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26 June 2015
Under the Fire Safety Order (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland) a breach of a fire safety duty is only an offence if the breach places one or more relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire. Some breaches may impact on the fire safety of the premises, but not to the degree that people are put at risk of death or serious injury if fire occurs. Under those circumstances, the most serious sanction possible under the legislation is the issue of an enforcement notice by the enforcing authority. (However, it is possible for the aggregate effect of numerous minor breaches to constitute serious risk, which might reach the threshold of an offence.)
While the above applies to breaches associated with the fire precautions in the premises, there are other possible breaches that constitute ‘strict’ offences, in that the occurrence of an offence does not depend on the degree of risk. For example, regardless of the consequent risk, it is an offence to fail to comply with an enforcement notice (unless an appeal is made to a Court within 21 days), to comply with a prohibition notice, to obstruct an authorised inspector or to falsify relevant records.