John Veale of Kangs Solicitors considers the law and procedure in relation to the offence.

The Offence

Gross negligence manslaughter (‘the offence’) arises when a person dies as a result of the negligence of another.

The offence is a form of involuntary manslaughter where:

  • the defendant is ostensibly acting lawfully but
  • acts in such a way as to render the action criminal and
  • can be committed by omission.

The Test

A four stage test as to whether or not the offence has been committed is set out in case law as follows:

  • A duty of care to the deceased must have existed
  • There must have been a breach of that duty.
  • The breach must have caused or contributed significantly to the death.
  • The breach should be characterised as gross negligence , and therefore a crime

Duty of Care

  • There is no general duty of care owed by one person to another.
  • A duty of care will arise from an act of a person where the requirements of foreseeability, proximity, fairness, justice and reasonableness establish such a duty.
  • The duty exists even where the defendant and the deceased were engaged in an unlawful activity
  • The duty can arise from a contract of employment

Examples of breaches| Kangs Regulatory Defence Solicitors

  • As the result of a dumper lorry crashing in Bath, four people were killed. The director of the company which operated the lorry and the person responsible for its maintenance were found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter as the lorry had been very poorly maintained.
  • In a recent case, a boyfriend failed to take action to save his girlfriend from drowning. He  pleaded guilty to the offence of gross negligence manslaughter.
  • A director was convicted after encouraging workers to enter apple storage siloes to retrieve the best quality apples to be shown at a competition. Two of the workers died from the effects of suffocation.

Breach of the Duty|Causation | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors

The test of whether a duty of care has been breached is an objective one, based upon the defendant’s position at the time of the event, and what a ‘reasonable person’ would have done in those circumstances.

The act or the omission of the accused must be connected to the death and the prosecution must prove to the satisfaction of  a jury that the breach made more than a minimum contribution to the death.

How Can We Help You? | Kangs Health & Safety Solicitors

We have a team of solicitors who are experienced in conducting health and safety cases from the initial investigation/interview stage right through to trial proceedings in court.

Please feel free to contact our team through any of the lawyers named below who will be happy to provide you with some initial advice and an informal chat about any of the issues in this article which  may be of interest to you.

Hamraj Kang
hkang@kangssolicitors.co.uk
07976 258171 | 020 7936 6396 | 0121 449 9888

John Veale
jveale@kangssolicitors.co.uk
07779 0559070121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396

Tim Thompson
tthompson@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07710 67 77 67