Fine increased for negligent nightclub

Solicitors for Belfast City Council have ensured that a nightclub which was negligent about Northern Ireland's safety laws has been duly penalised.

Originally solicitors managed to convince a Northern Ireland court to impose fines on a Belfast nightclub after it breached health and safety rules, but the court awarded only a small penalty.

The boss of the Europa Hotel's Elephant Room was handed a £100 fine after it was found that an exit route was blocked.

Europa's operations manager Stephen Carson was found to have breached the club's entertainment licence and was given the small penalty last March.

But unhappy with this result, Belfast County Council contacted its solicitors again and took the matter to the High Court.

In the High Court, Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr called the offences "extremely serious".

"The combination of the overhead closures on the door and the locked and barred final exit would have meant that if a fire had occurred in the nightclub, those patrons who passed through the lobby doors would have been trapped if the doors had been closed behind them.

"They would not have been able to escape through a final exit whose very purpose was to provide a means of egress in an emergency," he was quoted as saying by the Belfast Telegraph.

The Northern Ireland court agreed with the Belfast County Council and its solicitors that the fine had been too lenient and upped the penalty to £2,500.

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