Corporate Manslaughter Act

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The Corporate Manslaughter Act what does it mean?

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act was given Royal assent on 26 July 2007. The offence came into force on 6 April 2008 and is called corporate manslaughter in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and corporate homicide in Scotland.

Provisions in the Act which relate to publicity orders (see section 10 of the Act) will commence when sentencing guidelines are published. It is anticipated that this will be by Summer 2009.

Provisions in the Act which relate to the management of custody (see sections 2(1)(d) and 2(2) of the Act) will also come into force at a later stage. It is expected that the implementation period will be between 3-5 years

Corporate Manslaughter FAQ's

Are there any new duties or obligations under the Act?

There are no new duties or obligations under the Act, nor is the new offence part of health and safety law. It is, however, specifically linked to existing health and safety requirements. 

What do companies and organisations need to do to comply?

Companies and organisations that take their obligations under health and safety law seriously are not likely to be in breach of the new provisions. Nonetheless, companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed or organised by senior management.

Where does health and safety legislation come in?

Under the Act, health and safety legislation means “any statutory provision dealing with health and safety matters” so it will include transport (road, rail, river, sea, air) food safety and workplace safety as enforced by HSE and local authorities.

Juries will be required to consider breaches of health and safety legislation in determining liability of companies and other corporate bodies for corporate manslaughter/homicide. Juries may also consider whether a company or organisation has taken account of any appropriate health and safety guidance and the extent to which the evidence shows that there were attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices within the organisation that were likely to have encouraged any such serious management failure or have produced tolerance of it.

Who will investigate and prosecute under the new offence?

The police will investigate suspected cases of corporate manslaughter/homicide. Prosecution decisions will be made by the Crown Prosecution Service (England and Wales), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Scotland) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (Northern Ireland).

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