The UK Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 creates a new offence of corporate manslaughter in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and corporate homicide in Scotland.
Companies, organisations and government bodies can be prosecuted if they are found to have caused death due to gross corporate health and safety failures. Appropriate systems, policies and processes need to be put in place to ensure companies are protected.
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 intends to make it easier to prosecute companies for negligence which leads to a death in the workplace. Previously, companies could only be convicted of manslaughter if a 'directing mind' (such as a director) at the top of the company was also personally liable.
The Act does not introduce any new regulatory standards, and relies on compliance with existing health and safety legislation.
Under the Act, health and safety legislation means "any statutory provision dealing with health and safety matters" so it will include transport (road, rail, river, sea, air) food safety and workplace safety as enforced by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities.
Power of jury
Juries will be required to consider breaches of health and safety legislation in determining liability of companies and other corporate bodies for corporate manslaughter/homicide. Juries may also consider whether a company or organisation has taken account of any appropriate health and safety guidance and the extent to which the evidence shows that there were attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices within the organisation that were likely to have encouraged any such serious management failure or have produced tolerance of it.
- Ministry of Justice
Investigations and prosecution
The police will investigate suspected cases of corporate manslaughter/homicide. Prosecutions will be instigated by
- Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales),
Role of health and safety regulators
As now, there will be a joint approach to work-related deaths between all the relevant regulatory authorities, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in line with the principles of the Work Related Deaths Protocol.
Directors, board members or other individuals
The offence is concerned with corporate liability and does not apply to directors or other individuals who have a senior role in the company or organisation. However, existing health and safety offences and gross negligence manslaughter will continue to apply to individuals. Prosecutions against individuals will continue to be taken where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.
Penalties will include unlimited fines, remedial orders and publicity orders. A remedial order will require a company or organisation to take steps to remedy any management failure that led to a death. The court can also impose an order requiring the company or organisation to publicise that it has been convicted of the offence, giving the details, the amount of any fine imposed and the terms of any remedial order made.