1st December, 2008

Porter

Court of Appeal decision on the risk to be proved in a prosecution under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The Court of Appeal set aside the conviction of the headmaster of a private school in North Wales. He had been charged under Section 3 following the death of a young pupil who, whilst unsupervised at play time, had fallen on a set of external steps and sustained a bad injury which resulted in his death. The headmaster was convicted following a trial in the Crown Court.

The Court of Appeal decided that the risk which must be proved in such a Prosecution is a risk to health and safety which was real rather than hypothetical or fanciful. In the particular circumstances of this case, the Judge should have decided, at the conclusion of all the evidence (and not at the end of the Prosecution case) that the situation had not been such as to give rise to a risk of the type that Section 3 prohibits. The conviction was quashed. The Prosecution was refused permission to appeal to the House of Lords.
Tim Horlock QC appeared on behalf of the Prosecution/Respondent but had not appeared in the Crown Court trial.

(This case was considered by the House of Lords in R v Chargot and Others.)



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