I want to diversify my business, how will this affect my risk profile?
Farm diversification is complex from a regulatory perspective. It will almost certainly introduce additional regulatory considerations or regimes to your risk profile including; the potential need for additional environmental permits, health and safety risk assessments, crisis management plans or new and unfamiliar areas such as food safety. Likewise, farm diversification may introduce substantial numbers of new people (including members of the public) to your farm, which creates additional risks to be managed.
The exact regulatory requirements applicable will be specific to the new activity you wish to introduce, so it is important to ensure you get the correct regulatory advice from the start to maximise on your new business endeavour and avoid severe criminal and civil penalties for non-compliance.
Our team have a breadth of regulatory experience that they can draw on to identify the specific risk areas for your business and guide you through what you need to implement to ensure compliance.
If you would like advice on what specific issues may be applicable to you, or you are considering a new diversification project, then please get in touch with our Business Risk and Regulation Team who will be happy to help.
There has been a health and safety incident, what do I need to do?
Responding to a health and safety incident can be one of the most difficult challenges a business will need to face. You must ensure the ongoing safety of those you are responsible for, assist regulators and police during their inquiries and make proper investigations and reports whilst also considering appropriate representations, disclosure and liability mitigation. Responding badly (or not at all) to an incident can make a bad situation considerably worse.
This can be a stressful and complex area to navigate, even without the potentially difficult and emotional context. As a result, securing legal representation at an early stage can help support you through the process, clarifying the requirements and navigating you through the appropriate regulatory regimes whilst lifting some of the emotional burden by coordinating the regulator’s investigation.
Our team are experienced in compassionately and effectively assisting our clients through this process. We can become involved at any stage following an incident, but are committed to actively engaging as soon as possible so that we can best mitigate the impacts to you and your business and reduce the risks posed by any subsequent criminal and civil liability.
If you would like advice, our Business Risk and Regulation Team can be available immediately to support you.
There has been an environmental incident, what should I do?
Responding quickly and effectively to an environmental incident is crucial to prevent further pollution to the environment and mitigate your exposure to criminal and civil liability and sanctions. Failure to do so can lead to the situation worsening, and your liability increasing as a result.
You should implement your crisis management plan to prevent further issues arising, and seek appropriate professional advice and assistance as soon as possible.
Our team can assist you both during the immediate aftermath of an incident, and also during any subsequent regulatory investigations. We are experienced in negotiating with regulators and recognising potential legal risks and pitfalls specific to your business, whilst also benefitting from technical qualifications in environmental analysis and assessment. Likewise, we can provide you with guidance on how to prepare and implement a crisis management system to rely on if the worst happens.
If you would like advice or assistance in dealing with an environmental incident, or regulator investigation, then please do get in touch with our Business Risk and Regulation Team and we can be available immediately to assist you.
My insurer has recommended their panel firm, but I would prefer to choose my own solicitor – what can I do?
You are free to choose your own legal representation, and you cannot be forced to accept the suggestion of your insurance provider.
Insurers will often have a relationship with a panel firm who can represent you, however, they do not always have the best sector specific experience or an existing relationship and understanding of your particular business and needs.
If you would like us to represent you, but we are not your insurer’s panel firm, then please get in touch. We regularly negotiate with insurers on our client’s behalf, and we can seek an arrangement that allows you to benefit from our sector specific experience or your existing Ashfords relationship.
How can I improve Health and Safety on my Farm?
The latest HSE statistics have identified agriculture, forestry and fishing as the most dangerous industry, with an injury rate 18 times higher than the all industry rate.
As a result, identifying, controlling and reviewing the specific risks posed by agricultural practices is crucial to avoid criminal and civil sanctions as regulators turn their attention to improving compliance in the sector. This is likely to result in increased regulator interest, random inspections, and investigations and prosecutions following health and safety incidents.
Some of the likely focus areas will follow accident trends in the industry such as falls from height, vehicle strikes and contact with animals.
The first step to improving health and safety within any business is to analyse your existing risk profile, and identify which risks could be better controlled. These may be new risks which have appeared as your business has grown, or old risks where the control measures in place have become out of date or are under-used. Once you have a clear picture of where the risks in your business lie, you have taken the first step to controlling those risks.
If you would like advice and support on how to risk assess your business, or are concerned about a specific risk within your business, then please get in touch with our Business Risk and Regulation Team who will be able to work with you to identify risk areas for your business and design tailored policies and crisis management plans to assist your particular needs and operations.