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Understanding Martyn’s Law and the Duty to Protect

What is Martyn's Law?

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, known as "Martyn's Law ", in memory of Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, will go before Parliament in the forthcoming session.

Martyn’s Law is intended to ensure that public premises and events prepare for the possibility of a terrorist attack by taking proportionate steps to protect their customers. In basic terms, there will be a legal requirement to risk assess and prepare for a terrorist event so that staff will know what to do. Responding quickly and appropriately to a terrorist attack can save lives.

Key aspects and implications

The new legislation will apply to premises and events accessible to the public and which are used for a prescribed purpose, such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink. In addition, premises must have a capacity of 100 or more individuals to fall within the scope of the proposed requirements.

The Government envisages a tiered system of requirements related to what activity is taking place at the premises and the capacity.

The current thinking is that premises and events with a capacity of 800 or more, such as theatres or department stores, will be required to take what might be described as enhanced steps.

The requirement will essentially be to take “reasonably practicable” measures to reduce risk, to document a risk assessment, appoint a responsible person and to notify the newly created Regulator of the premises or the event. It’s important to appreciate that Martyn’s Law isn’t focused on whether there is an actual risk of a terrorist attack at particular premises but rather what needs to be done to reduce the impact of an attack. And as with all risk assessments, the information contained therein must be reviewed regularly and updated if necessary.

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Premises with a capacity of between 100 and 799 will fall within what is to be known as a standard tier and the Government intends launching a consultation on what the requirements for those premises ought to be. The Government is keen to ensure that the legislative burden is proportionate but at the same time effective. It is anticipated that an action plan template will be published allowing for a straightforward assessment of the risk and the steps that need to be taken.

The new rules will not apply to premises with a capacity of less than 100.

Martyn’s Law will place a requirement on the person who has control of the premises to comply with any stipulated requirement.  The Regulator will monitor and enforce compliance, and will be empowered to enter qualifying premises.

Noncompliance will result in a financial penalty.

Whilst the finer points of the legislation may be amended during the Bill’s journey through Parliament, businesses ought to be giving thought to compliance now. Who within an organisation will be responsible for implementation? What steps will need to be taken? And what staff training will be necessary?

Need Further Guidance on Martyn’s Law?

As Martyn’s Law progresses through Parliament, its finer points may evolve, but the need for early compliance planning remains important. For detailed advice and assistance in aligning with Martyn’s Law, contact Richard Arnot for further information.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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