Food Safety Law
Our health and safety solicitors have extensive experience in representing clients in the Hospitality Sector and all aspects of food hygiene law.
Whether your business is a food manufacturer or seller, from a small artisan food maker or neighbourhood café to a national retailer or hotel chain you are subject to food safety and food hygiene legislation.
Our food safety law solicitors can assist in ensuring that you have knowledge and understanding of the regulations and your obligations and provide bespoke training to your staff if required. We can advise you about food hygiene law and compliance with applicable regulations and how to respond to improvement notices and appeal against them.
Prosecutions for food hygiene law offences are common and generally involve allegations concerning the cleanliness of food preparation areas and infestations. The Courts treat these offences very seriously and are required to consider detailed Food Hygiene Sentencing Guidelines before passing sentence. The Courts are able to impose large financial penalties on Companies and Directors and also send culpable individuals to prison in appropriate cases.
However, if our regulatory solicitors are instructed at an early stage in an investigation we may be able to negotiate with the Local Authority to enable you to avoid a prosecution by improving the premises, improving food handling and staff training systems and having regular inspections.
We can advise and assist in interviews under caution and if you are prosecuted we can represent you throughout the proceedings and ensure that a robust defence or full and detailed mitigation is put forward.
Recent examples of work undertaken include the following:
- Achieving a fine considerably lower than the level stated in the Sentencing Guidelines where a restaurant owner had pleaded guilty to a number of food hygiene breaches and had carried out some refurbishment and implemented new food handling policies since the offences;
- Persuaded Border Force to restore a lorry and cargo of wine to a wine bar owner/ wine importer client where the ABV was wrongly described on the documentation. By obtaining witness statements from the producers as to their error the client was able to avoid the considerable expense of condemnation proceedings;
- Negotiated with the Office for Nuclear Regulation to achieve the surrender without penalty and destruction of radio-active Balti bowls inadvertently imported from China by a restaurant owner;
- Advised the directors a company which owned of a chain of restaurants regarding VAT and PAYE tax irregularities. Represented the directors in interviews under caution which resulted in no further action in respect of the criminal investigation and the underpayments being dealt with by negotiation under the civil provisions;
- Represented a company which owned a bar/club and its director in a prosecution for fly-tipping where it had engaged a contractor to carry out refurbishment work. Negotiated reduced charges and the clients’ fines were considerably reduced due to the mitigation;
- Successfully appealing against a noise abatement notice for a nightclub owner in the Crown Court with the award of substantial costs to the client against the Local Authority.
- Negotiating with Trading Standards regarding misleading descriptions of dishes on the menu of a restaurant and avoiding any further action against the client;
- Represented the owner of a Marquee Hire Company in an investigation by the HSE following an accident at a function when guests were injured.
If you require legal advice, please speak to one of our specialist food safety regulatory law solicitors and we would be happy to advise you.