Following the deaths of four miners in September 2011, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that the mining company which owned the colliery will face four charges of corporate manslaughter. This is only the fifth prosecution to be brought under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 since the legislation was introduced.
MNS Mining Ltd will face the corporate manslaughter charges following a police investigation into the deaths of four men at the Gleision Colliery in Wales on 15 September 2011. The manager of the mine, Malcolm Fyfield, will also face charges on four counts of gross-negligence manslaughter.
The CPS allege that the way in which the activities at the site were managed by the senior management resulted in the company’s failure to ensure a safe system of working. It is alleged that this failure amounts to a gross breach of a duty of care owed by the company to the miners, and ultimately caused the deaths of the four workers.
Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 an organisation can be found guilty of an offence if a fatality is caused by a gross breach of a relevant duty of care, and if the senior management in the company organised its activities in a way that formed a substantial element of that breach. Conviction can result in unlimited fine levels, with Guidance on the Act marking a general starting point for fines at £500,000.
In December we announced that a company in Norfolk had become the subject of the fourth prosecution under the legislation (see link here) in a case that is still ongoing. Prior to this, only three successful convictions have been brought across the UK under these relatively new laws. The levels of the fines imposed to date have been significantly less than the £500,000 starting-guide.
The case against MNS Mining Ltd called at Cardiff Magistrates Court on Friday 1 February 2013, where it was remitted to Swansea Crown Court. The first hearing at the Crown Court will take place on 11 February 2013.