I am delighted with the outcome we achieved

Life for new and developing businesses can be tough enough, without the extra burden of unexpected – and substantial – costs. When Welsh firm Medifill UK Ltd faced a potential £20,000 fine, following a pollution incident, there was also the prospect that such a fine could jeopardise the business.

But with the assistance of John Dyne, of Dyne Solicitors Limited, the firm instead received a conditional discharge when the case went to court – a result that managing director David Bytheway describes as “the best possible outcome”.

The incident took place in October 2007 at the Deeside, Flintshire, premises of Medifill UK, a contract manufacturer of prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical liquids, such as oral and throat sprays.

A rejected batch of shampoo had been left outside in a storage container, awaiting disposal in the correct way, but over the course of a weekend, it leaked into a drain, eventually finding its way into a local brook.

The Environment Agency launched an investigation and within days had visited Medifill UK, which it believed was responsible. David says: “While we weren’t sure how it had happened, we held our hands up and helped the Environment Agency as much as we could.”

David was warned that prosecution might follow and in September 2008, he received notification that the case would be heard by Flintshire magistrates. He said: “At that point, on the basis that I could face a £20,000 fine, it made sound sense to seek representation. We have a local solicitor for business matters but Dyne Solicitors were recommended to me by a couple of people as specialists in this type of case.”

Medifill UK admitted the charges against it, with John presenting an argument in mitigation that touched on issues including the company’s previous good track record, the accidental nature of the incident and Medifill UK’s co-operation with the Environment Agency. He also highlighted the damage a hefty fine could do to a company that was working hard to establish itself in a difficult economic climate.

Magistrates gave the company a conditional discharge and David says that everyone at Medifill UK is now much more conscious of pollution risks. Prior to the court case, John also looked at and advised on company procedures and before the hearing, it had put in place new sealed drain covers, additional training for staff and emergency planning measures.

David said: “It is clear that John has a very good knowledge of the Environment Agency and the way it operates and it is reassuring to have someone representing you who understands what the issues are and from that, has the ability to put a strong case. I am delighted with the outcome we achieved.”