Every responsible business sets out to obey the law. But, sometimes things can happen that lead to an investigation of any business, owners and employees.
This may arise from a specific incident e.g. a workplace accident or from a routine visit or inspection by a Government agency, such as Health & Safety Executive (HSE), DEFRA, Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), Environment Agency (EA), Trading Standards, the police or other agencies.
This is something that needs to be taken very seriously and, to achieve the best outcome, advice should be taken before any interview in every case.
“You do not have to say anything; but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court; anything you do say may be given in evidence.”
(Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984)
We can advise you about interviews and be present at any interview with you.
After any request to attend an interview we can advise:
- if you are actually obliged to attend or should attend the interview
- whether you should provide a written statement at the interview
- whether you should provide a written statement instead of an interview
- about the consequences of giving information in any interview
- about obtaining pre-interview disclosure from the enforcement agency
- about negotiating a non-court outcome for you e.g. warning letter or caution (a formal warning after admitting an offence).
Many attend interviews unrepresented on the basis of ‘we have not done anything wrong so why do we need a lawyer?’ but advice should be taken in all cases.
What happens at the interview stage has significant consequences for a case. In some cases it can and does lead to unnecessary and avoidable prosecution and conviction. A badly managed interview where the necessary information is not provided can be damaging. Every request for interview has to be considered on its own merits.
It may be thought that it is an unnecessary expense to incur legal costs to deal with interviews under caution. In fact investment in legal advice can lead to huge savings in costs and the avoidance of court hearings. If you are prosecuted and acquitted you cannot recover your defence costs at all if you trade as a limited company and an individual can only recover a small amount, if any at all. So, lack of advice and representation can be a significant false economy.
In many cases an interview with a limited company will be requested and a director will speak on its behalf. However, directors may be asked to attend for interview separately in their personal capacity. This is where it is alleged they may personally have committed offences by permitting an offence or by being neglectful. Such requests for interview also need to be considered very carefully.