1. For the purpose of jurisdiction, offences are classified according to whether they are:
- triable summarily (by the magistrates’ court). These are also called “summary only” offences;
- triable either way (in the magistrates’ court or Crown Court); or
- triable only on indictment (Crown Court only).
2. “Summary only” offences prosecuted by HSE are:
- Offences committed before 16 January 2009 set out in s.33(2)1 HSWA 1974;
- Offences under section 33(1)(d) (contravening section 14 requirements), (h) (intentionally obstructing an inspector) and (n) (falsely pretending to be an inspector) committed on or after 16 January 20092;
- Offences under the Employers' Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969; and
- Offences under the relevant statutory provisions which are stated to be “summary only”, such as those under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992.
3. The majority of health and safety offences are triable either way. There are no offences for which HSE is the enforcing authority that are triable only on indictment3.
4. Health and safety prosecutions brought by HSE begin with an information being laid. The information is normally laid in the magistrates’ court for the area where the offence was committed, although it may be laid (and the case tried) elsewhere (see below)4. Details of courts and Local Justice Areas can be checked in the directory of UK courts at each HSE office.
5. Any magistrates’ court may:
- try all summary offences in England and Wales, irrespective of where they were committed;
- conduct an allocation procedure for any either-way offence committed in England or Wales;
- if it appears more suitable for magistrates trial try any either-way offence, committed in England and Wales;
- remand an accused in custody or on bail5.
6. Offences committed in connection with any plant or substance may, if necessary for the purpose of bringing the offence within the field of responsibility of any enforcing authority or conferring jurisdiction on any court to entertain proceedings for the offence, be treated as having been committed at the place where the plant or substance is for the time being6.
- S.33(2) states that persons convicted of the following offences are liable on summary conviction to a fine: offences under s.33(1)(d) (contravening s.14 requirements); (f) (preventing or attempting to prevent a person from speaking to an inspector); (h) (intentionally obstructing an inspector); (n) (falsely pretending to be an inspector); and (e) (where it consists of contravening a requirement imposed by an inspector under s.20). See also the Sentencing and Costs section, Model examples. Back to reference of footnote 1
- The Health & Safety (Offences) Act 2008, section 33(2) (as amended) and schedule 3A. In particular, offences under s.33(1)(e) (relating to s.20 requirements) and (f) which are subject to the 2008 Act are no longer summary only offences. Back to reference of footnote 2
- Corporate manslaughter and gross negligence manslaughter are triable only on indictment and are prosecuted by the CPS. Back to reference of footnote 3
- Magistrates Courts Act (MCA) 1980, section 2 (as amended). Back to reference of footnote 4
- Sections 2 and 128 MCA 1980. Back to reference of footnote 5
- HSWA 1974, s.35. An example might be the prosecution of a manufacturer or supplier of plant under s.6 HSWA 1974. Back to reference of footnote 6