Fire Safety solicitor Warren Spencer has marked the 13th anniversary of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO] by undertaking an ‘extensive’ review of his FSO cases.
Mr Spencer stated that the review covered 200 of his cases brought under the FSO, and that the study uses a ‘combination of government statistics, primary data’ from his own cases and information he had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. His study is broken down into four areas, including breaches prosecuted, premises prosecuted, prosecuting fire services and sentencing, with only nine defendants having pleaded not guilty to all charges brought from the 200 cases.
Other findings included that Article 14 of the FSO, relating to emergency routes and exits, is ‘the most enforced’, while the most prosecutions by one fire and rescue service (FRS) is 120. Three FRSs have not brought prosecutions since the FSO came into force, while the total handed out in fines is £1,230,879 and the average fine – between 2014 and 2019 – was £20,375. Finally, the average fine post Grenfell was higher, at £27,519.
The full details of the study will be released as a series of articles by Mr Spencer covering the aforementioned four areas, along with a review of trials, the defences used, the effect of Grenfell, why so many defendants plead guilty, and enforcement notices, with the first report in the series of four available online here.
Mr Spencer added: ‘For me, the most surprising aspect of the government figures was that there had been approximately 560 prosecutions between October 2006 and March 2018. If this is correct, then I have been involved in over a third of all prosecutions brought under the Order which makes our figures statistically relevant.
‘All of the data relating to sentencing comes from my own records as I am not aware that there has been any other analysis relating to this since the Fire Safety Order came into effect. There are some interesting patterns and a sharp increase in the average fine imposed since Grenfell.’