CDM 2015 has received its fair share of publicity. Less highlighted, so far, are the potential changes to the penalties for offences under the CDM Regulations. Section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, now in force, gives magistrates the power to impose unlimited fines for certain offences, including those relating to health and safety. The Sentencing Council, the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines for courts, has undertaken a consultation on its draft guidelines for sentencing health and safety (and other) offences.
The guidelines include tables of starting points and ranges for fines for health and safety offences, depending on culpability. For example, for large organisations (with turnover of £50million or more), the draft sets out a range of fines for very high culpability and harm category 1, from £2.6million to £10million, with a starting point of £4million. For individuals, the range of sentences for deliberate action and harm category 1 is from 1 to 2 years’ custody with a starting point of 18 months’ custody. Once the guidelines have been revised, now that the consultation is over, final guidelines are to be published and used by all adult courts.