We put the practice of good science and evidential credibility at the heart of everything we do. Which is why even when some environmental damage or harm has already occurred or been alleged and a regulator is considering prosecution or enforcement, there are some simple steps a responsible organisation should take.
Our track record with private sector clients shows that in cases where we get involved ‘early on,’ over two thirds of cases are settled and dealt with without a case being taken to Court. Environmental Regulators can withhold prosecution if there is no long-term damage and the company responsible makes every effort to ensure that future incidents are prevented. So independently assessing impact, looking at causation and working out how to optimise or improve containment systems and incident planning for the future, are key aspects of this service.
By looking at causation, we will also check to see if the regulator’s linkage to your site and the chain of events suggested is robust and proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. Our track record shows we have helped secure the discontinuation of several prosecutions.
Some of the top UK law firms and barristers can attest to our skills in this area. In addition to cases being dropped, we’ll work with our legal partners to see if; a warning letter, caution or enforcement undertakings can be advanced as more appropriate than a prosecution.
All of this comes about by setting up a dialogue with the regulators and independently assessing the evidence chain, causation and the environmental harm done to the environment. This focus on causation, in order to define culpability and the harm done, also features in the UK Sentencing Council’s Guidance on fines and sanctions for environmental offences.
Our independence and scientifically robust approach to incident investigation has also recently led several UK regulators in the Water Sector to seek our advice about their case load. We are happy to work with any regulator where we do not have a conflict of interest with an ongoing case. We provide an independent scientific review of any case, in order to offer you and your legal team the best technical advice on how to proceed.
Benefits and summary of services provided:
- You’ll be utilising a team of experts well versed in dealing with legal cases and the collection and analysis of scientific evidence to ensure it was collected under PACE guidelines and where utilised, meets the standards for expert evidence under the rules for experts in criminal matters
- For civil cases, we will make sure any evidence we collect or reports issued, meets with similar evidential rules for experts for civil cases
- We’ll assist your legal representatives, ultimately the Court, with a robust scientific independent quantification of environmental harm and where appropriate comment on causation and culpability. That essentially involves getting to the bottom of how and why things went wrong
- In doing this, we will set up a dialogue with the Regulatory Inspectors and work with you and your legal team to obtain the evidence relied on and/or collect our own evidence
- If you have been accused of a release or breach of a permit condition, on instruction, we can prepare expert (defence) or mitigation reports to assist with a defence or mitigation (for a guilty plea).
- We can also produce the same structure of report to support a prosecution case on impact, causation and culpability. This is because our work is always undertaken independently and based on the facts and data we obtain or are provided with
- For defence instructions we will also advise on what to do in future to prevent any similar recurrence. Reducing risks proactively is often a key issue a regulator in deciding on the appropriate enforcement action