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Tougher sentencing proposed for corporate manslaughter

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Businesses convicted of corporate manslaughter could face fines of more than £20m under newly published penalty guidelines. 

The Sentencing Council is considering whether companies found guilty of corporate manslaughter – as well as health and safety and food hygiene offences – should receive fines proportionate to the size and turnover of the company.

This could mean sums running into tens of millions for the largest corporations.

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive for 2013/14 reveal that 133 people were killed at work and 70 people were injured in work-related accidents.

However, only four firms have been convicted of corporate manslaughter since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007.

The Sentencing Council hopes that harsher penalties, which have just been put out to consultation, will help create a more consistent approach to sentencing.

“Fines should be big enough to have a real economic impact which will bring home to the offending organisation the importance of achieving a safe environment for those affected by its activities,” state the draft proposals.

Michael Caplan QC, a member of the Sentencing Council, added: “We want to ensure that these crimes don’t pay.  They can have extremely serious consequences and businesses that put people at risk by flouting their responsibilities are undercutting those that play by the rules and do their best to keep people safe.”

HR professionals should be aware of the difference between the expertise of a corporate lawyer and a crime lawyer who is accustomed to prepping people for trial by jury, should the worst happen in their workplace. At Lester Morrill, our solicitors have the specialist knowledge to represent companies facing these charges. To find out more about how we can help, contact us today.