Expert advice on fighting corporate manslaughter in the construction sector

By Raspberry Jim,

 

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Corporate manslaughter has become a nationwide talking point once again ahead of the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

One year on from the devastating incident on June 14, 2017, an official inquiry is now underway to determine who was responsible for the harrowing events which claimed the lives of 72 people.

Following the fire last year many were quick to attribute blame to the local council and the tenant management organisation. The Metropolitan Police investigated both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which owned the tower, and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation which managed it, on suspicion of corporate manslaughter.

A BBC Panorama investigation claimed that the insulation used in renovations of the tower, from manufacturer Celotex, never actually passed required safety tests. But with the official inquiry into the incident still underway, culpability for the tragedy has yet to be established.

Recent media coverage has generated renewed discussion around corporate manslaughter in the construction industry.

With everyone from housing associations, to electricians involved, the duty of care in this sector is vast – and a failure to follow correct procedures could quickly prove fatal.

But when it comes to construction, when are companies culpable of corporate manslaughter? And what should they do if accused?

Here, director at leading defence firm Blackfords LLP Phillip Williams offers his advice on this divisive matter.

What is corporate manslaughter?

Corporate manslaughter is a criminal offence through which a company or corporation is found to be responsible for a person’s death.

The offence came into law in 2008 when the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into being.

Companies can be found guilty of this offence if their serious management failures led to a gross breach of duty of care.

If found guilty companies could face an unlimited fine of up to £20 million, depending on the severity of the offence, or the court could order them to overhaul their health and safety procedures.

When is a construction company accountable?

As part of the 2007 Act there are specific ways to determine if an incident falls under the offence of corporate manslaughter.

Following a fatality, the business’s internal processes which led up to the death will be examined, including any health and safety procedures, to determine if there were systematic failures which led to negligence.

In the construction industry, the implementation of health and safety procedures is even more vital due to the highly hazardous working conditions and proximity to heavy machinery. As such it is crucial that any safety measures are not just sent out to staff, but followed strictly.

Mr Williams said that in order for a company to be accused of corporate manslaughter, it must be proved that there was a gross breach of procedure, which left workers or members of the public at a significant risk.

“This breach must be major, and be identified as a significant departure from expected standards,” the legal expert added.

In 2015, Master Construction Products became the 26th company to be convicted of corporate manslaughter after a worker was crushed to death by a machine used to sort waste materials.

The company was fined £255,000 and a subsequent HSE investigation uncovered that there was no safe system of work outlined for the machinery.

A significant part of the failure must also have occurred at a senior level, among those with decision-making powers, Mr Williams added. He said: “Construction managers are under extreme pressure to ensure their firm follows procedure and adheres to regulations to prevent any serious incidents on-site.

“And while every care is undoubtedly taken, sometimes things can go wrong. Anyone with concerns that they may be liable under this Act should seek legal representation immediately.”

Not only should site managers safeguard the wellbeing of their workers, but they are also responsible for preventing injury to the public, Mr Williams said.

Monavon Construction Ltd became the first company to be sentenced under the Act, and received a fine of £550,000 after pleading guilty to two counts of corporate manslaughter, when two men suffered fatal injuries after falling into a well in 2013.

As we have witnessed through the official Grenfell Tower Inquiry, this public responsibility also extends to the safety of building materials used in a construction project. A BBC investigation has recently raised questions around whether Celotex had misled buyers about the safety of its product before the installation at Grenfell Tower.

Mr Williams said: “This underlines the importance of obtaining up to date records and documents relating to the safety testing of any product used in a construction build. As managers it is not just vital that you ensure your workers follow procedures, but that your third-party suppliers do too.”

What next if you’re facing a corporate manslaughter charge?

It is likely that an investigation will be undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)  to ascertain blame for the fatality and could also include a criminal prosecution for health and safety offences.

Mr Williams said: “Managers or companies accused of corporate manslaughter could easily become overwhelmed due to the scope of the investigation.

“Once the fatality occurs, there are likely to be investigations into company health and safety procedures, police visits to the site, and interviews with HSE among many other steps. It is imperative that you speak with a fully trained solicitor who is well versed in dealing with corporate manslaughter cases to guide you through this process.

“At Blackfords LLP we have extensive experience of defending clients in some of the most complex corporate manslaughter cases in the UK.”

Mr Williams advises that construction companies and managers could also receive publicity orders, requesting the business to provide details of previous convictions and fines. He said they could also receive a remedial act instructing them to overhaul procedures which resulted in the death.

How business leaders can spot McMafia-style warning signs

By Raspberry Jim,

Phil 5

How easy is it for legitimate businesses to succumb to the temptation of financial crime?

That is the focus of the BBC’s latest drama McMafia, which is shining a vital spotlight on the often- overlooked world of financial and business crime.

The drama explores the illegal dealings of main protagonist Alex Godman, who runs his own London-based investment fund, which he abuses to further his professional and personal ambitions.

But as viewers have seen throughout its five-week run, his increasingly questionable decisions have drawn him further into the maze of murky underworld activity, with Mr Godman now left in a precarious position.

The drama’s success has sparked debate around the wide-spread nature of financial crime, with many questioning whether the events depicted could actually take place in UK businesses.

The weekly show could also be leaving business leaders considering what action they are entitled to take if they spot suspicious behaviour, and how to eradicate illegal temptations before they develop into criminal activity.

Leading serious fraud expert Phil Williams, at Cardiff-based defence firm Blackfords LLP, said McMafia’s rapid descent into crime is not as far fetched as it may appear.

He said: “Obviously in the case of this show, the events and storyline have been exaggerated for dramatic effect, however it does demonstrate just how quickly criminal activity can spiral into other illegal areas.”

However, Mr Williams, who specialises in complex criminal investigations, regulatory and disciplinary matters, is attempting to alleviate fears among business leaders, by offering expert advice on identification of activity and what action to take.

He said managers, team leaders, and directors were well positioned to eradicate financial and business crime before it has wide-spread consequences.

Types of financial and business crime

Financial and business crime can fall into a variety of different types of crimes.

These includes money laundering, fraud, theft, scams, tax evasion, embezzlement, counterfeiting, and forgery.

Mr Williams said managers could protect their firm by identifying the different legal areas and remaining vigilant.

What are the signs

As many of these types of business and financial crime differ, it can be difficult to spot a correlation between the signals.

However, Mr Williams has outlined common signals here:

Secrecy

An employee or colleague’s refusal to divulge information about a client, financial information relating to an account, or even their identity, could also spell trouble, Mr Williams said.

He added: “Business managers should be provided with full information on dealings taking place within a company, as such, an employee’s unwillingness to share information may indicate that something is wrong.

“This is particularly the case if they refuse to name the client or share financial information relating to this account.”

Monopoly over accounts

Tying into the theme of secrecy, if one person has total control over an account and is unwilling to share details, this could lead to criminal temptation.

Mr Williams advised managers to ensure responsibility was shared equally to prevent any potential criminal activity developing.

False information

Mr Williams said another warning sign which could identify criminal intent is incomplete records and forms.

This could involve suspicious documents, the origin or legitimacy of which cannot be traced; a refusal to name business partners in documents; numerous questionable tax IDs; and other information which may appear to be at odds with the client and account. Equally photocopied documents, rather than originals, and missing documentation could suggest documents have been altered.

Mr Williams said: “Documentation provides a legal record of any transactions which take place in relation to your business. But it can also be a quick indicator of any discrepancies surrounding a client or deal too. If information appears to be incomplete or inaccurate this could suggest something is wrong.”

Unusual transactions

The frequency, amount, and location to which money is transferred can reveal a substantial amount, Mr Williams said.

Transactions being made at unusual times of the day, to locations which seemingly bare no relevance to the client or company, and also at irregular frequencies could be warning signs.

Mr Williams added: “Another clear indicator of potential illegality is money being transferred to high risk jurisdiction countries. More information on these can be found on the FATF website.”

 

What steps do you take next?

Once these warning signs are identified, what steps can business leaders take next?

Mr Williams advised anyone with suspicious to begin recording and monitoring the behaviour of those suspected. Where there is financial irregularity he advised evaluating the company’s accounts with the support of an accountant, or impartial financial adviser to offer an unbiased opinion.

He said: “If you feel there are financial discrepancies, it is imperative you outline these to key players within the business and where possible keep a record of any ongoing losses or irregularities.

“Evaluate all the finances together and evaluate where the issue has arisen. Keep accurate and up to date information, as this will demonstrate provide all the necessary support should the case reach court. It also demonstrates that you gathered sufficient evidence to support your claim,  and have taken every consideration before escalating the issue.

“It is also essential that you seek legal advice at your earliest opportunity.”

Where to report suspicions

Action Fraud – Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime. To report fraudulent activity ring 0300 123 2040.

The National Crime Agency – which aims to eradicate organised and serious crime across the UK, can be contacted on 0800 555 111.

The Home Office is working with professional services firms through its Flag It Up! campaign to help honest enterprises avoid becoming enablers of crime. Visit tgr.ph/homeoffice for more information.

Financial Conduct Authority – A financial regulatory body in the UK which can be contacted on 0800 111 6768.

 

 

Call centre staff fraud ‘must be tackled’ as UK-wide losses reach £40m

By Raspberry Jim,

Call centre managers are being urged to be vigilant against employee fraud “before it is too late” as UK-wide business losses soar to £40 million.

Consultant Philip Williams from Blackfords LLP, which specialises in defending some of the country’s most complex fraud cases, said the issue is among one of the most pressing facing managers in over 6,200 call centres across the UK.

This warning comes as figures from ActionFraud show that businesses in industries across the UK reported £40 million in losses from this type of crime between 2016 and 2017. During this period over 800 reports were submitted to the police, figures show.

Employee fraud is defined as committing a fraud against the business an employee is working for, these could include payment fraud, procurement fraud, and exploiting assets and confidential information.

However, employers could tackle these internal threats by implementing effective audits, Mr Williams said. Figures from the national cyber crime and fraud prevention centre reveal that 47% of frauds were uncovered as a result of successfully applied internal controls.

He said: “The ability of a call centre to operate effectively is almost entirely reliant on the trust of the customers it is working for. Thousands of contact centre workers handle sensitive financial and personal data daily and it is paramount that this is sufficiently protected.

“As such, any breach of rules which expose these confidential details is a serious issue.

“Employee fraud could not just damage the business’s reputation, but impact it financially, from a regulatory perspective, and also have significant internal implications.

“On a more national level, it doesn’t just jeopardise the future of the individual business, but potentially the reputation of the entire industry.

“It is for this reason that call centre managers must implement thorough audit and regulations to ensure proper procedures are followed in relation to sensitive information, but also to identify and effectively tackle any instances of staff fraud immediately.”

Mr Williams, who has extensive experience in acting on some of the UK’s most high-profile fraud cases, has offered his top four tips on what call centre managers can do to safeguard themselves against employee fraud.

 

Background checks are key

When hiring an employee to handle confidential data and interact with the public in potentially challenging circumstances, trustworthiness and competency is essential.

As such, one of the most important tools for a prospective employer to utilise is the background check.

This enables a manager to assess the individual’s suitability for the role to ensure the most appropriate people are employed.

An effective background check can review an individual’s employment, criminal, and in some instances financial information to ascertain their suitability.

For employees who will be exposed to particularly sensitive or confidential information, it is advised that this be coupled with a reference, both personal and professional, along with a mock working scenario, which can demonstrate the worker’s capabilities and character.

A background check is a successful line of defence which allows you to safeguard your business against fraud and crime. Failing to undertake this could leave you and your staff and business vulnerable to reputational, regulatory, and financial damage.

Surprise audits

While routine audits of the business and its internal procedures can be effective at monitoring the call centre’s progress, a surprise audit has been shown to be the most successful method of identifying fraudulent staff behaviour.

According to research, the duration of employee fraud can be reduced by 50% by utilising spontaneous audits, while the median financial loss from this activity was also cut by 43.4%.

Spending time to audit procedures surrounding customer security could help to identify any potentially worrying internal data or trends.

Examining whether security checks were carried out in line with the company’s policies, or whether financial information was transmitted securely could serve to protect the call centre against fraudulent practices.

Not only will this help to eradicate any damaging behaviour, it will help to shape future policies and strengthen the business going forwards.

 

Thorough training

Staff could be left vulnerable to fraudulent third-party manipulation, or inadvertently compromise information, due to a lack of training.

Reinforcing and educating staff about what constitutes fraud at work, and implementing stringent anti-fraud policies, will help to eradicate potentially criminal activity at work. Fraud isn’t simply stealing money from an employer or customer, acts can include tampering with cheques or information, false representation for example in an application, wrongfully failing to disclose information – such as a criminal record or conviction, or disclosing confidential information.

Educating employees about the basics of identifying fraudulent behaviour could help to dramatically reduce fraud in the workplace. Signs of fraud could include living beyond their means, a disregard for internal procedures, medical issues, or gambling or financial concerns, reluctance to take holiday, or an unprofessionally close association with customers.

 

Site security is vital

Ensuring customers feel secure in sharing their confidential information safely to your website is key.

Most call centres will have a website where customers can visit and log into their personal account, which could contain private medical records, financial or personal information.

In order to contact a call centre support member, some customers may have to input passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, or usernames.

As such, customers must be reassured that the information they are inputting is being securely protected.

Call centres should ensure their site is protected by an SSL certificate, which not only ensures information is transmitted safely, but demonstrates confidence in the site’s authenticity.

An SSL certificate ensures that the sensitive information is transmitted across the internet in an encrypted format to ensure that only the intended recipient can read it securely.

This not only protects it against potential identity thieves and hackers, but also safeguards against employees who may have been manipulated into disclosing customers information to a third-party.

Expert advice on challenging a false neglect or wrongful death allegation

By Raspberry Jim,

The sudden and tragic death of a nursing home or residential patient can be devastating for all those involved.

From the family who have lost their loved one, to the facility and its staff who worked tirelessly to treat the elderly resident in their final days, a loss can be profound.

However, an added allegation of neglect, which may have contributed to the resident’s death, could exacerbate the family’s grief and have significant legal consequences for the nursing or residential home involved.

Earlier this month nine private care homes in West Sussex were placed under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over allegations of ill-treatment, which may have resulted in the death of a number of residents.

This is just the latest in a string of investigations into alleged neglect and abuse at care facilities across England, with numerous homes closed or placed into special measures by the health and social care inspectorate.

Figures from the CQC released earlier this year show that of 4,042 residential nursing homes inspected found that 1,496 – or 37 per cent – were considered unsafe.

These statistics will be troubling for the majority of nursing and residential homes across the country which endeavour to protect and safeguard against the neglect of those in their care.

Consultant Phillip Williams, of leading serious fraud, crime and regulatory law firm Blackfords LLP, said facilities were facing a higher level of scrutiny in recent years.

He said: “With a number of high profile cases of neglect and related deaths being reported this year alone, residential and care homes are now under a significant level of pressure to ensure they meet standards.

“While it cannot be argued that this level of scrutiny is vital to ensuring the highest quality of care to elderly and vulnerable patients, it could lead to those in the industry feeling understandably concerned over the potential for being faced with allegations.”

But what can be done if a facility feels it is wrongfully accused of neglect? And, if this turns into an allegation of wrongful death of a resident, what steps can they take next?

Blackfords LLP specialises in representing care homes accused of regulatory breaches.

He said: “Any allegation is traumatic, but in cases where blame has been wrongly attributed, it is imperative that nursing and residential home practitioners feel they can speak out and seek assistance.

“Just as relatives have rights, so too do nursing and residential homes and their staff. In any instance where it is felt an unfair allegation is made, it is vital you seek legal assistance at the earliest opportunity.”

On dealing with an allegation of neglect, Mr Williams stressed that certain criteria had to proved by the complainant.

He said: “An accusation of neglect or contributing to a patient’s death, can be understandably upsetting for the facility and its staff.

“However, in order for an allegation of neglect to be made, certain criteria must have been demonstrated by the facility.

“For example, care home negligence can be demonstrated through factors including emotional and social neglect, medical negligence, basic needs negligence, or personal hygiene neglect.

“Issues within these categories could include malnutrition, lack of clean bedding, ineffective lifting aids, and failure to provide medication.

“Nursing or residential homes which have stringent checks in place to ensure the effective care of their residents, will be able to present these in their defence should a legal case arise.

“It is vital to remember that in any of these instances, the complainant must have substantial evidence that the facility or staff member was abusive and caused significant harm or suffering to the patient.

However, if it is an individual staff member who is accused of neglect or abusive behaviour, what steps can the facility take to defend itself.

“Staff who work at residential and nursing facilities are entrusted with the care of elderly patients during extremely vulnerable times of their lives. As such, rigorous screening processes, including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, are carried out.

“Should a legal allegation arise at a facility, managers can prove that their staff underwent the necessary DBS checks before interacting with patients.

“Furthermore, practitioners can introduce a raft of measures such as introducing staff checks, care plans, and charts to demonstrate how frequently and in what capacity a staff member was caring for a patient. This proof could help to counteract any false accusations brought against an individual employee if an investigation progresses. It can also serve to highlight the patient’s satisfaction with the level of their care.”

Mr Williams said that in any of these instances the accused should seek legal advice from the complaint’s inception.

However, what steps do nursing and residential homes need to take in cases where a patient passes away following a neglect allegation? Could they face a wrongful death lawsuit?

Mr Williams said: “As in the case of negligence, the strength of evidence is vital. And it falls to the complainant and their solicitor to produce this once again.

“In order to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a facility, a solicitor must prove the home’s conduct directly contributed to the death. For example, if the patient fell and suffered a serious injury but was consequently left without aid for a number of hours and then died.

“They must also prove neglect and also liability, as in the case of a serious fall, inadequate or faulty lifting aids were provided which contributed to the fall.

“It must also be noted that the injury or abuse must be judged as severe or timely enough to have resulted in the eventual death.

“In relation to the example of a fall, the death must be linked with symptoms arising from this, or occur soon after,” Mr Williams said. “An unrelated matter which arises some months later would not necessarily leave you liable.”

Mr Williams once again stressed the importance of effective protocol and filing systems in order to challenge any potentially false claims. A well maintained patient care plan, or daily chart system could be the difference between a wrongful death conviction or not, he stressed.

Construction leaders urged to ‘act fast’ if they spot worker exploitation

By Raspberry Jim,

Welsh construction companies are being urged to “act immediately” if they fear they are linked to modern slavery through their supply chains.

A leading Cardiff lawyer is calling on managers and leaders throughout the industry to be aware of exploitation of workers hired through third-party contracts.

It is claimed that the industry could be particularly vulnerable to this form of exploitation as a result of its reliance on contracted workers, cost-driven suppliers, and employees from socially deprived backgrounds.
This comes as figures from the National Crime Agency revealed there were 123 modern slavery referrals to the National Referral Mechanism in Wales in 2016. Just under half of these, 53, were in relation to labour exploitation, the statistics revealed.

Rhiannon Evans, a Legal Executive at Blackfords LLP, said construction managers and leaders should remain vigilant to exploitation to avoid being implicated themselves.

She said: “The construction sector is frequently recognised among the most prevalent for worker exploitation, as a result of the global trend towards outsourcing within the industry and its dependence on third-party contractors, who could be supplied from a number of different sources.

“While the vast majority would never knowingly partake in any exploitation, this potential lack of knowledge surrounding employee circumstances and conditions may not be a strong enough defence, so employers cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this.

“Employers who have hired in a victim of modern slavery, could be implicated in the offence themselves, which could have serious consequences for themselves and their business. Even in situations where a potential victim appears to consent or acquiesce to their treatment or conditions, this does not necessarily mean they are acting under their own free will.

“If there is any suspicion at all that you or your company are somehow involved in worker exploitation through a supply chain, act immediately and notify the authorities.

“In doing so you are creating a fairer, more equal working environment, not just for your business, but across the industry as a whole.”

The Welsh Government has this year introduced the Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, in a bid to end the pattern of exploitation through third-party contractors.

The guidelines aim to create more transparency surrounding contracted workers to prevent this frequent method of exploitation.

Miss Evans said: “These guidelines will provide more clarity for businesses on what constitutes modern slavery and how it can be prevented.

“Not only will it help to curb this practice, it will also protect managers across the industry, by providing them with the tools they need to protect themselves against becoming inadvertently involved in exploitation.”

Blackfords is highly experienced in modern slavery cases across the UK. The firm, which specialises in defending complex criminal cases across Wales and England, is currently acting for a Welsh family and several others who have been accused of modern slavery offences through labour exploitation.

Miss Evans said: “We have seen a number of cases of exploitation through labour, with many across the construction industry. However, managers in the sector should not feel they must stop using contractors for fear of implicating themselves in an offence. Rather, they can continue to use legal third-party contractors, but we would just urge them to be vigilant of any warning signs.”

Miss Evans offered top tips to construction industry managers to be aware of, including:

  • Workers without identification documents.
  • Very low paid workers, or those who are not paid at all.
    Food or water deprivation, and lack of medical care.
  • Limited or no social interaction with colleagues or others.
  • Distrustful of authorities and/or afraid of revealing their immigration status.

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Crash for cash conviction rise leads to ‘increasingly complex’ scams

By Raspberry Jim,

Desperate crash for cash scammers are making schemes increasingly complex following court appearances by over 150 people for these offences in Wales, a leading Cardiff solicitor has warned.

Criminal lawyer Phillip Williams of leading firm Blackfords LLP said the number of people facing prosecution for these offences over the past year has resulted in a worrying trend emerging across Wales.
He claimed that up to four scam artists are now targeting any one victim, to make the fake crash appear more legitimate and increase the likelihood of receiving a successful insurance pay out.

Mr Williams, who heads the firm’s Cardiff office and specialises in complex fraud and criminal cases, said criminals are now being forced to make their scams appear more realistic due to insurers clamping down on fraudulent claims.

This comes after more than 150 people have appeared in courts across Wales since January last year. In January 2016, 81 people were sentenced in a significant £760,000 scam involving a Blackwood garage. And 73 people have also appeared in court this year in relation to alleged offences.

Mr Williams said with prosecutions such as these becoming more frequent criminal schemes are becoming more intricate.

He said: “We have seen major convictions in Wales in relation to these types of offences over the past year, which will undoubtedly help to clamp down on crash for cash schemes.

“However, rather than deterring criminals, we are definitely seeing a trend where this type of scheme is becoming even more in depth, and has moved on beyond one car crashing into another.

“It is now becoming far more complex. You now see maybe two drivers involved in hitting the victim’s car, then a local garage could be involved, and even in some extreme cases a solicitor too.

“This issue has really come to the forefront lately as insurance companies have taken a harsher stance on bogus claims. We have also seen an increase in prosecutions as the law aims to prevent the spread of these scams.

“Going forwards these increased measures by insurers and the courts could help to deter potential criminals looking to benefit from this type of scam. Ultimately this will be good news for law-abiding drivers, helping to reduce the number of those affected by these scams, and prevent insurance premiums from being adversely affected.”

 

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What are the biggest changes to this year’s banned sports substance list and what does it mean for athletes?

By Raspberry Jim,

Pushing yourself to the limits of physical endurance to claim that all important win is what sport is all about.

Throughout the competitive world you see it time and time again.

Tour De France riders tackling some of the most challenging mountains in the world, international rugby players enduring significant impacts, and weightlifters lifting double their own body weight are just some of the examples.

However, some of these incredible achievements have often been overshadowed by one word – doping.

The controversial practice has surrounded some of sport’s biggest stars and in extreme cases, spawned major lawsuits, sponsorship disputes, and lifetime bans from sport.

With this in mind, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) constantly reassesses which drugs fall under its banned substances category when publishing its annual Prohibited List. This is also featured on the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) website. This year’s list, which is now in effect, features the inclusion of drugs which could be used to treat asthma, ADHD, as well as others that reduce estrogen.

Specialist sports lawyer Emma Harris from Cardiff-based Blackfords LLP has represented professionals and sports individuals who have found themselves subject to disciplinary proceedings.

She says the responsibility of complying with the rules lies with the athlete. “Athletes are expected to pay attention to the new lists and to ensure they are up to date with any changes.

“The biggest change which we expect to see in respect of the 2017 list is as a result of the addition of a number of asthma medications.  Our general advice to athletes is, if you have asthma and take medication for it, you should consult your medical team to ensure dosage is at the correct level, over the correct period of time.

“A TUE can be obtained from UK Anti-Doping (on the advice of a doctor), which would cover the athlete for any prescribed medication for their asthma. If they are on prescribed medication, then they should seek guidance from their GP or a pharmacist.

“There’s always a risk that an athlete might have taken the substance before it is added to the list and therefore can be caught due to it still being in their system.

“Those who do breach the rules, could face enforcement by UKAD, this could be a ban of a number of years, a lifetime ban, and even the stripping of titles and medals.  There can be financial implications as well. For example, if there are sponsorship deals then these might be cancelled for breach of contract.

“Testing can happen to athletes at any level of the sport and are completely random. We have seen an increase in the testing of members of university and Varsity teams, as well as semi-professional and professional athletes.

“The implications are serious, and if someone has breached, or is alleged to have breached, they should seek specialist legal assistance at the first opportunity.”

 

Here are five of the new additions and modifications to the 2017 Prohibited List:

Arimistane – This is a hormone/metabolic modulator that controls the levels of specific hormones including Estrogen and Cortisol. It also has a direct effect on testosterone levels.

Why could it be problematic: The drug has previously been praised as being specifically beneficial in bodybuilding in allowing competitors to lift heavier weights. It could also be used to help athletes see a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to weight gain and suppression of the immune system.

Salbutamol Inhalers: Also known as Albuterol or marketed as Ventolin.
Why it could be problematic: This is commonly used to treat asthma. Previously an inhaled dosage of no greater than 1600 micrograms was permitted over 24 hours this has been amended to indicate that athletes shouldn’t exceed 800 micrograms every 12 hours.

 

Higenamine: This is part of the Nandina plant.

 

Why it could be problematic: It has traditionally been used as an anti-asthmatic and can be used as a fat burner which can be found in food supplements. French internationals Brice Dulin and Yannick Nyanga were subject to an anti-doping probe after allegations traces of the substance was discovered in a drugs test.

 

Boldenone: This is an anabolic androgenic steroid.

 

Why it could be problematic: Although traditionally used for the treatment of horses, Boldenone can be used to increase lean muscle mass, strength, and the ability to train longer and harder

Lisdexamfetamine: is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the amphetamine class.

Why it could be problematic: It is used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and moderate to severe binge eating disorder in adults.

Nicomorphine: is an opioid drug.

 

Why it could be problematic: It is used in the treatment of severe pain which might be beneficial following injury or intense training.

Could this be the end of excessive confiscation orders?

By Raspberry Jim,

Emma main

Solicitor advocate Emma Harris

Excessive confiscation fines levelled against company directors convicted of an environmental breach could become a thing of the past thanks to a landmark Welsh ruling, says expert solicitor advocate Emma Harris.

Miss Harris, solicitor-advocate at specialist fraud serious fraud, crime and regulatory law firm Blackfords LLP, said the fines, which can stray into hundreds of thousands if not millions of pounds, could now be successfully challenged thanks to the ruling in Wormtech Ltd vs National Resources Wales (NRW).

Miss Harris successfully represented defendant and former company director Jacqueline Powell when the prosecution appealed to have her confiscation fine increased significantly after conviction.

She said: “We represented Ms Powell, from the Caerwent recycling company, at Cardiff Crown Court, in what proved to be a landmark case for confiscation proceedings.”

The company was prosecuted after it was accused of abandoning hundreds of tons of rotting food on land in Monmouthshire following the company’s liquidation.

Ms Powell and fellow director Jonathan Westwood were prosecuted and both were handed suspended prison sentences and ordered to carry out unpaid work and banned from acting as directors for five years.

Subsequently Powell received a £60,000 confiscation order and Westwood was ordered to pay £30,000. Prosecutors then appealed to have the confiscation amounts increased further to cover the significant clean-up costs incurred at the site.

After a hearing, the Court of Appeal ruled that Jacqueline Powell cannot be pursued personally.

Following this Miss Harris said: “This case has a profound impact on the way that company directors can be held responsible when a company is alleged to have committed a criminal offence.

“The prosecution’s approach would risk making every company director liable to the confiscation regime whenever a company broke the criminal law.

“Our client is pleased that the Court has reached a sensible decision in respect of the financial responsibility which any director can hold in the event that a company finds itself in criminal or regulatory proceedings.”

With the conclusion of this case, what does Miss Harris believe the longer-term implications for company directors are?

She added: “This judgement can only be encouraging for company directors who have been left open to hefty confiscation orders previously.

“I believe we are likely to see fewer appeals for an increase to confiscation order amounts or possibly more realistic appeals for a smaller increase if at all.

“Confiscation orders, combined with legal fees and fines can reach into the hundreds of thousands and potentially devastate a company.

“We hope that this appeal will spell the end of excessive confiscation orders.”

Miss Harris said that if company directors believe they have fallen foul of environmental legislation it is vital they consult a legal expert at the earliest opportunity.

Earlier intervention could help to minimise the damage and limit the possibility of prosecution and potential confiscation proceedings.

Miss Harris said: “If proceedings have been instigated then ensure you are represented in interview. This is something many people believe they do not need to do, but we can advise clients of all the things they could have raised in interview which might have stopped the prosecution from moving forward.”

Blackfords LLP is a leading serious fraud, crime and regulatory law firm based in Cardiff and London which has covered some of the UK’s most high-profile, large scale and complex cases.

 

Emma Harris is a qualified barrister who cross-qualified as a solicitor in 2011. She specialises in regulatory law, representing environmental clients in appeals before Natural Resources Wales and other professional bodies.

 

Coverage

 

Is This The End Of Excessive Confiscation Orders?