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Legal Minds

17 February 2016 / by / in ,

Fact is Stranger than Fiction

Back in December we took a look how the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, which came into force at the beginning of February, might apply to the famous head bumping storm-trooper incident where as part of a squad of elite Galactic Empire soldiers in Episode IV of Star Wars he hit his head on a door frame sustaining mild concussion.

Now, HSE has announced it is prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney – in relation to Harrison Ford’s accident during the filming of the latest Star Wars episode: The Force Awakens.  The actor broke his leg after being struck by a heavy hydraulic metal door.

The company will appear before High Wycombe Magistrates Court on 12 May charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non employees (sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974), failure to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment (regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations 1999) and failure to prevent access to a dangerous part of machinery (regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998).

According to the BBC a spokesman for Foodles Production has said: “Cast and crew safety is always a top priority. We provided full co-operation during HSE’s investigation into the on-set accident that occurred in June 2014 and are disappointed in HSE’s decision.”

The film is most successful ever at the UK box office taking more than $2bn worldwide.

When sentencing the new guidelines take into account a convicted company’s turnover. The Court of Appeal last year warned when applying similar sentencing guidelines for environmental offences:

“In the worst cases…..the need to impose a just and proportionate penalty will necessitate a focus of the whole of the financial circumstances…..the objectives of punishment, deterrence and the removal of gain….must be achieved by the level of penalty imposed.

This may well result in a fine equal to a substantial percentage, up to 100% of the company’s pre-tax net profit for the year….even if this results in fines in excess of £100m”


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