Our client approached us as his business was about to be prosecuted by Birmingham City Council for offences contrary to Regulation 19 of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013.
It was alleged that SBL (“the Company”) had run a restaurant in the Arcadian complex, at the heart of Birmingham’s China Town, and that when Food Safety Officers attended those premises they would allege that our client had failed to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests in that:
- Mouse droppings were found throughout the kitchen
- Mouse droppings were found in the food preparation room
- Mouse droppings were found behind a bait box located under the shelving unit, in the bar area
- Mouse droppings were found in the food storage room
It was further alleged that our client had failed to ensure that the food premises were kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition in that:
- There was grease and debris on the floor and wall behind the deep fat fryer.
As a result of the inspection the Local Authority served our client with a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice and the business was formally closed. It should be noted that anybody who knowingly contravenes such a notice, and is guilty of an offence, can be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment for up to two years.
The Court Hearing
Unfortunately our client only contacted us after he had formally been interviewed under caution by Environment Health Officers. Our client went onto make full and frank admissions throughout interview.
Our client was subsequently summoned to appear before the Court facing two allegations.
Having appeared before the Court our client was left with little alternative but to plead guilty to the offences that he was charged with. Birmingham City Council opened the case for the prosecution, presented photographic exhibits to the Court in relation to the allegations faced and further made representations to the Court that the offences were a category 1 offence, with medium culpability where the starting point was a £10,000 fine for each offence.
How Did We Assist The Client?
We were able to take comprehensive instructions from our client in relation to how the premises had fallen foul of the Health and Safety Regulations. We detailed what improvements had been made subsequently in order that the premises were allowed to be re-opened within days of closing down. We outlined this extensive mitigation to the Court during the hearing.
Due to the mitigation that was put forward on behalf of our client, the Court ultimately fined the company £995 in relation to the first offence and made no separate penalty in relation to the second offence. This was a major departure from the £10,000 fine that the prosecution were inviting the Court to make. Clearly our client was overjoyed with the result.
Clearly it is important for any business facing this situation to seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage to ensure that the business faces the least amount of disruption and negative publicity.
This case was conducted by Sukhdip Randhawa at Kangs Solicitors who has approaching 20 years’ experience of defending in these type of prosecutions. If you have a similar issue and would appreciate some early expert and robust advice, please do not hesitate to contact Sukhdip Randhawa at Kangs Solicitors.