The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 comes into force in April 2008. It creates a new offence of corporate manslaughter and the intention is that it will be easier to prosecute companies and other larger organisations where a corporate management failing has led to death.
As the law currently stands, before a company can be convicted of manslaughter, a "directing mind" of the organisation (that is, a senior individual who could be said to embody the company in his actions and decisions) also has to be guilty of an offence. Only smaller companies with hands-on directors have been convicted as in larger organisations safety decisions are not taken at board level and rarely by one individual.
Under the new legislation an organisation will be guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised it causes a persons death and it amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. For an organisation to be guilty the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management must be a "substantial element" in the gross breach.
For further information of the new provisions, including information on when a duty of care arises, what amounts to gross breach of duty and what is meant by senior management, access our more detailed analysis. Click to take note of the action you should be taking now to ensure your organisation will be compliant