Mock trial highlights duty of care role for businesses

21 March 2023
Road safety mock trail - the accused

Representatives of some of Wirral’s largest employers were in the ‘public gallery’ recently as a fictional local business went on trial for failing in its duty of care to their workers and to members of the public.

The mock trial took place at Wallasey Town Hall last Wednesday (March 15th) attended by more than 70 delegates from 20 different organisations.

Organised by Wirral Council’s Road Safety Team under its ‘Mind Your Business’ initiative, the trial and the expert talks that followed were aimed at reminding employers, who have staff driving for them as part of their work, of their responsibilities to them and to members of the public. It also sought to update companies about some recent relevant changes in the Highway Code and new Sentencing Guidelines for courts that were both introduced last year.

The scenario for the trial was a straightforward one which any of the businesses in attendance could find themselves facing.

A driver and two colleagues from Acme Groundworks, a fictional drainage and grounds maintenance company, were travelling to New Brighton to start work on their next job. As the van turned left from Birkenhead Road into Kelvin Road in Wallasey, it was in collision with a cyclist.

The subsequent police investigation identified several key areas where the company appeared to have not fulfilled its duty of care obligations and the Crown Prosecution Service brought a prosecution against the company and the driver.

The trial turned the spotlight on a range of aggravating factors that make the situation far worse for the employer - and the penalties more severe. These include the cause of the collision; how poor company procedures contributed to it; how failings by senior management to update company policies and procedures were used against them in court and what the likely punishment was likely to be for the driver and the employer.

Amongst the ‘players’ in the trial was law firm boss, Frank Rogers, whose company specialises in representing employees facing prosecution for driving offences and advising them on procedures they need to have in place to minimise the likelihood of them ending up in court for real.

On the other side was John Lawrence, an Independent Specialist Fleet Risk Advisor, whose 40 years’ experience in the field included managing one of the UK’s largest fleets – 8,000 cars, vans, heavy goods and other specialist vehicles being driven for the Co-operative Group.

The guest speaker at the event was Beverley Bell CBE, who was Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain between 2012 and 2017.

If your business has employees that ride or drive for work and would like further information, email

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