In part 1 and in part 2 we looked at The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act and how applies to organisations which cause a person’s death or exhibit a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed to the deceased.
Here we will explore the penalties and sentencing . As always, this is for information only and does not constitute legal advice. We are always happy to give personal and detailed advice, just give us a call on 01224 900025.
The penalties include fines, compensation orders, remedial orders and publicity orders.
Fines – unlimited. Unlimited fines are already available to the courts for HSWA offences, however the main difference here is the guidance. It suggests the fine should be in the region of 2.5 – 10% of turnover for Corporate Homicide.
Remedial orders mean a company has to do something or take certain steps or to use specific equipment. It is very similar to improvement/prohibition notices.
Publicity orders give the court the power to order that a company publicise in a specified manner the fact that they have been convicted of the offence. This may include the particulars of the offence, details of the fine and the terms of any orders made. This could mean taking out an advert in a paper or on the television.
In one recent case, a publicity order resulted in an advert being taken out in the trade press, rather than in local papers or on the company’s own website. The publication of this advert had an untold effect on the reputation of the company and undoubtedly resulted in a significant loss of orders.
Failure to comply with an order could result in a criminal offence and a fine. This offence would be on indictment, so it would be taken seriously.
All the sentencing guidelines that have been produced to date are applicable solely in England and Wales; that said they would be thought of as highly influential in the Scottish Courts.
We have very little judicial precedent under the act to assist in the decision-making. In the Scottish Courts, they will probably be asked to consider fines that have been imposed under the common law offence Culpable Homicide / Gross Negligence Manslaughter.
New Sentencing Guidelines in the form of ‘The Sentencing Council definitive guideline for health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety and hygiene offences’ came into force on 1 February 2016 in England and Wales. As expected, the guidelines confirm that a dramatic increase in fines for such offences must be anticipated. As a consequence, therefore, large companies can expect fines of around £10million for the most serious breaches of H&S law.
This is the final part of our Breaking Down the Law: Corporate Homicide blog series. To catch up on parts one and two please click here.