VolkerHighways has hosted a mock trial event which highlighted the importance of managing and documenting health and safety processes correctly. The event allowed the VolkerHighways team to develop a much greater understanding of the legal processes involved in legal proceedings and court actions. Lessons learnt will enable the business to better support its clients in ensuring full compliance with the law.
The event was supported by Graham Kelly, Director for Kelly Adjusters and Sandra Cowan representing Contractsure who provided expert direction from the insurer's perspective.
The mock trial focused on a fictional court case, in which a member of the public claimed that injuries sustained while using a ramp were the result of a defect within the traffic management and that this constituted negligence. VolkerHighways employees were given the opportunity to experience the environment of a working trial, acting out the roles of defendants and witnesses. Barristers Gillian Crew and James Newman from Ely Place Chambers represented the prosecution and defence, while Trevor Cottingham: Executive Loss Adjuster, Casualty Claims for ACE European Group presided as the trial judge. Tracey Hulme, a Senior Associate of Hill Dickinson LLP played the part of the claimant bringing the personal injury claim to the court.
While a civil case such as this would not involve a jury in real life, the mock trial used representatives of VolkerHighways in forming two juries to debate the evidence. The judge and juries reached the same overall conclusion regarding the case, though this exercise emphasised how people can interpret the same information differently, leading to a wide range of opinions.
The mock trial was a great success and received excellent feedback from attendees, both those who took part and the substantial gallery. The interactive session was described as realistic, engaging and informative, and a great way to highlight the importance of recording information accurately. Acting on the positive comments and suggestions of the attendees, VolkerHighways plan to deliver further events of this type in the future.
Phil Thomas, VolkerHighways' Head of HSEQS commented: “Protecting the health and safety of customers and everyone involved in our operations is one of VolkerHighways’ highest priorities, so getting the opportunity to work with legal experts to deliver this fascinating event has been really interesting and a fantastic learning opportunity. The mock trial highlighted the importance of ensuring that our health and safety procedures are being followed, monitored and documented. The whole event demonstrated how our individual and collective actions contribute to the success or failure of those arrangements. By raising awareness of the challenges our work activities can generate and that our staff may potentially face in the event of legal proceedings, we can prepare our operational teams to be more Health & Safety focused. This will ensure we can continue to support our clients more effectively in managing risk and avoiding potential health and safety incidents.”