New offense called “corporate manslaughter” in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and “corporate homicide” in Scotland has been created for prosecuting companies and other organizations where there has been a gross failing, throughout the organization, in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences.
The offense can be brought against a company or other unincorporated organization where the death of a person arises from the way that an organization has managed it”s activities, and amounts to a gross breach of duty to take reasonable care for that person”s safety, and will face an unlimited fine.
The prosecution of a corporate body for manslaughter by gross negligence is not new, but to secure a conviction under S-37 of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASWA), the prosecutor had to demonstrate a failure on the part of the organization”s “controlling mind” where a common law duty was owed to a person which resulted in death. Senior management as defined by the Act will be the target for the new offense as those persons who play a significant role in decisions made in how an organization is managed. The personal liability of senior managers will remain unchanged under HASWA as a recent case of a managing director and sole shareholder of a company who was jailed for nine months and the company with an £11m turnover was fined £75,000 and was ordered to pay £89,000 costs.