Experienced criminal defence solicitor who represents clients accused of food safety offences

Jim is a defence solicitor with over 27 years‘ experience of criminal litigation; if you work in the food industry, whether you’re a single-shop takeaway or an international manufacturer, Jim can provide advice and representation in relation to:

  • Investigations or prosecutions by Environmental Health or Trading Standards Services;
  • Improvement Notices, including appeals; and
  • Food Hygiene policies and procedures.

Jim has a detailed knowledge of the procedures followed in a prosecution by Environmental Health (including those brought under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, the Food Safety Act 1990 and Food Labelling Regulations 1996) and if you are facing an enforcement action or prosecution he can provide expert advice at every stage.  This includes:

  • Gathering evidence;
  • Attending an interview under caution;
  • Providing written statements;
  • Representing you at Court;
  • Protecting the future of your business following an investigation or prosecution by the regulator.

Relevant case law in relation to food safety

[2019] EWCA Crim 837
[2019] EWCA Crim 837
CA (Crim Div) (Sir Brian Leveson PQBD, Stuart-Smith J, Jeremy Baker J)
16 May 2019

The conviction of the owner of a food takeaway business for gross negligence manslaughter, following the death of a customer who suffered from a peanut allergy, was quashed as unsafe. When directing the jury, the judge had conflated the general duty owed by the owner to ensure that appropriate safety systems were in place to protect customers with declared allergies and the duties of those responsible for ensuring that appropriate steps had been taken.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1783
[2017] EWCA Crim 1783
CA (Crim Div) (Hickinbottom LJ, Openshaw J, Judge Topolski QC)
8 November 2017

A sentence of six years' imprisonment for gross negligence manslaughter was appropriate where a restaurant owner had persistently failed over several months to take steps to ensure that customers suffering from peanut allergies were not served with food containing peanuts. Even after one customer had suffered a violent allergic reaction, he did not improve his systems, with the consequence that another customer died after suffering an allergic reaction.

[2013] UKSC 59
[2013] UKSC 59
SC (Lady Hale (Deputy President), Lord Kerr JSC, Lord Wilson JSC, Lord Carnwath JSC, Lord Toulson JSC )
31 July 2013

Under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 reg.44(1)(d) it was sufficient for the prosecution to prove that a defendant had food in its possession for the purposes of sale which was the subject of a mark or label showing a "use by" date which had passed.

[2013] EWHC 2659 (Admin)
[2013] EWHC 2659 (Admin)
DC (Sir John Thomas (President), Hickinbottom J)
20 June 2013

Convictions for falsely describing or presenting food were quashed and remitted to the magistrates' court where each information was duplicitious, alleging offences under both the Food Safety Act 1990 s.15(2) and s.15(3). In obiter comments, the question of whether, in light of the need for a cards on the table approach, a failure to take a duplicity point at the appropriate time prevented it from being taken later was left open.

[2013] EWHC 898 (Admin)
[2013] EWHC 898 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Sir John Thomas (President QBD) , Simon J)
18 April 2013

A local authority had fully complied with its enforcement policy before deciding to prosecute a pub-owning company for a serious breach of the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006.

[2012] NICA 29
[2012] NICA 29
CA (Crim Div) (NI) (Higgins LJ, Coghlin LJ, Treacy J)
29 June 2012

Payments received by landowners for permitting waste to be deposited on their land were, in reality, payments for the provision of an ongoing facility to conceal the presence of the waste and had therefore been properly classed as benefit from criminal conduct where the landowners had been convicted of "keeping" controlled waste contrary to the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 art.4(1)(b) and art.4(1)(c). It was irrelevant that the payments pre-dated the coming into force of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

[2012] EWHC 1055 (Admin)
[2012] EWHC 1055 (Admin)
DC (Stanley Burnton LJ, Treacy J)
26 April 2012

A failure to comply with the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 s.52 by a person exercising a power of seizure conferred by s.50 of the Act did not necessarily render a seizure under s.50 unlawful; it was merely a matter to be taken into account on an application under s.59 of the Act or in judicial review proceedings.

[2012] EWHC 296 (Admin)
[2012] EWHC 296 (Admin)
DC (Aikens LJ, Maddison J)
20 February 2012

The court set out what the prosecution would have to prove to establish that an offence under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 reg.44(1)(d) of selling food after a "use by" date had been committed.

[2009] EWHC 2820 (Admin)
[2009] EWHC 2820 (Admin)
DC (Pill LJ, Rafferty J)
13 October 2009

It was not open to a magistrates' court to rely on a statement by a defendant acting in person made to the court's legal adviser, who was assisting the defendant to put his case in a procedure approved by the Criminal Procedure Rules 2005 Pt 37, as such statements were not evidence.

[2009] EWHC 1844 (Admin)
[2009] EWHC 1844 (Admin)
DC (Pill LJ, Cranston J)
10 June 2009

A magistrates' court had been wrong to find that a prosecution under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 s.34 was an abuse of process. Although the prosecuting local authority's waste management enforcement policy allowed for courses of action other than prosecution, it was for it to decide when to prosecute, and it was only when an abuse was plainly shown that a court should intervene.

[2008] EWHC 3295 (Admin)
[2008] EWHC 3295 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Charles J)
25 November 2008

A magistrates' court had no power at a preliminary stage of an appeal against an abatement notice to allow the amendment of the notice; however, it did have power under the Statutory Nuisance (Appeals) Regulations 1995 reg.2(5) when making a final order on an appeal to vary a notice so that it took effect as if it had originally been served on another person in substitution for the person named on it, or on another person in addition to the person named on it.

[2007] EWHC 433 (Admin)
[2007] EWHC 433 (Admin)
QBD (Maurice Kay LJ, Stanley Burnton J)
1 February 2007

On its true construction the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 Sch.1 para.3 created more than one offence and differentiated between the need to protect against the contamination of food and the need to have adequate procedures in place to ensure pests were controlled.

[2006] EWHC 1749 (Admin)
[2006] EWHC 1749 (Admin)
DC (Latham LJ, McCombe J)
14 June 2006

It was impermissible to amend out of time an information brought under the Food Safety Act 1990 s.8 so as to substitute one company for another as defendant.

[2004] EWHC 2890 (Admin)
[2004] EWHC 2890 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Forbes J)
4 November 2004

A due diligence defence under the Food Safety Act 1990 s.21 (1) could not be relied upon or established where responsibility for a default or omission had been found to lie with a person not included in the defence case. The Administrative Court had power under the Supreme Court Act 1981 s.28A(3)(b) to remedy the defect of a failure to serve a notice under s.21(5) of the 1990 Act by allowing an application to include a defaulting party in order to establish a defence of due diligence.

[2004] EWHC 597 (Admin)
[2004] EWHC 597 (Admin)
DC (Laws LJ, Eady J)
8 March 2004

The word "escape" in Environmental Protection Act 1990 s.34 was not apt to include the deliberate deposit of waste.

[2003] EWHC 2852 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 2852 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Goldring J)
27 November 2003

The appellant company, as a group holding company, was the "proprietor" of a food business within the meaning of s.53 Food Safety Act 1990 for the purposes of unchallenged breaches of reg.4(1) Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 in respect of a public house.

[2003] EWHC 2919 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 2919 (Admin)
DC (Newman J, McCombe J)
21 November 2003

In a prosecution under s.8(1) Food Safety Act 1990, the question to be asked in order to determine whether "discovery" of the offence had occurred under s.34 of the Act was whether the facts disclosed, objectively considered, would have led the prosecuting authority to have reasonable grounds to believe that the offence might have been committed by some person who had been identified to it.

[2003] EWHC 2698 (Admin)
[2003] EWHC 2698 (Admin)
DC (Kennedy LJ, Royce J)
28 October 2003

A Magistrates' Court had erred in holding that there was no case for the respondent to answer in respect of an alleged statutory nuisance and breach of an abatement notice in circumstances where there was clear evidence from environmental health officers that the nuisance had been committed.

[2003] EWCA Crim 697
[2003] EWCA Crim 697
CA (Crim Div) (Scott Baker LJ, Holland J)
17 March 2003

An offence under Reg.21 Product of Animal Origin (Import and Export) Regulations 1996 SI 1996/3124 did not require mens rea.

[2002] EWHC 396 (Admin)
[2002] EWHC 396 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Scott Baker J)
15 March 2002

The Secretary of State for Health had been entitled to refuse public access to two inquiries that he had instigated into serious malpractice and criminal conduct by doctors.

[2002] EWHC 473 (Admin)
[2002] EWHC 473 (Admin)
QBD (Admin) (Silber J)
8 March 2002

A local authority was entitled to issue summonses under the Food Safety Act 1990 in its own name rather than in the name of an individual.

QBD (Admin) (Jack Beatson QC)
13 December 2000

A decision of the Dental Practice Board to defer determination of claims for payment submitted by orthodontists suspected of fraud amounted to suspending them from practice in a manner which was inconsistent with the intention of the legislature. Where it was practicable to determine a claim there was a duty to do so and, in making a block decision in respect of all claims whatever their category and failing thereafter to reconsider and review that decision in light of any changes in circumstances, the Board had acted irrationally.

DC (Lord Bingham of Cornhill LCJ, Astill J)
5 April 2000

Where a prosecuting authority had been misled as to the identity of the proper defendant, delay in the laying of informations and/or the service of a summons did not constitute an abuse of process.

DC (Kennedy LJ, Butterfield J)
31 March 2000

A smoke nuisance under s.79(b) Environmental Protection Act 1990, could include the smell of smoke.

DC (Schiemann LJ, Astill J)
27 March 2000

Community law did not allow eggs to be sold in a box marked with a range of laying dates when the date was not marked on the eggs themselves, and accordingly the respondent had committed an offence under the Eggs (Marketing Standards) Regulations 1995.

HCJ (Lord Cullen LJC, Lord Cowie, Lord Weir)
16 March 2000

A company charged with the contamination of a public water supply would not be denied a fair trial when the jurors were drawn from the area affected by the contamination because the water supply was only interrupted for a short period and the usual practical steps to ensure the jury's impartiality could be taken.

CA (Crim Div) (Mantell LJ, Rougier J, Judge Francis Allen)
14 March 2000

Appeals against conviction for offences of: (i) selling food for human consumption that failed to comply with food safety requirements; and (ii) of storing food at a temperature below that which was legally required. As to (i), there was no substance in the appellants' claim that the judge should have dismissed the case as an abuse of process on the ground that they were unable to test the food sample for themselves and accordingly, that appeal failed. As to (ii), there was no direct evidence that the temperature of the food sample taken by environmental health officers was capable of causing a risk to the public and accordingly, that appeal succeeded.

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