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Addleshaw Booth & Co has created a specialist health and safety unit today (15 October) to coincide with European Health and Safety Week.
The unit will be led by litigation and dispute resolution partner Quentin Smith from the firm's Manchester office. The unit has been set up to give structure to an informal network of health and safety practitioners within the firm. "We've been working in the area for some time," said Smith. "Nobody knew about the specialism because we hadn't formed a coherent unit." Addleshaws has been looking at broadening its health and safety presence for some time. Smith comes from an insurance background. Moving away from competing for panel places, his idea is to tap into Addleshaws' client base so as to offer insurance advice directly to them. He said: "Most insurance panel firms will just deal with the occasional health and safety claim. We thought we'd offer our clients this specialist service." Smith's unit will comprise prosecution, defence and advisory capabilities. In addition to legal services, the unit boasts a health and safety professional in Dave Dixon. Smith said: "We've done a lot of work giving clients prescriptive advice to avoid or avert a disaster. It's important they know they've got backup and support. "We're investing in this because, hopefully, when problems occur, they do turn to us." Michael Elliker, a health and safety specialist operating out of the Leeds office, said: "Bigger fines on companies found guilty of breaching regulations, and the prospect of directors facing action and possible jail terms for failing their personal responsibilities for the health and safety performance of their companies, mean that business needs to take the whole issue of health and safety far more seriously."