Sentencing Guidelines for Corporate Manslaughter
Definitive guidance on corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences has now been issued by the Sentencing Guidelines Council. These are the first official guidelines relating to sentencing organisations rather than individuals for offences causing death.
The guidelines set out a number of factors which may be relevant when determining the level of fine for such offences, including the effect on the organisation’s innocent employees, the effect upon the provision of services to the public and whether the fine will have the effect of putting an organisation out of business. However, the guidelines state that in some bad cases putting the organisation out of business may be an acceptable consequence.
The level of fine must be punitive and sufficient to have an impact on the organisation. On conviction for corporate manslaughter it is considered that the appropriate fine will seldom be less than £500,000 and may be measured in millions of pounds, whilst for health and safety offences that have resulted in death, the appropriate fine will seldom be less than £100,000 and may be measured in hundreds of thousands of pounds or more.
It is confirmed in the guidelines that a publicity order should usually be imposed on a conviction for corporate manslaughter to punish the offender and to deter future offenders. Further, the guidelines provide that the court should consider the use of remedial orders to remedy any significant failings involved in the offence.
The first trial for corporate manslaughter under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 of Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, which will test the new legislation, commenced on 23 February 2010 but has been adjourned for 18 weeks.
Reviewed in 2015