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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 – Part 41

April 14, 2020 1:32 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 40, LWF looked at the potential for appeals against offences under the Order. In part 41, we consider the instances where a disagreement over a breach of the Order can be determined by the Secretary of State.

When there has been a breach of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and there is disagreement between the enforcement authority and the responsible person on the measures required to remedy the breach, the issue can be referred for dispute determination to the Secretary of State (Communities and Local Government, known as CLG), provided both parties agree to the process of dispute determination.

This route would only be followed prior to any formal enforcement action and can only be adopted to decide on matters necessary to remedy the breach, and not on the breach itself. Only a court can decide whether a breach of legislation has occurred and so the process of dispute determination with the CLG has limited effectiveness, as most disputes relate to whether or not the Order has been complied with.

One of the most common ‘bones of contention’ tends to apply to means of escape. The enforcing authority may believe the means of escape provision does not comply with the Order, while the responsible person may believe and claim that it does. In these cases, the dispute is most likely to relate to whether or not the order has been breached at all, rather than the means of remedying it, and so in these instances, the dispute determination of the CLG would not be of any use.

In other words, where the enforcing authority requires changes to be made to remedy a breach of the Order, and the responsible person believes no changes need to be made to remedy the order, the CLG cannot involve itself.

Where the Secretary of State has made a determination, the enforcing authority may not take enforcement action contrary to that determination, although they may proceed in areas outside the scope of the original dispute.

In part 42, LWF will look at the guidance provided by the Secretary of State as per Article 50 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, intended to assist responsible persons with compliance with Articles 8-22. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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