Supporting a client through tragedy

When fatality struck at a family run business, our client faced years of distress, confusion and potentially catastrophic sanctions.

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How we helped

When fatality struck at a family run business, our client faced years of distress, confusion and potentially catastrophic sanctions. So as their broker, we stepped up to support and advise them through this tragic event.

Our clients are at the heart of our business, and we understand every detail about them to make sure we can always get the best for them.

This philosophy allowed us to weave them through the complex insurance implications, going the extra mile to remove the insurer’s legal team and implant our own, saving our client hundreds of thousands of pounds and countless jobs.

What happened

When the incident occurred, an employee of a long standing construction client was pushing a wooden trolley through the yard at the insured’s premises, when he was knocked down and killed by a large fork lift truck driven by his brother.

This tragic event had a huge impact on the business in many ways, not least in terms of staff morale. Romero were on hand from day one to provide advice and assistance on the
insurance position and both Employers’ Liability and Directors & Officers insurers were put on notice.

The HSE investigated the incident and PACE inter views were conducted early on in the process. In summer 2018, the client received notice that the HSE intended to prosecute the
business. Fear, uncertainty and distress had hung over the business and its directors since the incident took place, and this result was a hammer blow to a team already racked with
devastation adding more shock and upset to the entire workforce.

We were on hand to offer immediate advice from an insurance perspective and to assist with a strategy to best handle the prosecution and control its outcome to the largest
extent possible.

How we supported them

Following the introduction of the new sentencing guidelines and the increase in fines, we had recognised the very real risk our clients could potentially face and had taken action to assist with any such prosecution by blending our claims and risk management services into one unit in order to provide the best possible advice.

Our client’s insurer had appointed a firm of solicitors selected from their panel. And whilst they had provided good advice and support initially, once the notice of prosecution was delivered, the perception was that they became ‘hands off’ and only interested in forcing an early guilty plea.

We insisted that our preferred regulatory lawyers were appointed to ensure that our client was provided with the very best advice on the conduct of HSE investigations.

From the initial request for documentation right the way through to the sentencing hearing, during which the outcome can be greatly altered by good advice on how and when to plea, along with how to prepare mitigation arguments.

Given our client’s turnover at the time, they were facing a potential fine ranging from £220k, to £1.2m with a starting point of £450k.

Our integrated thinking and quick response in supporting the business lead to the best result that could be hoped for given the circumstances.

The outcomes of our support

Had our client continued with the panel lawyers, it is likely that they would have plead guilty to all charges in order to make a saving on the fine and would not have made such convincing mitigation arguments. They would have been heavily penalised and likely hit with a seven figure fine.

Our initiative in introducing expert regulatory lawyers, a defense of ‘Abuse of Process’ was formulated against the HSE for severe delays in bringing prosecution (six years), which had impacted hugely on the business and its directors. The HSE provided an indefensible excuse that the investigator was simply slow in her work, which was absurd and seriously challenged their case.

By raising such arguments, the HSE became more amenable to negotiation and ultimately climbed down from their original stance. The case was heard in late 2018 and the judge considering the failures by the HSE and the mitigation put for ward by our client, handed our client a fine of £233,334 plus costs spread over 3 instalments.

With an ever shifting litigation landscape, our quick response and lateral thinking helped save countless jobs and potentially even the business itself had a crippling fine been handed down upon them. We were proud to have been able to support the business and its people through this awful time, and made sure that at all times they received the best advice and service through tragically difficult times.

“The team at Romero feel like a part of the family and fabric of my business. Through tough times, they have proven to have the knowledge on the best course of action, and the caring attitude to reassure us through the worst.

They went above and beyond what we expected, and proved that they genuinely care about me and my business, and doing the best for us.”

Our client's Managing Director
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