Richard Matthews QC

Year of Call: 1989  Silk: 2010  


Overview


Richard Matthews QC is ranked as the only “Star Individual” Health & Safety Silk by the independent guide to legal profession, Chambers & Partners, who describe him as “A leading authority with an impressive reputation… He is consistently sought out by leading companies and directors in need of expert representation”. The guide provides how, “His depth of knowledge is second to none. He’s exemplary” “He’s a champion in his chosen field with an innate ability to see the path to success.” “He is the gospel on health and safety.”

The Legal 500, lists Richard as a leading Silk in Health & Safety and in respect of “Inquests and Inquiries”, describing him as ‘Superb with clients and ferocious with opponents’ and ‘Highly regarded for work-related death cases.

Richard’s expertise spans the breadth of regulatory and business crime, particularly corporate regulation and governance, and encompassing gross negligence/corporate manslaughter, fire safety and environmental offences.

He has considerable experience of representing corporations, directors and individuals facing a wide range of regulatory investigations and enforcement action, particularly health & safety, environmental and fire safety. In addition to prosecutions and trial representation, Richard’s experience of these fields extends to actions for judicial review (of both the HSE and Environment Agency) concerning the exercise of powers and issuances of notices with consequent pursuit of claims for damages and of a fire authority concerning its retention of investigatory and prosecuting powers following a fatal tower block fire.

He has extensive experience of appellate work and was recently described by the Lord Chief Justice as having conducted an appeal “with his customary skill and learning”.

Richard has considerable experience in representing interested persons at Inquests following work related deaths and fires and was instructed on behalf of Southwark Council in the Lakanal inquest into the multiple deaths that occurred as a result of the tower block fire in Southwark and on behalf of an interested party in the M5 fog/fireworks inquests into the multiple fatalities that arose in that incident.

Richard’s experience extends to prosecutions related to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, unlawful storage of pesticides, trade in ‘parallel products’, copyright protection and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Appeals


Richard appeared in the leading House of Lords decision on health and safety, R v Chargot [2008] UKHL 73, and many of the leading Court of Appeal authorities concerned both with liability of employers and company directors (R v HTM [2007] 2 All ER 665; R v P [2008] ICR 96) and with sentence (R v Colthrop Board Mills [2002] 2Cr.App.R.(S.) 79; R v Transco Plc [2006] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 740; R v Pointon (John) and Sons Ltd [2008] EWCA Crim 513, [2008] 2 CrAppRep(S) 472) including the leading authority on the sentencing of major corporations decided by the Lord Chief Justice, R v Sellafield [2014] EWCA Crim 49; [2014] Env. L.R. 19; [2014] L.L.R. 572.

Richard was instructed in two joined appeals in the Court of Appeal that followed the Supreme Court decision in Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Limited & Others [2011] UKSC 17 [2011] 1 WLR 1003. The resulting judgment, R v Tangerine & Veolia [2011] EWCA Crim 2015, (2012) 176 J.P. 349, provided a definitive authority on the approach to offences of breach of ss 2(1) & 3(1) HSWA.

He recently appeared for the appellant in the Court of Appeal before the Lord Chief Justice in Natural England v Day [2014] EWCA Crim 2683, a challenge to the strict liability causation test in environmental offending and concerning the sentencing of individuals for environmental offences.

Richard also appeared for the appellant in R v Frampton [2012] EWCA 2697, concerning depositing substances in UK waters without a licence.

Cases

  • R v Chargot Ltd (T/A Contract Services) & Others [2008] UKHL 73; [2009] 2 All ER 645 (HL): Appeared for respondents. House of Lords decision on meaning and elements of the offences of breaching ss 2 and 3 Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and liability of directors under s 37 of the Act.
  • R v Sellafield [2014] EWCA Crim 49; [2014] Env. L.R. 19; [2014] L.L.R. 572: The leading authority on the sentencing of major corporations decided by the Lord Chief Justice; appeared for Appellants.
  • R v HTM Ltd [2006] EWCA Crim 1156, [2007] 2 All ER 665, [2006] ICR 1383: Appeared for Appellants. Interlocutory appeal to Court of Appeal from preliminary ruling concerning forseeability of risk and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Led for Prosecution.
  • R v P Ltd [2007] EWCA Crim 1937, [2008] ICR 96 CA: Appeared for Appellants. Interlocutory appeal to Court of Appeal from preliminary ruling concerning directors liability under s 37 Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
  • R v Tangerine Confectionery Ltd; R v Veolia ES (UK) Ltd [2011] EWCA Crim 2015 (2012) 176 JP 349: Led for prosecution. Defining Court of Appeal authority on nature of risk, causation and forseability following decision of House of Lords in Chargot and Supreme Court in Baker v Quantum [2011] UKSC 17 [2011] 1 WLR 1003. Led for prosecution.
  • Natural England v Day [2014] EWCA Crim 2683: A challenge to the strict liability causation test in environmental offending and concerning the sentencing of individuals for environmental offences.

Coroners Inquests


Richard Matthews QC has been instructed to represent many interested persons at Inquests following work related deaths and fires and has been involved in a number of the significant and high profile Inquests.  Richard was instructed on behalf of Southwark Council in the Lakanal inquest into the multiple deaths that occurred as a result of the tower block fire in Southwark and on behalf of an interested party in the M5 fog/fireworks inquests into the multiple fatalities that arose in that incident. Richard has represented a number of schools and educational establishments in inquests concerning the deaths of students who died both on school trips abroad and whilst on the premises. Richard represented the family of a police constable at the Inquest following his arrest, overnight granting of bail and subsequent suicide and the husband of a GP following her suicide in similar circumstances.

Richard represented the Chief Executive of HSE and the HSE at the Francis Inquiry into the role of regulators concerned with the Mid Staffs NHS Trust and advised the HSE following the Nimrod Review into the broader issues surrounding the loss of the RAF Nimrod MR2 Aircraft XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006.

Richard is listed as a leading Silk by the Legal 500 Guide in ‘Inquests and Inquiries’

Cases

    • M5 Fog / Fireworks Night: Appeared for Taunton Rugby Football Club which had hosted a public fireworks display on the 4th November 2011 on its ground, with the independent firework operator launching the display some 250+m from the M5 motorway; thick fog formed on the motorway that night and seven fatalities occurred in a large multiple vehicle collision and resultant fire. The Inquest examined the causes and possible contributions to the fog.
    • Lakanal Fire: Appeared as leading counsel for the London Borough of Southwark, the owner and landlord of Lakanal. Six fatalities occurred when Lakanal, a block of maisonnette apartments caught fire. The jury inquests were held over some three months before a jury. For verdicts and related information: click here

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Crime


Richard has considerable experience of serious fraud, money laundering, corruption and perverting the course of justice cases and is rated as an “expert counsel” and “leader in the field” by lawyers, both barristers and solicitors alike.

Richard has particular experience in cases with European Convention of Human Rights aspects and advising in relation to European Directives incorporated into English law with criminal sanctions. Richard has advised various UK and foreign corporations and individuals in relation to criminal liability for contravention of European Safety Directives in the UK and transnational criminal liability.

Richard has been retained as the “go-to lawyer” by major UK film and music companies to advise and act in trading standards, copyright protection and on behalf of recording artists charged with criminal offences. He represented Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (Tweedy) at Kingston Crown Court on charges related to an alleged assault.

Defence


Richard is ranked as the best health and safety Silk by the independent guides to legal profession, Chambers and Partners, and the Legal 500 and he is widely regarded as the foremost regulatory and corporate defence Queen’s Counsel in England and Wales.

His expertise spans the breadth of regulatory and business crime, particularly corporate regulation and governance, and encompassing gross negligence / corporate manslaughter.

He has considerable experience of representing corporations, directors and individuals facing a wide range of regulatory investigations and enforcement action, particularly health and safety, environmental and fire safety. In addition to prosecutions and trial representation, Richard’s experience of these fields extends to actions for judicial review (of both the HSE and Environment Agency) concerning the exercise of powers and issuances of notices with consequent pursuit of claims for damages.

Environmental


Richard has advised and acted for corporations in environmental cases concerned with the Environmental Permitting Regulations, Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Water Resources Act 1991, The Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, groundwater / controlled waters pollution, waste management regulation, waste permits/licenses, Producer Responsibility Obligations and Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations.

Richard provided expert assistance to the Sentencing Council prior to the consultation and publication of the Definitive Guideline on Environmental Offences.

He has extensive experience advising and representing water/utility companies in regard to environmental and permit enforcement by the Environment Agency. Richard recently appeared for the appellant in the Court of Appeal before the Lord Chief Justice in Natural England v Day [2014] EWCA Crim 2683, a challenge to the strict liability causation test in environmental offending and concerning the sentencing of individuals for environmental offences.

Richard also appeared for the appellants in the leading sentencing authority concerned with major corporations and breaches of the Environmental Permitting Regulations (R v Sellafield [2014] EWCA Crim 49; [2014] Env. L.R. 19; [2014] L.L.R. 572) and for the appellant in R v Frampton [2012] EWCA 2697, concerning depositing substances in UK waters without a licence.

He recently conducted a challenge on behalf of a company by way of judicial review to the issuance of an enforcement notice by the Environment Agency suspending the operation of an environmental permit to store waste wood.

Richard represented Murfitts Industries Ltd at Cambridge Crown Court in a prosecution brought two years after a devastating fire at the company’s licensed tyre recycling facility in Littleport for an alleged breach of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 relating to the keeping of controlled waste allegedly in a manner likely to cause pollution. After two days of argument and following rulings by the trial judge, the EA offered no evidence and the company was acquitted.

Richard acted for Community Waste Limited and Atlantic Paper in the Environment Agency prosecution brought in relation to exports of sorted waste paper in alleged breaches of Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations. Both companies were acquitted when no evidence was offered by the Prosecution. This follwed a defence statement challenge regarding Environment Agency sampling of alleged waste and the percentage contamination threshold.

Richard was instructed on behalf of the HSE and Environment Agency in the prosecution resulting from the investigation into the Buncefield oil terminal explosion and fire.

Fraud


Richard has considerable experience of serious fraud, money laundering, corruption and perverting the course of justice cases and is rated as an “expert counsel” and “leader in the field” by lawyers, both barristers and solicitors alike.

Health & Safety


Richard Matthews QC has been instructed, both for the prosecution and the defence, in a great number of health and safety cases. He has particular experience in cases involving the gas and oil industries, nuclear industry, asbestos exposure, traffic management, NHS Trust and uniformed services, construction industry fatalities, Control of Major Accident Hazards and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.

Richard appeared in the leading House of Lords decision on health and safety, R v Chargot [2008] UKHL 73, and many of the leading Court of Appeal authorities concerned both with liability of employers and company directors (R v HTM [2007] 2 All ER 665; R v P [2008] ICR 96) and with sentence (R v Colthrop Board Mills [2002] 2Cr.App.R.(S.) 79; R v Transco Plc [2006] 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 740; R v Pointon (John) and Sons Ltd [2008] EWCA Crim 513, [2008] 2 CrAppRep(S) 472) including the leading authority on the sentencing of major corporations decided by the Lord Chief Justice, R v Sellafield [2014] EWCA Crim 49; [2014] Env. L.R. 19; [2014] L.L.R. 572.

Richard was instructed in two joined appeals in the Court of Appeal that followed the Supreme Court decision in Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Limited & Others [2011] UKSC 17 [2011] 1 WLR 1003. The resulting judgment, R v Tangerine & Veolia [2011] EWCA Crim 2015, (2012) 176 J.P. 349, provided a definitive authority on the approach to offences of breach of ss 2(1) & 3(1) HSWA.

Richard is co-author of the leading textbook on Health and Safety Enforcement (Health and Safety: Law and Practice; Oxford University Press, 4th Edition, 2016). Richard provided expert assistance to the Sentencing Council in the drafting of the Definitive Guidelines on Sentencing in Health and Safety Offences

He has advised extensively on criminal liability arising under sections 2/3 Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Richard has advised solicitors acting for directors investigated and charged in respect of personal responsibility for company health and safety failures (s.37) and senior managers investigated and charged with personal breaches of health and safety duties (s.7). He has conducted numerous trials concerning the same. He advises a number of major UK and international corporations on health and safety regulatory compliance. He has advised on and conducted numerous appeals against HSE and local authority prohibition/improvement notices and in relation to licensed activities subject to appeal to the Secretary of State. He acted for Agchemaccess Ltd in the successful judicial review challenge to enforcement notices served by the HSE under the plant protection product safety legislation.

Richard advised the HSE and Environment Agency in respect of the investigation into the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion and fire of December 2005 and prosecuted the case at trial. He led the prosecution of Marks & Spencer Plc in a lengthy trial arising from risks of asbestos exposure to workers and the public in the company’s Reading store during refurbishment work, which culminated in the imposition of a £1 million fine.

Fire Safety Order

Richard has advised and acted for Fire & Rescue Authorities , public authorities, corporations and individuals in respect of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was one of the speakers at the 2010 National Fire Law Conference.

He has advised on the issuance and appeal against enforcement notices; advised responsible persons in relation to compliance; conducted the prosecution of a landlord/ responsible person of a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) who was imprisoned for breaches of the Order following a fire in which a tenant received horrific injuries; advised and represented a number of large UK retail and hotel chains in regard to alleged breaches of the Fire Safety Order; and represented the store manager of a major UK supermarket chain charged with personal responsibility for breaches of the Fire Safety Order. Richard was also instructed to advise and represent the London Borough of Southwark at the Inquests following the fatal fire at the Lakanal flats and thereafter in the recent Fire Safety Order prosecution.

He recently acted for a public authority in a judicial review challenge, heard by the Divisional Court, to a prosecuting authority’s retention of investigative and prosecuting powers relating to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Judicial Review


Richard has appeared for claimants challenging the exercise of enforcement powers by public authorities and advised numerous potential claimants regarding such a course.

Cases

  • R  v London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority [2016] EWHC 1701 (Admin): On the application of Southwark London Borough Council.
  • R (Agchemaccess) v HM Inspector of Health & Safety: Leading counsel for claimants. Enforcement Notices issued under the Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011 quashed by consent follow challenge by way of judicial review.
  • R v Environment Agency ex parte Wood Recycling (UK) Ltd: Appeared for claimants. Judicial review challenge to suspension notice of environmental permit relating to storage of waste wood and risk of pollution through fire. Led for claimants.

Murder & Manslaughter


Richard advised the Home Office Legal Advisors on the drafting of the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 and is the author of the Blackstone’s Guide to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (Oxford University Press).

Richard has particular experience in gross negligence and corporate manslaughter trials, having led for the prosecution and defence in a great number of such high profile cases; he has advised on many manslaughter investigations, both the investigating and prosecuting authorities and employers, corporations, company directors, local authorities, corporations and individuals.

He has been instructed in many of the carbon monoxide poisoning cases / landlord / gas safety manslaughters and those arising from construction related deaths.

Cases

  • R v Pyranha Mouldings Ltd & Others: Appeared for defence, representing company charged with corporate manslaughter and related health and safety offences. Led for defence of company.
  • R v Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Ltd & MO: Appeared for defence. Corporate manslaughter prosecution of company and gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of director plus related health and safety offences.
  • R v Sterecycle (Rotherham) Ltd & Others: Appeared for defence, representing Operations Director charged with personal breaches of health safety duties alongside company charged with corporate manslaughter. Led for defence.
  • R v Turnbull, North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Limited & Taylor: Appeared for Prosecution. Gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of principal of demolition firm and related health and safety offences against principal contractor and director of the company. Led for prosecution.
  • R v BP & Another: Appeared for defence. Dismissal of gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of architect concerning monitoring of work of building contractor who undertook dangerous method work that resulted in double fatality.
  • R v PS, AA & TW: Appeared for prosecution. Gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of three operational fire officers following the deaths of four firefighters in a warehouse fire. Led for prosecution.
  • R v N Ltd, O & O: Appeared for Prosecution. Corporate and gross negligence manslaughter plus related health and saftey offences, corporate and individual, following death of worker in machine. Led for prosecution.
  • R v Wheeler: Appeared for Defence. Gross negligence manslaughter case against landlord following tenant death through carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • R v Morris: Appeared for Defence. Gross negligence manslaughter case against gas fitter involving carbon monoxide poisoning. Court: Central Criminal Court.
  • R v Duckmanton & Others: Appeared for Defence. Allegation of gross negligence manslaughter road haulier principal of company.
  • R v Shaw, Change of Style Ltd & Another: Appeared as leading counsel for the Defence in relation to gross negligence manslaughter and related health and safety allegations, relating to machinery death.
  • R v Murphy & Others: Appeared as leading counsel for the Prosecution in relation to gross negligence manslaughter and related health and safety allegations, relating to construction site death.
  • R v W & M: Appeared as leading counsel for the defence in gross negligence manslaughter prosecution of two government explosives scientists arising from death of technician during explosives testing.
  • R v Winter, Winter & Alpha Fireworks Ltd: Appeared for the Prosecution in relation to the prosecution of two individuals and a company for gross negligence manslaughter and corporate offences following the death of two firemen in an explosion at a fireworks factory.
  • John Pointon & Sons Ltd: Appeared for Defence. Corporate manslaughter and related health and safety allegations, relating to machinery death. Appeared as leading counsel for defendant company.
  • R v W: Appeared for Defence: Corporate and gross negligence manslaughter plus related health and safety offences, corporate and individual, following death of worker in machine. Led for prosecution.

Public Inquiries


Richard advised and represented the HSE and its Chief Executive at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (the Francis II Inquiry) that examined the operation of the commissioning, supervisory and regulatory organisations and other agencies in relation to their monitoring role at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.

Regulatory


Richard’s expertise spans the breadth of regulatory and business crime, particularly corporate regulation and governance, and encompassing gross negligence / corporate manslaughter.

He has considerable experience of representing corporations, directors and individuals facing a wide range of regulatory investigations and enforcement action, particularly health and safety, environmental and fire safety. In addition to prosecutions and trial representation, Richard’s experience of these fields extends to actions for judicial review (of both the HSE and Environment Agency) concerning the exercise of powers and issuances of notices with consequent pursuit of claims for damages.

Richard’s experience extends to prosecutions related to unlawful storage of pesticides, trade in ‘parallel products’, copyright protection and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Publications


  • Blackstone’s Guide to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007′ (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Health & Safety Enforcement: Law & Practice’ (Oxford University Press, 4th edition, 2016)

Memberships


  • Health & Safety Lawyers Association
  • Principal Legal Advisor Parliamentary War Crimes Group (1988-1989)

Qualifications


  • MA (Cantab)
  • Girton College, Cambridge