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