The Sentencing Council state that they have produced the draft guidelines in response to criticism that fines were too low, and that there was no guidance in relation to what fine should be set. As a result, if adopted, the proposed guidelines indicate that there will be a significant increase in the levels of fines imposed for these offences.
The guidelines set out the factors to be considered when imposing a fine, the seriousness of the offence, the category of the offence (determined by the degree of culpability and the risk of harm), with a range of possible fines set for each category dependent upon the size of the organisation’s turnover from a micro organisation with a turnover of less than £2m to a very large organisation with a turnover greatly in excess of £50m. In cases of corporate manslaughter involving such large organisations which are considered to involve serious failures, the maximum fine noted in that category is £20m. There is provision for the court to consider mitigating factors (such as a good previous health and safety record or a high level of cooperation with the investigation) and aggravating factors (previous enforcement history or the commission of the offence for financial gain) in order to review whether or not the individual case should fall outside the range outlined.
In addition to consideration of these factors, the guidelines call for much closer scrutiny of the accounts of the organisation, so that adjustments upwards (if the profits or drawings/remuneration of the directors justify an increase) or downwards can be made if appropriate.
A copy of the consultation can be found here.