A production company has been fined after a cameraman fell from 3 metres on the set of a film. The film is set in 18th century Japan and the set had been built without edge protection to make it look more authentic. Aside from the logistics of making 18th century Japan compliant with HSWA, what struck me as interesting was the level of award made by the court, in terms of the fine and in costs.
The production company was fined £300 which is very small indeed compared to recent fines imposed by the court. The financial resources of a company are taken into account by a court when deciding the level of fine to impose. That is, a company with deep pockets may be fined more for the same incident than a small company. Perhaps the production company in this case didn’t have the means to pay a large fine – my knowledge is limited to the press reporting.
However, the company was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,500. This is 3500% of the fine imposed. In Scotland we do not have cost awards following prosecutions. The HSE is, however, expected to be able to recover the costs of its investigations from companies directly. Until this comes into force it is difficult to know the level of bill that companies can expect from the HSE.
Are we going to see situations in Scotland where a court will impose a small fine due to the resources of the company, yet the company will be hit with a much larger fee from the HSE? Will the courts take into account the HSE invoice when considering the level of fine to be imposed?
On March 1, 2012