Where an enforcement agency has successfully prosecuted for food hygiene offences, the Court has the option of imposing a Hygiene Prohibition Order (often just referred to as an “HPO”). This order has the effect of prohibiting any further operation of the business.
Before imposing, the court has to consider whether the order “thinks it proper to do so in all the circumstances of the case” and the order can only be lifted after a period of at least six months from being imposed, or three months after a request for it to be lifted having been refused. In order to lift the order, it is necessary to make an application to the court, who will consider whether it is appropriate to grant the request.
Food business operators therefore need to think very carefully if they are summonsed on food hygiene charges and need to explore every opportunity to avoid a guilty verdict which could result in an HPO being imposed, in addition to a fine. In choosing a lawyer to represent you, it is imperative that you select someone who is alive to this possibility and can make submissions to the court to avoid it if at all possible.