European Union: frESH Law Horizons - September 2019

Proceeds of Crime Statistics

The Home Office has published the Asset Recovery Statistical Bulletin, which includes data on amounts collected from confiscation orders and cash forfeitures and compensation to victims from confiscation orders, as part of a "snapshot" of assets recovered using Proceeds of Crime Act powers, as amended by the Criminal Finances Act 2017. The data shows that in 2018/19, just under £217 million of "proceeds of crime" were collected, which represents a 21% increase compared with 2013/14. Proceeds of crime powers are used by some authorities regularly in relation to corporate and regulatory offences, such as prosecutions for breaches of environmental or product safety law.

Director Fined and Given Suspended Sentence After Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Investigation

The case involved a worker being impaled on a spike using a crane, which had "severe defects", including a disabled safety system and part of the safety guard had been cut off. The HSE report confirms that the director of the company was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service. The case is a reminder that custodial sentences can be imposed on company officers in appropriate cases.

Allergen Labelling Laws for Foods Prepacked for Direct Sale – New Legislation

New legislation implementing the announcement of the government to introduce full ingredient labelling for foods that are "prepacked for direct sale" was put before Parliament on 5 September and will become law on 1 October 2021, as reported by DEFRA. Foods which are "prepacked for direct sale" are those which are prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are sold, so this will be a relatively narrow category of foods (guidance is due to be published by the Food Standards Agency [FSA] on what this will cover on 1 October 2019). However, it is possible that there may be changes to the way allergen information is provided for other types of "non-prepacked" foods in the future, as views on other foods were also sought as part of the consultation. We published an article on the consultation in January. The FSA has also announced this month a number of actions it intends to take to protect people with allergies and intolerances, including implementation of a "pilot project to develop better reporting of allergic reactions", and an update of the "Safer Food Better Business" guide, to include a review of on the allergens information within that guide.

Fine of £7.8 Million for Breach of Money Laundering Regulations

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced the "record fine" against a business that reportedly ignored anti-money laundering regulations. This month, HMRC also published a list of businesses that are not complying with obligations, including compliance and registration penalties issued and details of persons who have received a Prohibition on Management. The fine and the publication of the list both demonstrate that HMRC will take non-compliance seriously.

Delivery Vehicles – Preliminary Hearings for Bridge Strikes

Traffic Commissioners are focusing attention on reports of goods vehicles colliding with bridges, following concerns being raised by Network Rail as to the frequency of bridge strikes nationally and the financial and potential safety implications, including due to train cancellations and delays. Commissioners are keen to ensure that companies are taking responsibility for route planning for drivers, including the avoidance of hazards such as low bridges, as well as matters such as appropriate training and maintenance of vehicles. Any bridge strikes could result in a hearing before the Commissioner, possibly leading to a public inquiry. Therefore, transport managers should be reminded of the importance of training/driver briefings on height checks, signage awareness and other relevant safeguards and critically review what is provided to drivers for route planning purposes. This is one of the issues that will be addressed at the FTA Transport Manager 2019 event in the autumn.

Port Operator Fined £300,000 After Worker Injured During Loading Operations

A Liverpool port operating company was sentenced by Liverpool Magistrates Court after a worker was struck by a load falling from two forklift trucks. The HSE press release indicates that no suitable risk assessment relating to the hazards arising from loading bundles of rebar onto reversing flatbed trailers had been carried out, and the fork lift truck lifting operation was also not properly planned, supervised or carried out in a safe manner. The company pleaded guilty to breach of s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Government Consultation on Proposed Mandatory Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Buildings of 18 Metres

Industry news reports refer to this requirement affecting all buildings six storeys and higher (whereas, the current requirement relates to buildings approximately 10 storeys and higher). The consultation closes on 28 November 2019, and seeks views on proposals to improve wayfinding signage within blocks of flats, and to install evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services.

A two-year investigation into the destruction of a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in Yorkshire, which resulted in a £600 fine, has apparently cost Natural England £61,000, but it was only able to claim back £300 in costs, according to the ENDS Report. A farmer was fined for building a track through an SSSI under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. Whilst Natural England issued information about the prosecution, it did not state the amount of money involved in the prosecution. However, ENDS has apparently seen an internal DEFRA memo showing that Natural England spent £61,000 in bringing the case to the courts; meaning it recovered less than 0.5% of its expenses.

ClientEarth has warned 105 local councils that they could face legal action if they fail to meet duties to include emissions reductions targets and policies in their local plans, in order to contribute to the achievement of the net zero carbon target in the Climate Change Act 2008. The councils in question are currently developing their new local plans, and ClientEarth has given them eight weeks to respond to their letter.

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) Is Developing a Standard for Radiative Forcing

Existing climate-related standards, like ISO 14064 focus on greenhouse gases, but this new draft standard, which will become ISO 14082, is based on radiative forcing (the difference between radiation absorbed from the sun and that radiated back into space). This standard will look at the climate footprint of so-called climate forcers, such as black carbon and other particulates, which have an impact on radiative forcing and, therefore, climate change impacts. When finalised, the standard will provide principles and guidance for quantifying radiative forcing footprints, helping to identify actions to manage and reduce radiative forcing.

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