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Corporate Manslaughter

 

Corporate manslaughter is a criminal offence in the UK. It was first acknowledged in 1965, when a court found that a company could be guilty of causing a person’s death.

Under common law, in order for a company to be guilty of corporate manslaughter, an individual director had to be identified as the “controlling mind” of the company; the offence had to be attributable to a senior individual before it could be attributable to the company.

The responsibility for the health and safety of employees is usually distributed throughout a company and therefore the directors often could successfully argue that there was not a single “controlling mind”. The offence could not be committed on the basis of several directors each having a small proportion of blame.

The law is now governed by the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The Act was introduced in order to remove the “controlling mind” element from corporate manslaughter so that more companies could be prosecuted for their crimes.

The offence is now committed when a company owes a duty to take reasonable care for a person’s safety but the way in which their business is “managed or organised” amounts to a gross breach of that duty and results in death.

A company can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter regardless of whether an individual senior member can be identified as the “controlling mind”.

Individual directors can still be prosecuted for safety offences alongside corporate manslaughter proceedings, and the number of offences for which they can go to jail has been increased under the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008.

If you would like to obtain criminal legal advice, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist criminal solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local criminal solicitors please call us on 0800 046 1464 or complete the web-form above.
 

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