Employment Law | Third Corporate Manslaughter Fine

A company from Hyde has just become only the third company to be convicted in the UK under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act since it came into force in 2008.

An employee of the company was fatally injured after an accident on 28 May 2008 when he fell 13 metres to the floor through a fibreglass roof light at Hyde in Cheshire, while carrying out a roof repair.

The Crown Prosection Service (CPS had originally charged three of firm’s directors with gross negligence manslaughter and a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, brought by virtue of Section 37 of the Act, through their neglect or connivance as directors.

However, the judge separated consideration of these charges from the corporate killing indictment because the employee died only seven weeks after the Act came into force on 6 April 2008 and the Act was not retrospective.

Judge Gilbart said he believed the requirement for the court to consider the directors’ actions before 6 April 2008 for the individual charges but not for the corporate charge would have resulted in “directions to the jury of baffling complexity”.

The first case to be brought under the Act saw the business involved receive a fine of £285,000; the second case was in Northern Ireland and saw a fine of £187,500 issued.  This latest case has seen the Hyde company receive a fine of £480,000.

According to the Act, an organisation will be guilty of an offence if a fatality is caused by a gross breach of a relevant duty of care and where the way that the organisation’s activities were organised or managed by its senior managers was a substantial element of the breach.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London