Written 28th November 2023 by Gareth Martin
He has considerable experience assisting individuals and businesses facing both regulatory and criminal investigation/proceedings, as well as, professionals being pursued by various regulators and membership organisations.
What is your background Gareth?
I qualified in 2008, having undertaken my training with a small criminal practice which at the time specialised in large-scale fraud/VHCC matters. I had actually started with the firm as a paralegal in 2006 when I completed the LPC at the College of Law in Chester.
Post qualification, I stayed with the firm for a number of years during which I continued to work on fraud cases, as well as other more general criminal matters. I became a salaried partner not long after qualification which I feel was recognition for the commitment I had shown to not only the firm but to the clients we represented and the work undertaken.
What criminal defence experience do you have?
As mentioned, I qualified at a specialist criminal practice so I have considerable criminal defence experience which actually goes back to before I qualified as I was both a paralegal/Grade C fee earner on fraud type matters but also a police station representative covering the majority of interviews under caution that came in.
As well as the fraud cases, I was also fortunate enough to have been involved in some high profile serious criminal matters. I represented one of the defendants in what was at the time the largest gang related trial in the North West involving 11 members of the notorious Gooch Gang who faced multiple allegations including murder, attempted murder, as well as, firearms and drug offences.
I have also represented clients facing allegations of conspiracy to commit burglary, often involving creeper style burglaries where high value items including motor vehicles were taken. In addition, I represented individuals accused of serious sexual offences including sexual assault, rape and historical abuse.
I have been ranked as a Next Generation Partner in the Legal 500 North West Crime section for the last five years and was shortlisted alongside Matthew Claughton, amongst others, for crime lawyer of the year at the Northern Powerhouse Awards last year.
How did you come to gain experience in regulatory law?
I moved to a national practice, joining their regulatory and criminal defence group. As a multi-disciplinary firm, the move exposed me to a different and also more extensive client base, including companies and individuals facing regulatory investigations and proceedings by the full spectrum of agencies/authorities including the Health and Safety Executive.
What regulatory experience do you have?
I have provided advice and assistance to businesses and individuals across all sectors of regulatory law including health and safety; fire safety; food safety; trading standards; firearms licensing; inquests and public inquiries, as well as, professional discipline.
I regularly advise clients from the outset of proceedings from interview under caution through to final hearings and appeals, where appropriate.
In health and safety matters, I have represented companies and individuals in cases involving hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS); falls from height; asbestos; dust and death on site. I have represented owners of houses of multiple occupation under investigation by the fire and rescue service in relation to their premises and the perceived risks they posed and I have also represented companies and individuals involved in the health and social care sector who have been investigated following serious fires at their managed properties.
I have represented online retailers and flight delay compensation companies under investigation and indeed prosecution by Trading Standards and secured very positive results. I have also represented a number of food operators over the years in relation to food safety and hygiene issues.
In addition, I have been fortunate enough to have worked on some of the most high profile public inquiries in the UK in recent years. I was instructed by one of the core participants in the Manchester Arena Inquiry, an inquiry which will in the not too distant future result in new legislation aimed at providing better protection for the public against terrorist threats when attending certain public places and events. I also worked on the Brook House Inquiry which related to the decision making in relation to and treatment of residents at an Immigration Removal Centre which was the focus of a BBC Panorama programme in 2017. In addition, I assisted a number of individuals called before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
I have acted for individuals and companies in inquest proceedings, with particular experience of assisting those involved in the health and social care sector i.e. care homes and domiciliary care providers.
I have been ranked as a Next Generation Partner in the North West Health and Safety section of the Legal 500 for the last two years.
Do you still undertake criminal defence work?
I have always maintained a keen interest in criminal defence work given the potential cross over with many regulatory areas. As such I am still involved in cases, primarily white collar matters such as fraud or HSE type matters, but also more general criminal investigations which professionals may face which in turn may impact upon their career/ vocation such as doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. I try to ensure that I am involved from the outset in order to provide a holistic approach to the advice and assistance they are given.
What do you think are the main benefits of having both criminal and regulatory experience such as yours?
I believe, as do many others, that criminal defence experience provides a solid foundation upon which to build a regulatory defence practice. As a criminal defence lawyer you get invaluable experience of dealing with and helping people during arguably some of the most stressful times of their lives. Such stress and indeed distress is equally real for those facing regulatory investigation for example, following the death of an employee or colleague on a work site or a healthcare professional or teacher facing investigation and proceedings before their regulator.
As a criminal defence solicitor, you quickly learn how to provide an empathetic ear but also how to manage people’s expectations around the law and procedure and this is vital in regulatory proceedings too where it is not uncommon for health and safety or professional discipline cases to run for months, if not years.
My own particular background in dealing with large scale fraud cases also meant that I developed a keen eye for detail whilst working through often large volumes of material and again this is something which is important in the regulatory field where small details which may help your client could be lost, for example within the lengthy technically detailed report of an expert or even the equally lengthy but emotionally charged statement of a relative of someone who has died in a workplace incident.
What made you want to join Olliers?
The decision to join Olliers was an easy one. I have known of Olliers by reputation since I first arrived in Manchester and have always been impressed by the firm’s commitment to criminal defence work even when faced with the relentless cuts to public funding and apparently decreasing number of younger lawyers wanting to work in the sector, neither of which have stopped Olliers growing in recent years including with an increasing number of enthusiastic paralegals and trainees keen to build their career in defence work.
When I spoke to Matthew Claughton and Ruth Peters about the possibility of joining the team to further develop the existing regulatory offering, it was clear that the passion and ambition of the firm comes from the top. There is a very clear commitment to strategic and organic growth and with the excellent new enquiries team and dedicated marketing resource, I knew that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass me by.
It has only been six months but already we have seen increased enquiries across all sectors as a result of our improved content, including in relation to health and safety, professional discipline, firearms licensing and inquests.
I know that with the consistently high quality advice and assistance provided by lawyers of all levels across the firm then the profile of Olliers and in particular the regulatory department will continue to grow and there will be no reason why we can’t become one of the go to firms for not just criminal but regulatory matters too.
Specialist regulatory lawyers
If you are facing a regulatory investigation or the possibility of an investigation and wish to speak to Gareth or the Olliers team, contact us at the earliest possible opportunity for a confidential discussion by telephone on 0161 834 1515, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or .
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Gareth joined the firm in 2023 and is an experienced criminal and regulatory solicitor with 15 years post-qualification experience. Gareth has built strong relationships with both clients and fellow professionals and is well regarded for his attention to detail, as well as, his firm but reassuring approach to the role.