The Grenfell Tower disaster has led to a lot of questions being asked about the councils involved as well as who is responsible in this time. Obviously, this is a terrible tragedy and it is right to ask such questions. In this instance, you need to look at the nature of corporate responsibility and what is the right way to respond to a disaster.
Legal v Ethical
Some people have questioned whether the cladding that was used at Grenfell Tower was safe to use and indeed whether it was actually legal. Leaving this aside, there was also the issue of why money wasn’t spent on installing sprinkler systems, something that remains the subject of an enquiry.
This of course leads to the issue of doing things within the boundaries of the law and what is ethical. For example, a lot of celebrities have been criticised for tax avoidance schemes even though they are technically legal.
Now the test for people who make the laws is to look at the facts of the case and to see what laws (if any) need to be made tighter, enforced more rigidly or need to be changed.
The right approach
The Law Society defines corporate responsibility in terms of the community, environment, workplace as well as looking at issues of equality and diversity. In this instance there definitely feels like there has been a disconnect as many community figures say they raised the issue of fire safety years before the Grenfell disaster took place.
This then leads to looking at how the council involved could potentially be prosecuted- depending on the results of any enquiry it could be seen as negligence (in the sense of not putting in the necessary equipment that could have prevented the fire or minimised the damage) or in the worst-case scenario corporate manslaughter (the company wilfully put people in the tower knowing that it was unsafe).
The latter is both a very serious accusation and also one that is very difficult to prove. This is why it is vital that the council involved take control. Resignations and public statements can stop this for a while but ultimately it is very important that the lessons are learned and that after the news dies down that any improvements are made.
Raising the issue
The best way that any council or organisation can respond to this tragedy is to make sure that any properties they own are not affected. In recent times fire safety checks have been taking place and any potentially hazardous cladding has been removed.
If you have any concerns that you would like to bring up about this please contact our legal specialists. We are happy to discuss cases in more detail and we have both the expertise and resources to push this further. Contact us today and we will be able to find the ideal person to speak to you. While accidents can happen and you cannot guarantee total safety it is important we protect people as much as possible and that lessons really are learned.