18 September 2020 | Firm news | Article by Justin Davies

Hugh James helps secure biggest UK fine for care home fire safety breaches

A Cardiff care home has been fined nearly half a million pounds – the largest care home fine of its kind – for significant breaches of fire safety regulations, which could have led to a “large scale tragedy”.

Hugh James acted for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service in its prosecution of Farrington Care Homes Limited - which runs facilities across the UK, including Hillcroft Residential Care Home in Cardiff.

The care home, which houses 25 bedrooms, failed several inspections dating back to 2011. Enforcement Notices were served on the company requiring works to be undertaken at the home, and the company was granted a series of extensions to comply with the Fire Safety Order but failed to do so. Two of the offences were committed while the company was being investigated.

Speaking of the convictions and sentence on 10 September, Associate Solicitor at Hugh James, Justin Davies, who led the case said:

“This significant fine should serve as a clear warning to the care home industry. Fire is indiscriminate and can lead to serious injury, even death. Care homes are there to serve and protect the most vulnerable in our society and these companies have a legal and moral duty to comply with regulations that are in place to save lives.”

The offences related to fire safety arrangements including building structure fire protection to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, inadequate fire risk assessment, insufficient smoke alarms, inaccessible blocked fire escape routes, deficient emergency lighting, failure to conduct appropriate evacuation drills, lack of maintenance on critical escape routes and substandard fire safety management.

District Judge, Shomon Khan, ordered that the company pay the total sum of £432,944.64 within 12 months. The figure includes surcharge and prosecution costs.

The Hugh James fire safety team provides advice, guidance, and representation in relation to Fire Safety law. It also provides training to Inspecting Officers on investigative procedures and techniques, and disclosure obligations.

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