Scottish companies that cause death to have finances probed

Scottish companies found guilty of causing workplace deaths will no longer be able to avoid fines by ‘claiming poverty’, under a proposed new Bill amendment in Scotland.

A decision by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to accept an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill could mean that Courts in the country will soon be able to order background checks on convicted companies’ finances.

Under the current system, companies present their own report on the state of their finances.

Dr Bill Wilson MSP (West of Scotland, SNP), who proposed the amendment, said:

‘I trust the Bill will become law and my amendment with it. This is long overdue. My research showed that companies found criminally responsible for killing people in Scotland were being fined £12,500 or less in 50% of cases. A significant contributing factor to this is the fact that courts have no power to order independent inquiries into companies’ finances.”

He added:

“It strikes me as ridiculous that we rely on convicted companies to provide the reports which will influence the level of fine. It is the equivalent of a judge sternly wagging his finger at a convicted housebreaker and saying, ‘You are a terribly naughty fellow. Now please tell me how much of a fine you can afford to pay?’