This year has seen the first conviction of a company for corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Campaigners lobbied for many years for a statutory offence following failed convictions under the common law offence of manslaughter by gross negligence.
This case arose from the death of an employee who was collecting soil samples from a pit under excavation. It emerged that the company regularly ignored industry safety guidance and that the employee was left unsupervised at the time of his death. The company was convicted because its conduct was found to have caused the death of, and was a gross breach of its duty of care to, the employee. The company was given a reduced fine of £385,000 payable in instalments because of its dire financial situation.
The company in this case was very small with a single director. The Crown Prosecution Service has said that a number of prosecutions of more complex companies are in the pipeline.