New Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Legislation live on April 6th

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act came into force on 6th April 2007. This piece of Legislation doesn’t impose any new duties or responsibilities on employers, these duties are already owed in the Civil Law of Negligence.

This Act introduces a new offence based on the Civil Law of Negligence, to deal with gross failures in the way health, fire & safety activities are managed or organised within any corporate body which results in the death of a person(s).

An organisation will be guilty of this new offence if the way its risks and activities are managed or organised causes a death and amounts to a gross breach of a duty of care to the deceased. A substantial part of the failure within the organisation must have been at senior level.

Gross Breach – the organisation’s conduct must have fallen far below what could have been reasonably expected. This will include any health & safety breaches, and how serious and dangerous those failures were.

Senior Level – means the people who make significant decisions about the organisation, or substantial parts of it. This will include both centralised, headquarters functions as well as operational management roles.

Penalties – any organisation guilty of this offence will be liable to an unlimited fine. The Act also provide for Courts to impose a publicity order, requiring the organisation to publicise details of its conviction and fine. Courts may also require an organisation to take immediate steps to address the failures behind the death; this is known as a remedial order.

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