OH&S Prosecutions

Dreher Legal has extensive experience in representing and defending individual and corporate clients who have been charged with offences under OH&S legislation. This experience has involved advising small and large organisations across a wide range of industry groups, including representing corporate and individual defendants in some of the key prosecutions in Victoria in the last 10 years.

OH&S prosecutions are generally very stressful events for a business and its employees. Due to the nature of the criminal process, theycan take significant time to resolve through the courts, forcing your employees to re-live the incident many years later, and placing pressure onyour resources and budgets. In addition, criminal convictions may have contractual implications for the your business’s future dealings and may impact on other civil litigation arising from the incident. It is therefore important to respond to charges under the OHS Act in a way that represents both your legal and commercial needs.

We can assist youby:

  • Advising on legal strategy and the prospects of successfully defending the charges: We can review the charges and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, to advise you on prospects of successfully defending all or some of the charges. From there, we can develop a legal strategy with you on how to respond to the charges. This strategy will take into account your legal, organisational and commercial considerations, to minimise the impact that the prosecution process may have on your business.
  • Liaising and negotiating with the prosecution on your behalf: We have extensive experience in dealing directly with the regulators, including the inspectorate and the legal teams within them. We can negotiate on your behalf to withdraw some or all of the charges, amend the charges to narrow the scope of the offences or negotiate alternatives to a prosecution (see below).
  • Negotiating alternatives to the prosecution with the regulator, such as entering into an enforceable undertaking: An enforceable undertaking is an agreement that you will not be prosecuted for the offences with which you are charged, in exchange for giving an undertaking that you will carry out specific activities to improve health and safety for workers and to deliver benefits to industry and the broader community. This approach has the benefit of providing a positive outcome from the incident through the implementation of proactive safety measures and avoids, not only the stress, delays and costs associated witha prosecution, but also a criminal conviction.
  • Representing you during defence trials and plea hearings: We can prepare for and appear on your behalf in court either at a trial to defend the charges, or at a plea hearing to mitigate the offence and minimise any penalties.