A company trading as ‘The Far East Catering Company Ltd’ was fined a total of £7511.51 for serious breaches of fire safety regulations when appearing before Reading Magistrates on 8 September 2016.
The Defendant was represented by the Company's Director, Mr Bhuyia, who had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a total of nine offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2015. The Prosecuting Advocate informed the court that the defendant had pleaded guilty to the charges at a previous hearing before the Court on 8 July 2016 for failing to take adequate fire precautions in respect of the premises.
The charges were brought by Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) following an inspection of the Taj Mahal Restaurant in Wokingham by Fire Safety Inspectors on the 27 July 2015. The inspection identified significant and serious contraventions of fire safety regulations. The court heard that the contraventions were so serious that Fire Safety Inspectors served a Prohibition Notice restricting the use of the premises.
- A failure to take adequate general fire precautions;
- Inadequate fire protection for fire escape routes;
- No emergency lighting;
- No fire warning system; and
- No fire risk assessment.
The case was heard by District Judge Lachhar, who stated that although the restaurant was a small one, when running a business, it is still necessary to comply with the regulations. The regulations were enforced by the Fire Authority to reduce the risk of fire and keep employees and members of the public safe from fire. The offences were very serious and an employer must keep up to date with current fire regulations.
Judge Lachhar took into account the mitigating features of the case, namely; the Defendant had complied speedily with the requirements of the Prohibition Notice, dealt with the requirements of the Enforcement Notice and as a Director, Mr Bhuyia had attended a Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) interview for questioning and cooperated fully with the Fire Authority.
The Company was represented by Counsel who explained that the company’s financial position could not support a heavy fine. Account was also taken of the Defendant's financial situation and full credit was given for the early guilty pleas.
The Defendant was fined a total of £7,511.51 which must be paid within three months. This fine comprised; £500 each for the first four offences and £250 each for the remaining five offences, totalling £3,250. The Court also made an order for full payment of the prosecution costs of £4,141.51 and a victim surcharge of £120.
David Walden, RBFA’s Fire Safety Legal Support Manager, said: “As this case strongly illustrates, complying with fire safety legislation is not optional. Failure to do so can put people’s lives at risk, particularly in premises where both staff and members of the public resort.”