One of the most difficult things for many lawyers to do is to put aside all emotion when they represent a client or take on a case. Many people are unable to do this and this is why many people who may think that they would be a good lawyer find themselves being woefully out of their depth in providing the service that a client needs. There are many heart-breaking cases that a lawyer may have to represent and their role is to offer the best service for the client and in some cases, this is easier said than others.
Any case where there has been a death is going to be difficult but a lawyer needs to stand apart from the emotions that are involved with the case. If someone has been fatally injured in a workplace accident, there will be a lot of questions and anger from friends and loved ones of the deceased, and this means that the accused will be under considerable pressure. A lawyer representing a company official or director in this sort of case is expected to provide expert legal advice, but they are also expected to cut through the emotional aspect of the case and provide representation in a fitting manner.
It is clearly something that friends and family members who have loved someone will struggle to comprehend but there is a need for every accused to receive a fair trial and to be represented in an appropriate manner. This is something that many director disqualification layers need to be able to provide to their clients and it is obvious that some lawyers are better disposed to provide this service.
Emotions run high when tragedy occurs in the workplace
An example of this followed on from the tragic death of a 40 year old worker in Southampton. Investigation into the death and the court case itself led to Paul O’Boyle being sentenced t0 26 months in jail. This sentence comprised of 16 months in jail for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974 and 10 months in prison for a breach of the Fraud Act of 2006.
There was also a concurrent sentence of 8 months imposed on him for four separate breaches Section 13 from the Company Director’s Disqualification Act of 1986. In addition to all of this, O’Boyle was disqualified from being a director of a company for a maximum period of 15 years.
Russell Lee was provided with a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and he was also disqualified from serving as a director for 7 years.
The case refers to the way that Aztech BA Ltd, a company based in Alton, was run and the death of an employee who was crushed to death by a two-tonne sand-moulding box. The box fell from the lifting chains employed by a crane that was used to move the box.
O’Boyle was already disqualified from acting as a company director
The court heard that O’Boyle had previously been disqualified from acting as a company director for a period of 12 years in 2006 but he still acted in this capacity for the firm. It is understandable that there will be a great deal of anger at his position in the company and questions were rightly asked if this had any impact on the tragedy that occurred.
HSE investigated the death and they had serious concerns with the working practices in the firm and with the lifting equipment that was used by the firm. It was found that the crane involved in the incident had not been checked or tested in accordance with the law. The court was informed that the incident could have been prevented if a proper working system was in place.
Tim Galloway, the HSE Director of Operations, Southern Division, said; “The safety standards at Aztech BA Ltd fell well short of those required, as Paul O’Boyle and Russell Lee were only too aware. They knew improvements were needed to protect workers like Ian Middlemiss and they had clear responsibilities as senior management to ensure the necessary changes were implemented. Sadly one of the many areas that was seemingly overlooked was the system of work surrounding the overhead crane. Had this been properly assessed then Ian’s tragic death could have been prevented.”
Liam Mannall was the Deputy Chief Investigation Officer of BIS and he released a statement, saying; “Individuals are disqualified from being company directors for good reason, usually because of conduct which shows them to be unfit to operate a business. This case shows the tragic consequences of Mr O’Boyle ignoring his disqualification.”
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professionally for 9 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.