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Case and Breach explained

When we prosecute a company or individual for breaches of health and safety law then we prepare a "Case" against them (the defendant). The case may involve one or more instances when the defendant has failed to comply with health and safety law - each one of these is a "Breach". This site provides information on both Cases and Breaches.

Why HSE prosecutes?

Our inspectors normally enforce health and safety standards by giving advice on how to comply with the law. Sometimes we must order people to make improvements and if necessary, prosecute them. Inspectors follow HSE's enforcement policy to decide on the most appropriate action to take.

HSE prosecute companies and individuals for breaches of health and safety law. When we prosecute someone, we prepare a "Case" against them (the defendant). The case may involve one or more instances when the defendant has failed to comply with health and safety law - each one of these is called a "Breach". This site provides information on both Cases and Breaches.

What is a related case?

On occasions an incident (e.g. a gas explosion) may lead to more than one individual or company being prosecuted. If cases did result from the same incident or investigation then they will be linked on the prosecution system.

The 'Related Cases' link will only be present if HSE has made the connection. Clicking on the link will generate a list of 'related' cases.

How to access a standard search

The search facility can be accessed via the Homepage

Why use a standard search?

The standard search enables you to quickly find cases or breaches using only one search item, for example a defendant's name or aAddress.

This search may return a number of results matching the criteria and will mean browsing the list to locate the case or breachyou are interested in.

How to do a standard search

You must decide whether you want to find cases or breaches.  However, cases and related breaches are linked within the system so you can easily move between the details on either.
When you have decided on your search criteria:

  • Select Cases or Breaches  
  • Click Go

Searching for a Case?

If you have opted to search for a Case then you have a list of search items to choose from.  These differ slightly from those for Breaches. 

See ‘Searching for a Breach’ for how to search for Breaches.

Select from the list of search items.  For example - you may know the location where the offence occurred so:

  • select location of offence from the list of items displayed
  • enter part of the address e.g. Wirral.  Note : do not enter the full address
  • Click ‘Submit Query’
  • a Case list is then displayed matching your search criteria.
  • if you select any other search item then follow the onscreen instructions

What information appears on the Case list?

Whatever search item you used to find Cases, the list will always display the same information:

  • Case Number
  • Defendant's Name
  • Offence Date
  • Local Authority
  • Main Activity

At the top of the page it also shows you the number of results, and pages of information, matching your search criteria.  There are a maximum of 10 records per page.

How to select a case from the list

  • Click on the unique Case Number
  • If the Case you require does not appear on the first page - click on the page number link at the bottom of the page to view the other pages

How to re-sort the case hit list

You can re-sort any of the following columns:

  • Case Number
  • Defendant's Name
  • Offence Date
  • Local Authority
  • Main Activity

To do this, simply select one of the above column names from the drop down list and click ‘Sort’.This will then display the cases in the new sort order.

Case Detail

This contains the full description of the selected case:

  • who was prosecuted (defendant)
  • why (case summary)
  • the total fine and costs
  • the breaches involved
  • where the offence took place
  • the region and local authority
  • the industry and main activity
  • type of location
  • which part of HSE took the case

There are links available from the case detail providing further information:

  • Defendant – by clicking on the defendant name you can see defendant’s name, address, status and HSE reference

From this screen you can also:

  • See all cases against this defendant by selecting ‘List all cases involving this defendant’
  • See all breaches against this defendant by selecting ‘List all Breaches involving this defendant’

By selecting either of the links above to view all cases or breaches involving a defendant, a list is returned.

If you select ‘Breach involved in this case’ from the Case Detail you can see the Breaches related to the Case.  If there is:

  • only one Breach it will take you directly to the Breach Detail
  • more than one Breach, then a Breach list is displayed

What information is displayed on the Breach list?

For each Breach, you will see:

  • Case/BreachNumber
  • Defendant's Name
  • Hearing Date
  • Result
  • Fine
  • Act or Regulation

It also displays the number of results that match your search criteria e.g. "134 Matching results found"

How to select a breach from the list

The Breach Number uniquely identifies the Breach.  It contains the Case number and Breach I.D.  For more details click on the breach link.

How to re-sort the breach list

You can re-sort any of the following columns:

  • Case/Breach Number
  • Defendant's Name
  • Hearing Date
  • Act or Regulation

To do this, simply select one of the above column names from the drop down list and click ‘Sort’. This will then display the cases in the new sort order.

Searching for a Breach?

If you have opted to search for Breaches then you have a list of search items to choose from. 
These differ slightly from those for Cases.

See ‘Searching for a Case’ for how to search for Cases.

Select from the list of search items displayed.  For example - you may know the Act the defendant failed to comply with e.g. Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).  So:

  • select ‘act’ from the list of items displayed and click ‘go’
  • choose the relevant act by clicking on the arrow to expand the list
  • select Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • click ‘add’
  • click ‘go’ to search

A list is then displayed matching the results of your search for Breaches.

What information appears on the list?

Whatever search item you used to find Breaches, the list will always display the same information:

  • Case/Breach Number
  • Defendant's Name
  • Hearing Date
  • Result
  • Fine
  • Act or Regulation

It also displays the number of results that match your search criteria e.g. "134 Matching results found"The list displays a maximum of 10 entries per page.

When to use advanced search?

The advanced search enables you narrow your search of Cases or Breaches by combining two or more search items.

As well as combining search items, you can choose from a longer list of items.

Additional search items include:

  • Defendant's Address
  • Defendant’s Status
  • Type of location
  • Activity Code
  • Main Activity
  • Offence date
  • Total fine
  • Total costs awarded to HSE

How to access advanced search

Select the Advanced search link from the Homepage

HSE aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health.

Updated: 2016-02-22