The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 applies to companies (whether incorporated in the UK or overseas), public bodies, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, Crown bodies and the police force.
Recently, the Ministry of Justice published its guide to the new Act, the main points of which are summarised below.
- For the new offence to apply, the organisation must have owed a “relevant duty of care” to the victim. For example, an employer has an existing duty to ensure that worksites are safe and that health and safety procedures are followed. The Act does not create any new obligations.
- It will be possible to secure a conviction if an offence takes place where there has been a gross breach of a relevant duty of care, and where this lay in the way the organisation’s activities were managed or organised.
- The offences of corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide are intended to be reserved for the very worst cases of corporate mismanagement which lead to death.
- A substantial part of the failing must have occurred at a senior management level and the mismanagement must have fallen far below the level of management that could have reasonably been expected. “Senior management” are those people who make significant decisions about the organisation or substantial parts of it.
- Penalties for those organisations convicted of this offence will be:
- a fine for which there is no upper limit. Fines will reflect the size of the offender and scale of the offence;
- a publicity order requiring the organisation to publicise its conviction and certain details of the offence; and
- a remedial order requiring the organisation to address the cause of the fatal injury.
The Act was given Royal Assent on 26 July 2007 and the majority of its provisions will come into force on 6 April 2008.