Corporate Manslaughter And Corporate Homicide Act 2007 

Before the introduction of this new act, a company could still be convicted of ’manslaughter’, however there were specific areas that had to be proved by the prosecution to obtain a conviction
Firstly, a ‘Company’ is a legal entity in its own right, though it has no real ‘human’ component. So since a company acts through its Directors, Managers and staff, in order to convict a company of manslaughter it must be shown that a causal link existed between a grossly negligent act or omission made by a person who is the “controlling mind” of the company and the immediate cause of death.
Now this is not always easy to prove, so it assumes that the acts of certain Directors or Senior Managers of the company can be regarded as those of the company itself. So it must be proved that those individuals who have the powers of the company have acted in a grossly negligent manner
There are occasions within companies where the Board has delegated part of their functions of management, and given full independent discretion to Senior individuals. In those circumstances, the individual concerned would be considered as the ‘controlling mind’ rather than the Directors
So prior to the new Corporate Manslaughter Act, the prosecution would need to prove that an act, or omission, by a controlling officer created dangerous situations that lead to the death of an individual
The new Act reduces the process and so, as from 6th April 2008, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 applies to a huge range of organisations
In summary, the new Act makes an Organisation guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised -
causes a person’s death, and
amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.
Importantly, the meaning of “relevant duty of care” means any of the following duties owed by it under the law of negligence -
a duty owed to its employees or to other persons working for the organisation or performing services for it (so this includes contractors on the premises)

a duty owed as occupier of premises (even to those without permission to be there)

a duty owed in connection with –
the supply of goods or services (whether paid for or free),
any construction or maintenance operations,
any other activity on a commercial basis, or
the use or keeping of any plant, vehicle or other thing;
Now that covers pretty much any activity!
Should the company be found guilty there will be a new power to order the conviction to be publicised through what is known as a “publicity order”, requiring the organisation to publicise in a specified manner:
the fact that the Organisation has been convicted of the offence;
specified particulars of the offence;
the amount of any fine imposed;
the terms of any ’remedial order’ made.
Not good for business as we are sure you will agree!
The new Act allows for UNLIMITED FINES against the organisation and the conviction for corporate manslaughter does NOT prevent individuals being convicted for a health and safety offence on the same facts. It will remain possible to convict an individual on a
secondary basis for such an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Section 37. So although the new Act does not impose any new liabilities on an individual, neither does it remove or reduce existing liabilities
Remedial orders require an organisation to address deficiencies in health and safety management that lie behind the relevant breach of duty, where the management failure was related to inadequate Risk Assessment or poor Monitoring Procedures
Just in case you were thinking that the solution was to cease as a Limited Company, the new Act treats a partnership in exactly the same way and states that whatever duties of care it would owe, if it were a body corporate, must be applied in the same manner.

Bill Devey - Honest Employment Law Practice  



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