On 17 February, Cotswold Geotechnical Holding (Cotswold) became the first company to be convicted and sentenced under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (the Act). It was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and fined £385,000. Cotswold was prosecuted following an accident involving one of its employees, who died whilst investigating soil conditions in an unsupported trench which then collapsed on him.
The fine of £385,000 is below the £500,000 which the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) recommends for cases of corporate manslaughter, but was considered a significant sum bearing in mind the size and turnover of Cotswold. Under the Act, companies can be subject to unlimited fines, and the SGC states that fines for corporate manslaughter "may be measured in millions of pounds". It is therefore likely that larger and more complex companies convicted of this offence would face fines well in excess of £385,000.