Serious fire safety breaches cost a Thatcham Chinese takeaway proprietor more than £11,000 at Reading Magistrates' Court this week.

Onn Yan Lai, the joint proprietor of the Kings Chinese takeaway in Thatcham High Street, was fined a total of £11,219 by District Judge Matthews, sitting at Reading  Magistrates Court. He had pleaded guilty to 12 charges (brought under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005).

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority (RBFA) brought the charges following an inspection of the restaurant by fire safety officers in July 2010. The inspection was carried out after Environmental Health officers found serious breaches of fire safety regulations.

At the time of the inspection, the premises was used as a Chinese takeaway but also included sleeping accommodation for staff. The inspection identified extremely serious contraventions of the fire safety regulations, particularly as people were sleeping on the premises. These included:

  • Inadequate fire protection provision for fire escape routes
  • No adequate fire alarm system for the premises
  • Failure to take adequate fire safety precautions to protect staff and members of the public
  • Obstruction of fire escape routes
  • Combustible items obstructing fire escape routes
  • Inadequate fire evacuation training for staff
  • No fire risk assessment in place
  • No emergency lighting system for the premises
  • No maintenance of firefighting equipment.


The court heard that the breaches presented a serious and life-threatening risk, not only to the staff who worked there, but also to members of the public who visited the premises.

In summing up, District Judge Matthews stated that it was clear that the breaches to fire safety regulations had placed people at a serious risk of death or injury; and it was evident that some of the breaches had been present over a prolonged period of time.

Judge Matthews said that the breaches should attract a very significant level of fine but that she was obliged to consider the defendant's mitigation regarding his current financial position.

Mr Lai was awarded credit for his early guilty plea and his previous good character which was reflected in a lower level of fines. He was ordered to pay fines totalling £5,750 and costs of £5,469.50.

David Walden, RBFA's Fire Safety Legal Support Manager, said that some businesses continued to treat compliance with fire safety legislation as an option: "This financial penalty shows that the courts do not agree. This was a clear refusal to meet statutory requirements to ensure the premises was provided with adequate fire safety measures."


Posted February 8th, 2012 at 1035 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: