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Need to know: protecting your business from potential prosecution

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licensing

Whether you are looking to take over an existing premises or starting from scratch, it is not always clear which regulations apply to your business and how you achieve compliance with them.

Getting it wrong could cost your business a lot of money in the long run, so starting off on the right foot is key to avoiding potential enforcement and high court fines.

If you take over an existing premises, you should review everything that is there to assess whether the information is up to date and what additional things need to be implemented. It may be that the previous owners had a robust system in place that can be adopted and continued. On the other hand, it could be that you need to start from the beginning.

The risks of the business need to be assessed in relation to health and safety, and also fire safety. It is only once these risks have been assessed that you can decide what mitigation measures can be used to keep staff and customers safe. This will form part of a formal risk assessment, which should be site-specific.

The legislation requires all businesses with five or more staff to have these formally recorded in writing. It is good practice to keep copies of these at the premises so that staff can refer to them when required. The person who carries out the risk assessment can be a trained staff member or a third-party consultancy.

All staff should be given the relevant training in relation to the risk assessments and policies. The only way in which a business can remain compliant is with the full engagement from staff members, this should be seen from the top down. An attitude of compliance should be aimed for within any business, as this demonstrates to any enforcement agency that the business is taking its responsibilities seriously.

Staff training should be regular and records should be kept on site of this. Whether this is in-house training or training from an external provider, it should be recorded and managed. Refresher training should be given regularly, demonstrating the ongoing compliance of the business. There is no point in having glossy policies and robust risk assessments if the staff members on the ground don’t know they exist and don’t implement them.

As a provider of food, you are required to register with the local authority as a food business operator – look out in March 2019 for a new online registration service. This registration should be carried out at least 28 days before you operate.

If your business fails to carry out its obligations, it could result in the commission of criminal offences. These offences could result in large financial penalties and significant adverse publicity to the business, both of which can be avoided with the investment of time and energy from the outset. Being proactive rather than reactive is the best way to minimise this risk.

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

Related topics: Licensing law, Licensing Hub

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