The offence of corporate manslaughter is defined under Section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The offence is committed when an organisation to which the section applies manages or organises its activities in a way that causes a person’s death and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.
Whilst the offence is called “corporate manslaughter”, the organisations whose conduct may be covered by the offence include a corporation, a police force, a partnership or a trade union or employer’s association that is an employer, and a number of Government departments, some of which are listed below.
The Government departments covered by this legislation include the Attorney General’s office, the Cabinet office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, The Department for Education, The Department for Transport, The Department for the Environment, The Department for Work & Pensions, The Department for Health, the Forestry Commission, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, The Treasury, The Home Office, The Ministry of Defence and The Ministry of Justice amongst many others.
A relevant duty of care in relation to an organisation means a duty owed by it under the law of negligence to its employees or other persons working for the organisation, a duty owed as an occupier of premises or a duty in connection with the supply by the organisation of goods or services, the carrying on by the organisation of any construction or maintenance operations, the carrying on by the organisation of any other activity on a commercial basis or the use or keeping by the organisation of any plant, vehicle or other thing. A relevant duty of care may also be owed to a person who is someone for whose safety the organisation is responsible.
It is clear that corporate manslaughter is an extremely serious offence. The maximum penalty on conviction for corporate manslaughter is an unlimited fine. A conviction for corporate manslaughter would have a devastating effect on the commercial activities of any business. The level of fine likely to be imposed on conviction is likely to have a devastating effect on the financial affairs of the organisation in question. The provisions of the above Act are extremely complex and defending cases of this nature requires a detailed and methodical approach to the allegation and the evidence upon which the prosecution will rely to prove that allegation.
At Freeman & Co. our team of specialist criminal solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with serious crime matters, where attention to detail is crucial. It is essential that any organisation being investigated for this offence or charged with this offence has the best representation as early as possible in the proceedings. By instructing Freeman & Co. you will ensure that you have a team of solicitors who will adopt a root and branch approach to the evidence and will offer the best advice and guidance to those organisations accused of this offence.
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