Everyone deserves a fair hearing.  Even oil companies.

In April 2013 a North Sea oil processing station operated by Chevron was visited by a Health and Safety Inspector.  The inspector determined that the stairway accessing the helideck had become so corroded that it presented a danger to people on the facility.  He issued a prohibition notice under §22 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (UK), (Act) forbidding Chevron from carrying out certain activities at the station.

Image from here

Chevron appealed to the Employment Tribunal at Aberdeen under §24 of the Act.  Subsection 24(2) provides that –

A person on whom a notice is served may within such period from the date of its service as may be prescribed appeal to an employment tribunal; and on such an appeal the tribunal may either cancel or affirm the notice and, if it affirms it, may do so either in its original form or with such modifications as the tribunal may in the circumstances think fit.

On appeal, Chevron sought to rely on an expert report showing that the metalwork posed no threat to personnel.  The English Court of Appeal had previously held in Hague v Rotary Yorkshire Ltd [2015] EWCA Civ 696 that in such an appeal, the Tribunal was limited to considering the evidence available to the Inspector issuing the notice.  Despite this, the Tribunal considered that it was able to consider the later report supplied by Chevron and cancelled the notice.  An appeal by Chevron to the Scottish Court of Session was dismissed.  Chevron appealed to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

For the Supreme Court, Lady Black pointed out that “[t]he appeal is not against the inspector’s opinion but against the notice itself”.  It followed that the Hague case had been wrongly decided and that is was open to the Tribunal on an appeal to consider all the available evidence, including evidence coming to light after service of the notice.

HM Inspector of Health & Safety v Chevron North Sea Ltd [2018] 1 WLR 964