Legal advice: How record keeping can pay off

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Paperwork: It may seem arduous but can save you from trouble down the line
Paperwork: It may seem arduous but can save you from trouble down the line

Related tags: Environmental health officer, Occupational safety and health, Assault

Our legal experts look at how being properly on top of paperwork and training can avoid a potentially sticky situation.

I have dealt with a couple of cases recently that have served as a poignant reminder of how many avenues of attack are available to the various enforcing bodies in the wake of one single, unfortunate incident.

Imagine the following scenario:

Your door staff are doing their job and one of them suspects that a customer is using drugs in the toilet. A confrontation ensues, the customer attempts to run off and in the process loses his footing at the top of the stairs, falls down the stairs, hits his head and fails to recover from his injuries.

Before you know it you could have the police investigating the issues of drugs and potential assault, a combination of both police and the licensing authority looking at, and perhaps discovering inadequacies in, your CCTV system and also environmental health, from a health and safety perspective, examining the staircase for any contributory factors to the fall.

All of this could be quite overwhelming both in terms of the management time involved in attending meetings, giving statements and potentially attending interviews under caution, and also expensive in terms of having the necessary legal advice to back up all of these aspects.

'Training' and 'record keeping' have long been watch words of licensing, and scenarios such as this are where they really bear fruit.

When put on the back foot by an investigation such as this, you are immediately in a much stronger position if you are able to produce the necessary health and safety policies and training to show that customers are being properly looked after and cared for within your premises,

Equally, from a licensing perspective, if you can demonstrate that staff have had relevant training in conflict management and indeed in relation to drunkenness then that would be a good starting point should an investigator come calling.

When something does go wrong it is equally important to have the situation investigated fully with training, policies and procedure being at the forefront of any such investigation together with the identification of any appropriate remedial action and its immediate implementation.

The scenario in question could lead to prosecutions for health and safety offences as well as licensing breached, with fine levels for both now being unlimited in the magistrates' court and the crown court.

There would also be the potential for a review as an alternative or in parallel with such prosecutions. The police or the licensing authority could bring such a review and indeed environmental health officers could equally bring one on the grounds of public safety.

Related topics: Licensing law

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