Related Sector: Emergency Planning

The level of scrutiny applied to the actions of Category 1 and Category 2 responders has never been higher, and the climate in which they operate is ever more demanding.

They can expect to participate and give evidence in criminal trials, civil actions, coroner’s inquest and public inquiries, and it is a lucky officer or employee who can get to the end of their career without having done so at least once. Individuals may also find themselves appearing before disciplinary regulators or their employers should things go wrong.  

All those involved in emergency response would accept that saving lives in the future is the most important goal, and that a ‘no-blame’ culture is key to such organisational learning. However, it is not easy to reconcile these ideals with the adversarial and litigious process which typically ensues in the aftermath of a major incident.  

Current challenges faced by emergency responders and planners include:

  • an increased appetite for litigation and blame

  • demands for an early apology, often in cases where fault has yet to be established

  • a lack of political understanding over resource constraints and real-world limitations

  • the pressure to disclose all materials and documents held by the organisation very early in the litigation process

  • trial by social media, where evidence makes its way into the public domain outside the formal channels

  • the need to balance an internal desire to help and reform, with the duty to protect employees and observe fair process

  • calls for a duty of candour across all responders

  • the possibility of an increase in public funding for inquests and inquires

  • the Law Commissions’ proposed reforms to the offence of ‘Misconduct in a Public Office’ to include breaches of duty which cause the risk of serious harm (where the office holder has a duty to prevent harm)

Bond Solon is a leading legal training company for non-lawyers and specialises in providing skills and knowledge based learning for those who have to operate within the UK legal system. To help your organisation prepare for any litigation which may arise following a major incident, Bond Solon offers the following courses:

Log-Keeping - This course provides delegates with an understanding of how to write timely and accurate logs and records to best practice standards, during and after a major incident.

Emergencies on Trial - This course demonstrates how emergency plans, decisions, actions and logs can be scrutinised in post-incident legal proceedings. The training is invaluable in helping organisations to review and improve their emergency plans, preparedness, response and recovery.   

These courses are delivered by experienced lawyer-trainers on an in-house basis for individual public bodies or corporate organisations, or on a multi-agency basis usually for local resilience forums.

John Francis
Director - Bond Solon

This article was first published on the 1st February 2018.


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