Leader In Health And Safety Law
Michael has over 20 years' experience of defending directors, senior individuals and companies facing investigation or prosecution for health and safety offences or manslaughter arising from work related incidents.
This includes representing clients at inquests, in appeals against prohibition and improvement notices and challenging notifications under Health and Safety Executive’s Fee for Intervention scheme. He has also acted in investigations by the Environmental Agency and Fire and Rescue Authorities.
What the Legal Directories Say
In Chambers and Partners (2021) Michael is ranked as a star individual for Health and Safety. The directory says that Michael:
"has a distinguished background in the health and safety market. He produces high-quality work when advising clients on prosecutions and investigations by a broad range of regulatory bodies including ORR, HSE and police. He has extensive knowledge of the HSWA and corporate manslaughter cases."
The directory provides the following testimonials: :
"He is a very experienced practitioner. He has defended in some of the most serious health and safety cases over the last 20 years and he always takes an innovative and intelligent approach towards them." "His strength is his knowledge of the HSE, the legislation and the prosecution process. He impressed us greatly." "He is really great to work with and great on tactics for a case."
Legal 500 2021 ranks Michael as a leading individual stating that he:
is an exceptional lawyer with unparalleled knowledge in relation to Health & safety law. Not only does he have a full command of the regulations, but in particular an understanding of “risk”. He is a battle-hardened criminal practitioner and excellent tactician. Underestimate him at your peril.
HSE v Truscott Cambridge Crown Court 2017
Secured the acquittal of a director prosecuted pursuant to section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following an eight day trial. This case was covered in the December issue of Health + Safety at Work Magazine
OCS Group UK Limited v HSE Admin Court 2017
Represented OCS in its successful judicial review of the dispute process of HSE’s Fee for Intervention Scheme (FFI) which led to HSE agreeing to introduce a revised dispute process. HSE also agreed to withdraw a notification of contravention relating to hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and the related invoices. This case was the cover story of the May 2017 edition of the magazine Health + Safety at Work Magazine
HSE v London Container Terminal (Tilbury) Limited and Delphini Limited Basildon Crown Court 2016
Represented London Container Terminal which was acquitted of an alleged breach of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The case related to guarding in the machinery house of a container crane where an engineer (employed by Delphini) was carrying out a rope inspection and caught his leg in the end of a moving winch drum. Delphini pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
R v King and others Ipswich Crown Court 2015
Represented the operations director of the principal contractor prosecuted for breaching section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974 following a fatal electrocution at a data centre. The trial judge dismissed the charges following a submission of no case to answer at the conclusion of HSE’s case.
R v Austin and McLean Ltd and Esso Petroleum Ltd Winchester Crown Court 2013
Acted for Austin and McLean Ltd. The Company was contracted by Esso to undertake thorough examinations of lifting equipment at Fawley Marine Terminal. The prosecution related to a crane that collapsed killing a seaman in August 2008. Following Austin and McLean Ltd’s acquittal for corporate manslaughter the Company pleaded guilty to breaching s3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £60,000. Esso was fined £100,000 for a health and safety breach.
HSE v Castlekeep Ltd and Stanton Grove Ltd Basildon Crown Court 2012
Acted for Castlekeep Ltd in relation to a prosecution for breach of s2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 concerning an accident at the Port of Tilbury when one its employees was involved in an accident resulting in the loss of both his legs. The Company was acquitted of this charge.
Liftec Lifts Limited v Zameer Bhunnoo (HSE) Ashford Employment Tribunal 2011
Acted for the appellant in a successful appeal against a prohibition notice served following a fatality. If the notice had been upheld this would have had a significant impact upon the way maintenance is undertaken in the lift industry.
HSE v Dalkia Utilities Services PLC and Heineken PLC Reading Crown Court 2011
Acted for Dalkia in relation to a prosecution for breach of s2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 concerning the death of one of its employees at the Berkshire Brewery where the Company was contracted to Heineken to operate the Carbon Dioxide Recovery Plant. Dalkia was acquitted of the charge.
ORR v Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Limited Chelmsford Crown Court 2010
The railway renewal arm of Balfour Beatty was prosecuted for a breach of Regulation 14 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 following the electrocution of an employee. The Company was acquitted of the charge.
HSE v First Capital East Ltd Croydon Crown Court 2008
Acted for a major bus company which pleaded guilty to s2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in relation to the death of an employee maintenance engineer at one of its depots. Defeated the prosecution’s argument that there was financial motivation for the offending. The Company was fined £120,000.
R v P Ltd & G  ICR 96, CA
Represented the managing director G in one of the leading appellate cases upon directors’ health and safety duties. G was acquitted of charges of breaching s37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. A preliminary issue went before the Court of Appeal in respect of the interpretation of s37. Case related to the death of a child at a port.
ORR v Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services Ltd Winchester Crown Court 2007
The case concerned breaches of sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following the electrocution of a lookout during maintenance of a conductor rail while energized. Breaches were over a four year period. Successfully argued the death was not an aggravating feature. The prosecution did not proceed with the s3 charge. The Company was fined £180,000 for the breach of s2.
R v Network Rail, Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services Ltd and others Old Bailey 2005 and
R v Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services Ltd  1 Cr App R (S) 65  Bus LR 77
Prosecution related to the Hatfield train derailment of 2000. With Mark Scoggins acted for the railway maintenance arm of Balfour Beatty. The Company pleaded guilty to a breach of s3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after being acquitted of corporate manslaughter following a six month contested trial. In the appeal against sentence the fine of £10m imposed by the trial judge was reduced to £7.5m.
Railway Industry Public Inquiries 1999/2000
The Southall Rail Accident Inquiry – Professor Uff (1999)
The Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry, Parts I and II – Lord Cullen (2000)
The Joint Inquiry into Train Protection Systems – Lord Cullen and Professor Uff (2000)
R v Great Western Trains and Harrison Old Bailey 1999
Acted for the train driver involved in the Southall train crash of 1997 where seven passengers died. He was acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter and a breach of s7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
R v Afford Luton Crown Court 1998
Acted for the train driver involved in the Watford train crash of 1996 where one passenger died. He was prosecuted on a single count of gross negligence manslaughter and acquitted.
Michael frequently writes and lectures on health and safety issues. For over 10 years he wrote a regular column for health and safety magazine SHP. He is joint author with his colleagues Charlotte Waters and Dr Louise Smail of HSE and Environment Agency Prosecution: The New Climate (Bloomsbury Professional 2019) and the author of the Transport chapter of Corporate Liability: Work Related Deaths and Criminal Prosecutions (Bloomsbury Professional, 3rd edition 2014).
Michael lecturers on IET's Electrical Safety Management course and at City University of London on the MSc Temporary Works and Construction Method Engineering . Michael also provides in-house training to organisations.