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New Look Loses Fire Fine Appeal Bid

Safety breaches cause fire


New Look has lost an appeal against a record fine for fire safety breaches at its Oxford Street store.

The high street retailer was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £136,052 last year following a fire at the London store.

New Look admitted serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the RRO) as it was found that despite the store's fire alarm sounding, it was reset at least once.

But in appeal the retailer argued the sentencing judge had not given sufficient consideration to the fact the breaches did not cause the fire, nor did the fire cause injury or death.

It also argued that he had applied a higher presumed standard of seriousness to breaches of fire safety responsibilities than he would for breaches of duty towards staff and visitors under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

These submissions were not accepted by the Court of Appeal and the claim was dismissed.

Some 450 people were evacuated from the store and surrounding properties when the fire broke out in April 2007. The cause has never been established.
Copyright © Press Association 2010

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I was amazed that New Look appealed the original judgement and am delighted that their appeal has been dismissed.

"New Look appear not to have appreciated the seriousness of this incident and the fact that the fire alarm was re set at least once. This exposed workers and members of the public to the risk of injury and death."