"If a HIN is breached, the client would commit a criminal offence and could be prosecuted."
Food Regulatory team
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Who was the Client?
Small family run abattoir regulated by the Food Standards Agency (“FSA”).
What was the issue the client needed help with?
The Client was served several Hygiene Improvement Notices for maintenance-based issues such as rust in the chillers, condensation and flaking paint in the corridors.
Why did they choose Roythornes?
The client had been referred to Roythornes by their trade association, AIMS.
What have we done for the client?
We took instructions from the client and wrote a pre-action letter inviting the FSA to withdraw the Notices.
When the FSA refused to do so, we appealed the notices to the Magistrates Court and made several technical legal arguments alongside the factual arguments.
We instructed a barrister and attended a week long hearing at the Magistrates Court.
What has been the benefit to the client?
If a HIN is breached, the client would commit a criminal offence and could be prosecuted. By appealing the HINs, our client had more chance of recovering their costs than they would have had in criminal proceedings.
We were able to get two out of the five notices cancelled and an extension of time to comply with the notices which were upheld. We also secured a guarantee that our client would not be prosecuted if they complied with the notices before the extended deadline.
Why was the case important?
It is important to carefully consider any enforcement action taken by the Regulator, particularly if there appears to be no risk to public health and the issues appear trivial. Where this is the case, it is not unusual for such notices to be invalid or unfounded. As any breach of a HIN is a criminal offence and can lead to an expensive prosecution which could damage a business’ reputation, taking legal advice is always the best course of action.