Christopher Hopkins

Viewing: Environmental Law for Christopher Hopkins

Christopher is a specialist 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 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 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. 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.
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 include the following:
Criminal Regulatory Offences
Health and Safety
In August 2015, Christopher represented a leading 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.
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.
In 2018, Christopher represented a facilities management service provider after one of its contract surveyors had failed to identify all the asbestos present in a building during an asbestos refurbishment survey. Both the company and the surveyor were prosecuted with the company being fined GBP 8,400 following mitigation put forward by Christopher on its behalf.
In 2018, Christopher prosecuted an individual for gas safety offences on behalf of the HSE resulting in an immediate custodial sentence of 16 months. Christopher continues to provide regular training for new and specialist HSE Inspectors.
In 2019, Christopher defended a micro sized company being prosecuted after two employees had struck a live electric mains cable whilst excavating. Christopher agreed a reduction in the harm category with HSE resulting in a much reduced fine and costs for the company.
In January 2016, Christopher successfully defended a farmer at trial after it had been alleged by the Environment Agency 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 both a large food business and a micro waste business in separate prosecutions being prosecuted by a statutory water and sewerage undertaker for multiple breaches of Discharge Consents.
In 2018, Christopher acted for a very large developer being prosecuted for felling several trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The company pleaded guilty and was fined GBP 10,000 after the Court accepted Christopher’s submissions that the offences were of low culpability under the applicable sentencing guidelines for environmental offences.
Food Safety and Hygiene
Christopher has advised a wide range of food business operators over many years on hygiene compliance issues including abattoirs and cutting plants. During 2019, he has defended both a cutting plant and a bakery being separately prosecuted for food hygiene offences. Christopher also recently prosecuted a food business operator for a Local Authority resulting in a Hygiene Prohibition Order being imposed.
Coroner’s Inquests
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. In January 2019, Christopher acted for a Care Home at an Inquest following the death of one of its residents.
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.
Christopher has prosecuted and defended private landlords for criminal offences under the Housing Act 2004. He has advised on HMO licensing issues and represented Local Authorities in civil and criminal proceedings for breach of injunctions and applications for Closure Orders.
Christopher regularly appears for both drivers and Licensing Authorities in taxi licensing appeals both in the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts.
Christopher has acted for alcohol and entertainment licence holders and Licencing Authorities 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 both in the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts.
Appointed to List B of the List of Specialist Regulatory Advocates in Health and Safety and Environmental Law.
Health and Safety Lawyers Association
Council Member of Birmingham Health, Safety and Environment Association

Latest News & Publications

On the 8th of August 2020, the Local Government Association (“LGA”) called for a new temporary public health or COVID-19 licensing objective to be inserted into the Licensing Act (“LA”) 2003...

Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2020
Whilst most of the country was in lockdown at home during the Covid 19 pandemic, the Upper Tribunal was busy giving two key judgements on civil penalties for failures to comply with housing laws....

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 2020
It is vital that landlords, tenants and local authorities all understand when a property should properly be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation (“HMO”)....

Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2020