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Legal Q&A: should you close your pub after a rat infestation?

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Damage limitation: legal advice on potential rat infestations
Damage limitation: legal advice on potential rat infestations

Related tags: Environmental health officer

If the local environmental health officer (EHO) finds evidence of a rat infestation in a pub kitchen, should the publican close the pub at the EHO's request? Poppleston Allen explains the legal position.

Question:

After a complaint over the sighting of a rat, my local EHO has inspected my kitchen and said he has found evidence of a rat infestation. Now the EHO has asked me to close the kitchen. What should I do?

Answer:

Damage limitation is key here and, assuming there is evidence of rats, it would be wise to comply with the request for the kitchen to be closed temporarily to investigate and deal with the issue, rather than have the EHO obtain a court order. 

I would suggest that you contact a local pest controller, as a matter of urgency, to deal with the problem. The pest controller should be able to conduct a deep-clean and also provide advice on how to stop a rat infestation happening again in the future.

The EHO may be happy for you to simply reopen when they are satisfied that the problem has been dealt with adequately, however, it may be that you are subsequently asked to attend an interview under caution to establish how the problem arose in the first place. 

There is a risk of prosecution and you should therefore obtain legal advice.

And there is also a risk that any negative publicity from any prosecution could severely damage your business. 

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