second toe were amputated when caught in the teeth of the machine when he operated it with the remote-control unit whilst he performed maintenance on it. A number of employees had devised an unsafe system of performing maintenance work on the crusher machine whilst it was powered and operated it via the remote-control unit. This was done as a shortcut to save time. They should have isolated the power during maintenance work, which would have prevented the use of the remote-control unit and such an accident occurring. The defendant company accepted it failed to supervise and monitor the employees work adequately. Small/micro company, medium culpability, level 3 harm. Fine of GBP 34,000, plus full costs.
HSE Prosecution of IKO Design Limited, Leicester Crown Court, HHJ Brown
January 2018
Guilty plea to work at height offences, following the death of an employee, who fell through a fragile roof at the defendant’s factory whilst assisting another employee to cut a hole in the roof for a chimney vent. The defendant took no steps in relation to safety. There was no risk assessment, safe system of work, safety equipment or training. High culpability and likelihood of harm found. A major issue arose as to the defendant’s financial disclosure, resulting in Financial Circumstances Orders and the instruction of a forensic accountant. This resulted in the defendant accepting its turnover was substantially in excess of the figures shown in its post-accident accounts and the Judge ignoring the latest accounts (showing a turnover of GBP 21,000). Sentenced on the basis of a turnover of GBP 212,000. Fine starting point of GBP 240,000, reduced to GBP GBP 160,000 for mitigation and further reduced to GBP 100,000 (on the basis of proportionality/means) plus costs.
Defence to a Environment Agency Prosecution of two partners in a farm business – Hereford Magistrates Court
November 2017
An employee of the farm omitted to close a valve on the irrigation system, which resulted in 100’s of tonnes of digestate (fertilizer) being accidentally discharged onto a field and then into the River Leadon. The fertilizer affected 19 kilometers of the river and was estimated to have killer over 15,000 fish. Guilty plea on the basis that the discharge was ‘negligent’. The partners were fined GBP 5,500 each, plus costs.
Defence to a HSE Prosecution of a director (in his personal capacity for consent/neglect, section 37 HSWA) – Shrewsbury Crown Court
October 2017
The defendant was a builder contracted by a farmer to build a barn. The barn was located under high voltage power cables. The defendant’s cousin was working with him on the roof of the barn. He walked into the power cable and was killed. The farmer was also prosecuted (under the CDM Regulations) as the designer of the barn. Guilty pleas entered to section 3(1) offences relating to the risk of the power cables and work at height (no edge protection etc). Sentenced on the basis of high culpability. Sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment suspended for 2 years, plus 200 hours’ unpaid work.
HSE Prosecution of Anixter Limited, Birmingham Crown Court, HHJ Henderson
October 2017
Guilty plea (indicated a few days prior to the trial) to a section 2(1) HSWA offence, where an employee sustained serious injuries (intensive care for 5 days) when he was crushed by a 1.5 tonne drum of steel cable as he attempted single handed to roll it down a ramp from the scales of a coil machine. He lost control of the drum and it rolled over him. The defendant accepted its system of work was unsafe. The Judge found that the harm risked of level ‘A’ (death or very serious injury), culpability and likelihood of harm risked were both found to be between medium and low. Sentence imposed was a fine of GBP 170,000 (15% credit for plea allowed) plus costs.
HSE Prosecution of Landowner Limited, Birmingham Crown Court, HHJ Laird QC
September 2017
2-week trial, defendant pleaded guilty to a section 3(1) HSWA offence at the close of prosecution case after a submission of no case to answer failed. Defendant was developing a former industrial building into houses and offices. Fatal accident, when a painter fell from unsafe scaffolding. The defendant failed in its duty as the managing contractor to manage the site and scaffolding safely and the Judge found there was an element of cost cutting. Defendant was a micro company. Fine of GBP 40,000 plus costs.
HSE Prosecution of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust – Lincoln Crown Court, HHJ Heath
July 2017
3-week trial, defence represented by a QC and junior. 1 million fine imposed. The Trust was convicted of an offence contrary to section 3(1) HSWA arising from a fatal accident involving a patient. Physiotherapy staff were working with the patient using an Arjo Encore Standing Aid Hoist to increase his mobility. Staff incorrectly used the machine, by removing the knee pad leaving a vertical metal post in place. The patient collapsed and fell onto the exposed metal post. The post penetrated his rectum, causing catastrophic internal injuries resulting in his death later that day. HHJ Heath found that the unsafe system was widespread and longstanding and the danger created by leaving the vertical post exposed was and should have been obvious. HHJ Heath found that the Trust’s culpability for the unsafe system was high. HHJ Heath found that the starting point for the financial penalty was 2.4million. However, given that a fine would affect its ability to perform its services to the public he reduced the fine to 1million, plus costs. Defence to a HSE Prosecution of a partnership that owned a farm – Stafford Crown Court – March 2017, a 64 year old farm manager was killed when he fell through a fragile roof of a barn he was in the process of dismantling. Guilty pleas by the partnership and case committed to the Crown Court for sentence. The prosecution contended for very high culpability. HHJ Chambers found culpability as high, with medium likelihood of harm and after making an allowance for positive mitigation imposed a fine of GBP 60,000 plus costs.
HSE Prosecution of Northumbria University – Newcastle Crown Court, HHJ Bindloss
January 2017
Two second year Applied Sport Science students at the University volunteered during a class to take part in a practical exercise designed to measure the effects of caffeine on the body during exercise. The two students should have been given of 0.30grams and 0.32grams of caffeine respectively. However, due to errors in calculating the dose of caffeine made by the laboratory technicians, the two students were erroneously given some 30.7grams and 32grams of caffeine respectively. This was 100 times the correct dosage and almost double a potentially fatal dose. The two students suffered violent side effects within minutes of drinking the solution and required hospital treatment, including spending a number of days in intensive care and suffered life-threatening reactions. Guilty plea to a section 3(1) HSWA offence. HHJ Bindloss found the University was highly culpable, with a medium likelihood of level ‘A’ harm occurring, as a result of it not having in place any risk assessment for the caffeine exercise, failing to have a system to check the dose and failing to adequately train its staff. A fine in the sum of GBP 400,000 (plus costs) was imposed.
HSE Prosecution of Waltopia (a Bulgarian company)
December 2016
The company pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined GBP 500,000 by the District Judge. The company appealed to the Crown Court. The appeal was rejected. The offence concerned unsafe work at height practices by employees whilst erecting an outdoor climbing facility. Employees were seen being lifted on a pallet on the forks of a telehandler. A member of the public reported the unsafe practice to the company. However, despite the warning the unsafe practice was repeated. A HSE Inspector subsequently attended and witnessed a number of employees working at height on a roof without any safety measures and climbing from the basket of a cherry picker onto the roof. The Court found the company to be highly culpable, with a high likelihood of level ‘A’ harm occurring.
HSE Prosecution of an alcohol and chemical distribution company - Wolverhampton Crown Court, HHJ Burbidge QC
August 2016
Explosion and significant fire, when static electricity ignited vapour from ethyl acetate that was being filled into an IBC via a mobile dispensing unit. An employee received burn injuries. The fire spread rapidly, destroying the three-story warehouse and causing damage to cars and houses outside the defendant’s premises. The fire burnt for 18 hours before being extinguished by the Fire Service. The defendant pleaded guilty to section 2(1) and 3(1) HSWA offences and was fined GBP 270,000, plus costs. Culpability was assessed as medium harm category 1, with high likelihood of harm and seriousness of harm as ‘A’. Failings included failing to ensure employees earthed the IBC in order to guard against the risk of static electricity igniting the vapour from the chemical, filling the IBC in an non-contained area and running a flexible hose through an open fire door in the Warehouse, which caused the rapid spread of the fire into the Warehouse containing a large quantity of chemicals.
HSE Prosecution of a roofing company (the principal contractor) and a crane lifting company - Northampton Crown Court, HHJ Mayo
June 2016
Fatal fall through a skylight on a fragile roof. Both defendants pleaded guilty on the first day of the trial. The deceased worked for the crane company and was engaged in lifting roof sheets onto the fragile roof, without any safety equipment, such as roof boards. The crane company pleaded to a section 2(1) offence and was fined GBP 83,300 plus costs and the principal contractor pleaded guilty to a section 3(1) offence and was fined GBP 104,250 plus costs. The principal contractor failed to inform the crane company of the lack of safety measures on the roof and the crane company failed to perform an adequate survey of the fragile roof.
HSE Prosecution of a transport company – Derby Crown Court
May 2016
Fatal crushing incident when an employee was crushed as he refueled his lorry by another employee reversing a tipper lorry. Judge found high culpability and high likelihood of harm. The defendant entered a guilty plea to a section 2(1) HSWA offence. The Judge rejected the defence argument that the 2016 Definitive Guideline should not apply to the case – based on the delay in the prosecution, which was caused by the Coroner’s delay holding the Inquest. Fine GBP 300,000, plus costs of GBP 50,000 (including the HSE’s Inquest costs). The defendant’s application for permission to appeal (opposed by the prosecution) was refused by the single Judge and then abandoned by the defendant shortly before the oral permission hearing.
Defence to a HSE Prosecution of a director and a Dairy Farm Company – Stafford Crown Court
January 2015
A 75 year old farm worker was killed by a Bull at a farm. The system of work permitted employees to work within the enclosure with the Bull. The Bull attacked the employee, causing injuries from which he later died. The Company and director (section 37 prosecution) entered guilty pleas to section 2(1) HSWA and regulation 3(1) risk assessment offences. HHJ Eades observed that the defendants fell far below a safe standard and that it was dangerous for employees to work in proximity to a Bull. HHJ Eades remarked that this case resulting in a fatality passes the custody threshold. The Company (1.6 million turnover) was fined GBP 140,000, plus GBP 20,000 costs and the director was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment suspended for 12 months, plus GBP 10,000 costs.
HSE Prosecution of a Care Home Company (a charity owning 15 Care Homes)
November 2014
Fatal accident, when a 92 year old lady fell 7 metres from her first floor bedroom window, sustaining fatal injuries. All windows in the Care Home were fitted with a restrictor. However, the restrictor could be disengaged by pressing a spring as opposed to it being a fixed/lockable restrictor. The deceased disengaged the restrictor and accidentally fell from the fully open window. The defendant entered a guilty plea to a section 3(1) HSWA offence but argued the breach was non-causative. The basis of plea was not accepted and a 3 day trial of the issue was held. The Judge rejected the defence basis of plea and found that the breach was causative of the death and that the defendant had failed to act on a warning from its Manger as to the danger posed by the overridable restrictors. Fine GBP 96,000 (GBP 120,000 less 20% credit for the plea) plus costs of GBP 100,000.
City Council Prosecution of a shop owner – Nottingham Crown Court
November 2014
Propane gas explosion case. The defendant Internet café owner used propane gas bottles and gas burners in the unventilated cellar of the shop. He arranged for an unpaid helper to cook food in the cellar using the gas burners. As a result of a build up of gas in the cellar there was an explosion when she attempted to light the burner causing her extensive burns to 45% of her body, resulting in permanent life changing scarring. The building also suffered extensive structural damage. The defendant pleaded guilty to a section 4(2) HSWA offence of failing to ensure cooking equipment used in the premises was safe. He had ignored a warning from a neighbour not to use the gas burners in the cellar and he ignored warnings on the LPG bottles and the gas burners that they should only be used outdoors. The defendant was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, plus 240 hours community punishment.
HSE Inquest – Boston Coroners’ Court
October 2014 (4 Days)
Arising from the death of a patient at Pilgrim Hospital whilst using an Encore standing aid hoist. Physiotherapy staff had removed a knee support from the device in an incorrect way, leaving a vertical post exposed (whereas the complete mechanism should have been removed). The patient collapsed and was impaled on the post by the rectum, resulting in his death. The Jury found that the death was as a result of a tragic accident that occurred as a result of the misuse of the Encore hoist, through a lack of adequate formal training.
Defence to HSE prosecution of IBC Vehicles Limited
June 2014
Luton Crown Court. A crane operator was seriously injured whilst operating an overhead crane. The control box was defective, resulting in the operator accidently operating the crane and pulling a 14 tonne die onto him causing crush injuries. Guilty pleas to section 5 PUWER and regulation 8 of LOLER 1998 (failing to plan and supervise a lifting activity). The Defendant was a very substantial/profitable company. Fine kept to GBP 155,000 plus costs. HSE Prosecution of a West Midlands Travel Limited – Wolverhampton Crown Court – June 2014, a bus engineer was killed when he was attempting to push a bus in the bus depot. Guilty pleas to section 2 HSWA and regulation 3 risk assessment offences. Basis of the case was the lack of adequate supervision and risk assessment. Fine of GBP 150,000 plus costs.
HSE Prosecution of a landlord – Derby Crown Court and Court of Appeal
November 2013
Fatal gas case. The defendant landlord failed to have the gas boiler at her rental property inspected or serviced over a 4 year period. She pleaded to offences contrary to regulation 36(2) and 36(3)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 arising from her failure to have an annual gas safety check and to have the appliances, including the gas boiler maintained. As a result of the lack of maintenance the boiler emitted fatal levels of carbon monoxide, killing one of the tenants and resulting in hospital treatment for the other tenant and a neighbor (in the adjoining terraced house). The defendant was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, plus 200 hours community punishment, plus a fine of GBP 4,000 and costs of GBP 17,500. The sentence of imprisonment was suspended due to the defendant’s personal circumstances, including her previous exemplary character, medical issues and the impact on her medical career. The defendant’s appeal against sentence in relation to the financial penalties and suspended sentence was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
HSE Inquest – Boston Coroners’ Court
August 2013
Arising from a fall from a window at Pilgrim Hospital. Legal argument in relation to whether the Inquest should be adjourned until after the HSE prosecution of the NHS Trust, arising from the failure to maintain the window restrictors. HM Coroner rejected the NHS Trust’s argument that the Inquest should be adjourned until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.
The HSE Prosecution of a principal contractor and a scaffolding company - Worcester Crown Court
July 2013
Fatal accident, but the prosecution were not able to prove that the fatality was caused by the defective scaffolding. A contractor fell from scaffolding that had not been regularly inspected or adequately maintained by the scaffolding company. Further, the principal contractor (who was the client and elected to also be the principal contractor) failed to monitor the activities of the scaffolding company and failed to detect that it had not been inspecting and maintaining the scaffolding as it should have been. The scaffolding company pleaded guilty to a section 3 HSWA offence and a Work at Height Regulations offence and was fined GBP 50,000 (plus GBP 18,000 costs). The principal contractor had a trial lasting 6 days. The central issue in the trial was the scope of a principal contractor’s duty to mange sub-contractors on its construction site. The principal contractor was convicted of a section 3 offence and fined GBP 85,000 plus GBP 50,000 costs.
High Court Judicial Review proceedings following a prosecution by a District Council of a hotel and its owner for food hygiene offences
July 2013
The defendants sought to challenge the Crown Court sentence in relation to the level of the fines and costs by way of Judicial Review. I acted for the local authority in settling the defence to the Judicial Review application. The High Court dismissed the application and awarded the District Council its costs of GBP 4,500.
HSE Prosecution of a NHS Hospital Trust – Wolverhampton Crown Court
October 2012
Fatal accident, when an elderly patient fell from a first floor upper sash window, sustaining fatal injuries. The Trust entered a guilty plea to a risk assessment offence but argued the breach was non-causative. The basis of plea was not accepted and a 2 day trial of the issue was held, with prosecution and defence expert evidence called on the issue. The Judge found in favour of the prosecution case, that the breach was causative of the death. Fine GBP 80,000 plus costs of GBP 26,000. Defence (to HSE Prosecution) – Derby Crown Court – June 2012, prosecution of a director under section 37 HSWA, relating to his neglect in permitting employees to be lifted on an unsafe lifting platform. Two employees fell from the platform, sustaining serious injuries. The Judge accepted the defence non-causative basis of plea. Guilty plea; fine of GBP 5,000 plus GBP 8,000 costs. The offence carried a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment.
HSE Prosecution – Worcester Crown Court; 6 day trial
March 2012
Prosecution of national Demolition Company and firm of Architect’s acting as planning supervisors, arising from failures to identify that a high voltage electricity cable was still live on a demolition site. Serious injury caused to a demolition worker, when he attempted to cut the 11,000 volt live cable. Architect’s pleaded guilty to section 3 offence (fined GBP 20,000, plus GBP 20,000 costs). Demolition company, represented by a QC and junior were convicted (after a 6 day trial) of a section 2 offence and fined GBP 40,000 plus GBP 100,000 costs.
HSE Prosecution – Court of Appeal and Lincoln Crown Court
November 2011
Gas work offence by a company (that became insolvent) and its director personally. The director was personally fined GBP 2,000 plus costs of GBP 41,000 (due to his unreasonable conduct and failure to comply with the Financial Circumstances Order requiring him to supply financial information to the Court). The director appealed. The Court of Appeal upheld his appeal and reduced the costs order to GBP 25,000. However, importantly the Court of Appeal accepted the principle that the test for proportionality of costs compared to a fine in regulatory cases is different to general criminal cases, due to the high cost of prosecuting regulatory cases and that the costs order is part of the overall punishment.
HSE Prosecution – Leamington Crown Court
October 2011
Fatal accident, when an employee at a cement factory died as a result of an explosion at its dust processing plant. The explosion blew him through the building, causing him to fall over 30 feet. The case was scientifically complex in relation to the cause of the explosion, resulting in a significant amount of scientific evidence. The defendant company pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to regulation section 2(1) HSWA. Fined GBP 200,000 plus costs of GBP 172,000.
HSE Prosecution – Leicester Crown Court
October 2011
Fatal accident, when an employee was crushed by a 1.5 tonne steel structure that fell on him as he attempted to remove the lifting chains and slings. The defendant failed to plan and supervise the complex lifting operation and failed to assess the competency of the employee to perform the lifting operation. The defendant company pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to regulation section 2(1) HSWA. Fined GBP 180,000 plus costs of GBP 47,500.
Defence – Local Authority Prosecution – Gloucester Crown Court
October 2011
Fatal accident, when a foreign worker was electrocuted when he came into contact with an overhead power cable as he dismantled a marquee. Appeared for the Company that organised the event and its managing director (section 37 prosecution). Two other companies and another individual were also prosecuted. The Company entered a guilty plea to a section 3(1) HSWA offence. The case was discontinued against the director. The plea was entered on a non-causative basis and a fine of GBP 11,000 plus a contribution to the prosecution costs.
Inquest – HSE; Nottingham Coroner’s Court
June 2011
8 day Inquest, acted for the HSE in relation to the death of a patient during an incident when he was restrained by Police Officers in Hospital. The patient became volatile and confused and locked himself in a shower room. Police Officers used force to extract him for the shower room, which ended in the patient’s death.
Defence – HSE Prosecution – Liverpool Crown Court
April 2011
Fatal accident, when a mobile crane overturned crushing a steel worker. Appeared for the crane operator (two companies also prosecuted), who was charged with a section 7 HSWA offence of failing to take reasonable care for the safety of other workers. Guilty plea entered. Fined GBP 3,000 plus costs of GBP 1,000.