Following the successful conviction of Cotswold Geotechnical (Holdings) earlier this year (see my previous blog - Company Guilty Of Corporate Manslaughter) in the first case under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service have instructed Greater Manchester Police to charge Lion Steel Ltd in the second prosecution of its kind.

The company will be charged with corporate manslaughter and three directors of the company are charged with gross negligence manslaughter. Both the company and the directors are also charged with offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The prosecution follows the tragic death of an employee following a fall through a fragile roof panel at an industrial estate.

The offence of corporate manslaughter (called corporate homicide in Scotland) was introduced to over come difficulties that prosecutors faced in meeting the common law requirement that the “directing mind” of a company had to be identifiable in cases where a company was charged with gross negligence manslaughter (or culpable homicide in Scotland). The new legislation directs that a company is guilty where its “senior management” play a significant part in the breach of duty.  

The first conviction under the new legislation involved a small company with only one director and gave the court very little difficulty in identifying the “senior management”. This second case involves a slightly larger organisation and it will be interesting to see how the court applies the legislation in a case where three directors are alleged to have been involved in the breach of duty.  

The first hearing in the case is to take place on 2 August and the progress of this prosecution will be one to watch.