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Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act in Force

Criminal Offence and Larger Fines Await Negligent Employers


The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force on 6 April 2008.


It means that companies, organisations and, for the first time, government bodies, face a criminal offence and larger fines if they are found to have caused death due to gross corporate health and safety failures.

 

The Act is a landmark in law and the culmination of 10 years of campaigning by unions and other groups.

 

The new law:

  • does not require organisations or businesses to comply with new regulatory standards makes it easier to prosecute companies and other large organisations when gross failures in the management of health and safety lead to death by delivering a new, more effective basis for corporate liability.
  • removes a key obstacle to successful prosecutions because, until now, a company could only be convicted of manslaughter if a “directing mind” (such as a director) at the top of the company was also personally liable.
  • means that both small and large companies can be held liable for manslaughter where gross failures in the management of health and safety cause death, not just health and safety violations.
  • does not apply to individual directors, senior managers or other individuals: it is concerned with the corporate liability of the organisation itself (but where there is sufficient evidence, individuals can already be prosecuted for gross negligence manslaughter and for health and safety offences and the Act does not change this position).
  • lifts Crown immunity to prosecution and so Crown bodies — such as government departments — will be liable to prosecution for the first time (so the Act will apply to companies and other corporate bodies, in the public and private sector, government departments, police forces and certain unincorporated bodies, such as partnerships, where these are employers).