TT Talk - New lawon Corporate Manslaughter in the United Kingdom

Maria Pittordis, Head of the Marine Personal Injury team at solicitorsHill Dickinson (London), reports that the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 will bring important changes to the law in the United Kingdom:

'Royal Assent has been obtained for the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. On 26 July 2007 the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice announced that Royal Assent had been granted to this very significant statute. Thus companies whose gross negligence leads to the death of individuals will now face prosecution for manslaughter, under what the Government is calling 'tough new legislation'. Companies, organisations and Government bodies now face an unlimited fine if they are found to have caused death due to, for example, gross corporate health and safety failure.

In brief, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007:

  • Will make it easier, by a more effective regime of corporate liability, to prosecute companies and other large organisations when gross failures in the management of health and safety lead to death;
  • Has removed a key obstacle to successful prosecution, such that both small and large companies can be held liable for manslaughter where gross failures in the management of health and safety cause death, not just health and safety violations;
  • Complements the current law under which individuals can be prosecuted for gross negligence,manslaughter and health and safety offences where there is direct evidence of their culpability. The Act builds on existing health and safety legislation, rather than imposing new regulations on business;
  • Removes Crown immunity from prosecution in this area. Thus Crown bodies will for the first time be liable to prosecution. The Act will apply to companies and other corporate bodies in both the public and private sectors, Government departments, police forces and also certain unincorporated bodies such as partnerships, where such are employers.

The Act comes into force on 6 April 2008, but the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice will issue further guidance for bodies affected by the Act beforehand.'

You can access the full text of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 under the following web link:

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2007/ukpga_20070019_en.pdf