Corporate Manslaughter - Back With Teeth
Corporate Manslaughter – Back With Teeth
The well-publicised inability of prosecutors to obtain convictions under the existing corporate manslaughter legislation, as evidenced by the recent acquittal of the five rail officials charged following the Hatfield rail disaster, has prompted the Government to reintroduce legislation in this area which will seek to make it easier to hold companies responsible for corporate manslaughter.
Under the present legislation, to obtain a conviction for corporate manslaughter it is necessary to identify a ‘controlling mind’, who must be a senior person with appropriate responsibility and authority. This is in practice very difficult to do, especially in larger organisations, with the result that the few successful cases brought have mainly involved small businesses.
Under the proposed new legislation, instead of prison sentences for managers found to be guilty, the businesses themselves would face an unlimited fine if their senior managers permitted a ‘gross breach of any duty of care’ which led to a death.
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