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HARLOW BC WINS HIGH COURT CASE SETTING IMPORTANT LEGAL PRECEDENT

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On 27 November 2003 in the High Court of Justice Queens Bench Division, ...
On 27 November 2003 in the High Court of Justice Queens Bench Division, Mr Justice Goldring dismissed Greene King Plc's appeal and upheld the decisions of the magistrates and the Crown Court to confirm that Greene King Plc was a proprietor in respect of the Moorhen public house in Harlow and were therefore rightly prosecuted by Harlow DC for breaching food hygiene legislation (see LGCnet.

Harlow DC's investigating officer found overflowing refuse bins, an infestation of flies in food rooms, on food preparation surfaces and in direct contact with food, poor cleanliness and repair of the premises and the storage of raw food material in such a manner which was likely to cause deterioration.

Harlow DC submitted and proved that the statutory provisions mean that as a matter of law there can be more than one proprietor in a food business. Corporate entities may so structure themselves as to result in more than one entity being a proprietor, Greene King Plc being found to be a proprietor of the Moorhen public house in Harlow. However, Mr Justice Goldring observed that there was no suggestion that Greene King's complex corporate structure was in any way designed to try and avoid responsibility under the legislation

Chair of Harlow DC's environment and community committee Chris Millington comments: 'The case has set an important legal precedent with regard to the interpretation of a proprietor of a food business, which may impact local authorities' enforcement of the law.'

'The council offers advice and guidance to proprietors of food business to ensure compliance with the law and to promote good food hygiene practices. However, continual flagrant breaches of the law, which compromise food safety, are taken seriously with suitable enforcement action taken to protect the consumer.'

No te:

Harlow DC's environmental health officers routinely inspect food businesses in Harlow with 207 programmed inspections undertaken between April 03 to October 03. Follow up action is taken in line with our enforcement policy and the Food Standards Agency's codes of practices. All businesses receive a follow up letter after an inspection outlining good practice and where contraventions are found, suitable remedies are proposed within timescales. In this period one premises received five formal cautions and another three for serious breaches of food hygiene laws. Our enforcement policies ensures all food business are treated fairly and consistently whether individuals or large companies.

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