Make Sure You Know About the Corporate Manslaughter Act

Prosecutions under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (‘the Act’) have been on the rise since 2011. In fact, in 2012 alone, the number of prosecutions spiked by more than 40 per cent. Make sure you and your business do not contribute to this rising number.

Companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter (or homicide in Scotland) if the way in which their activities are managed or organised:

• Results in a person’s death; and
• Amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty owed to the deceased.

Penalties can range from unlimited fines to remedial and publicity orders. While the Act only applies to organisations, individuals such as directors and senior managers can still be individually prosecuted under common law for gross negligence manslaughter and a variety of health and safety offences.

The following are two recent cases involving corporate manslaughter.

MNS Mining Ltd

In September 2011, four miners were killed when a mine they were working in flooded. The mine, located in the Swansea Valley, was owned by MNS and was known to flood frequently. It is alleged that MNS caused the deaths of the four men because there was no safe system of working in place. The manager of the mine and MNS have each been charged with four counts of corporate manslaughter. Both the manager and company have pleaded not guilty, and a provisional trial date was set for 24 March 2014.

Lion Steel Ltd

A maintenance worker died when he fell 13 metres through a fibreglass rooflight to the factory floor while repairing a roof. Lion Steel Ltd was convicted under the Act, fined £480,000 and ordered to pay £84,000 in prosecution costs.

To avoid becoming the next company prosecuted under the Act, make sure that you are up to date on health and safety regulations, have a comprehensive health and safety policy, conduct regular risk assessments and provide adequate employee training. For more information on protecting your business against prosecution through the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, contact Bollington on 01625 854300 for risk management advice.