The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (‘the Act’), which came into force on 6th April 2008, introduced a new statutory criminal offence of corporate manslaughter (‘the new offence’) thereby providing accountability in respect of deaths which have arisen as the result of very serious management failings.
The Position Prior to the Act | Kangs Health & Safety Solicitors
Prior to the Act it was possible for a company to be prosecuted for a number of criminal offences, including the common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter but in order for that company to be found guilty of the offence, a senior individual, known as the ‘directing mind’ had to be guilty of the offence as well.
The Purpose of the Act | Kangs Criminal Advisory Team
- The new offence was created to overcome procedural problems in attaching blame to any particular individual.
- The Act widened the law so that the new offence can be proven by a gross breach of duty of care by senior management as opposed to one senior manager having the ‘directing mind’.
- The new offence targets companies and not the directors or other senior officials personally although they remain culpable in respect of health and safety issues and gross negligence manslaughter in situations where both the evidence and the costs of prosecution justify a prosecution.
What Elements Need To Be Proved? | Kangs Serious Crime Solicitors
Section 1 of the Act provides that the following elements need to be proved:
- the defendant must be a qualifying organisation
- the organisation caused the death
- a relevant duty of care was owed by the organisation to the deceased
- there was a gross breach of that duty
- a substantial element of that breach was in the way those activities were managed or organised by senior management and
- the defendant must not fall within one of the exemptions for prosecution under the Act.
What Is A Qualifying Organisation? | Kangs Health & Safety Solicitors
Section 1(2) of the Act states the new offence applies to:
- a corporation
- a department or other body listed in Schedule 1
- a police force and
- a Partnership or trade union or employer’s association that is an employer.
Penalties | Kangs Criminal Defence Lawyers
- the imposition of unlimited fines
- remedial orders to address the failures causing the death
- publicity orders requiring the publication of details of the conviction and fine.
Corporate Manslaughter | How Can Kangs Solicitors Assist?
Whilst prosecutions in respect of the new offence have been restricted to date, numbers are increasing and the expectation is that they will start to be become far more frequent.
Kangs Solicitors are experienced in assisting clients in defending prosecutions of this nature and have a team of solicitors specialising in regulatory prosecutions who can guide and assist you through the investigation stage and any subsequent prosecution.
Our Team can be contacted through any of the following: