The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCHA 2007) is a landmark law that allows corporate bodies to be prosecuted for manslaughter if their regulatory breach/es results in death.
As a corporate manslaughter lawyer, I understand the reputational and financial damage that a corporate manslaughter conviction can impose. Therefore, I will advise and represent your organisation from the beginning; helping you deal with questions from the police, regulatory enforcement officers, and the media. At the same time, I will collate evidence and build a robust defence should prosecution occur. You can be confident that I will handle your matter with skill and tenacity whilst maintaining compassion for the family of the victim/s and traumatised employees.
When is a company guilty of corporate manslaughter?
To prove corporate manslaughter, the Prosecution must show:
- the way in which the company organised or managed its activities caused the victim’s death;
- the victim’s death resulted from a gross breach of the duty of care the company owed to him or her; and
- the way in which senior management ran the company was a substantial element of the breach.
What is meant by ‘gross breach’?
A gross breach is a breach that falls significantly below the duty of care expected of a company faced with the same circumstances. When deciding whether acts or omissions constitute a ‘gross breach’, the jury must consider:
- whether the company was in breach of health and safety laws
- the seriousness of the management failure
- the risk that death could occur
The jury may also consider other factors such as whether there were any particular practices within the organisation which may have led to the breach occurring.
What are the penalties for Corporate Manslaughter?
The offence of corporate manslaughter is only triable in the Crown Court. The burden of proof is on the Prosecution, which must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the company is guilty.
In February 2010, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) published the definitive Sentencing Guidelines Council: Corporate Manslaughter and Health and Safety Offences Causing Death. This sets out the guidelines the Court should use when deciding an appropriate sentence for a corporate manslaughter offence.
Under the guidelines, the Court will consider the following questions when sentencing for a corporate manslaughter offence:
- how foreseeable was the serious injury?
- how bad was the breach?
- has there been a history of similar breaches?
- how far up the organisation does the breach go?
The Court will then identify any particular aggravating or mitigating circumstances, as follows:
- aggravating factors –including if there is more than one death, failure to heed warnings/advice, cost-cutting at the expense of safety and deliberate failure to obtain/comply with relevant licences and injury to vulnerable persons; and
- mitigating factors – including prompt acceptance of responsibility, a high level of co-operation with the investigation, genuine efforts to remedy the defect, a good safety record, a responsible attitude to safety, such as the commissioning of expert advice or the consultation of employees or others affected by the organisation’s activities.
As well as handing down a fine, the Court can order an organisation to publish the details of the corporate manslaughter conviction. They can also make a Remedial Order, requiring the company to take steps to remedy the identified management failures.
Fines for corporate manslaughter can be ruinous; therefore, it is essential to take the advice of an experienced criminal barrister to ensure any mitigating factors are presented clearly and persuasively to the Court.
When you instruct me, you can have confidence that I will be on your side and will uncover every mitigating factor and piece of evidence that supports your case. As a corporate manslaughter lawyer, I leave nothing to chance and will work around the clock to get you a positive result.