Legal advice: Corporate manslaughter

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Are you aware that an offence of corporate manslaughter will come into law on April 6 next year?The Corporate Manslaughter Act sets out a new offence...

Are you aware that an offence of corporate manslaughter will come into law on April 6 next year?

The Corporate Manslaughter Act sets out a new offence for convicting an organisation where a gross failure in the way activities were managed or organised results in a person's death.

When a prosecution is brought for corporate manslaughter, the courts will look at management systems and practices across the organisation.

Organisations will have to have shown a gross breach of their duty of care to the deceased for the case to be brought.

Where a case of corporate manslaughter is proved, organisations will be liable to an unlimited fine.

The court will also be able to impose a Publicity Order on the organisation, requiring them to publicise details of its conviction and the fine it has received.

Should publicans be worried?

Yes and no! Yes, if you have a partnership, limited liability partnership, private or public company. No, if you are a sole trader - that is, have a "corporation sole".

Why should I be worried?

Because if there is a fatality on your premises to either a member of staff, customer, visitor or other contractor you will be investigated for corporate manslaughter offences as well as offences against other laws.

What should I be doing before April 2008?

Reviewing all your health and safety practices, your food safety procedures and fire safety management system to ensure they are up to date, reflect the hazards and risks associated with your business and contain all the control measures, guidance and best practice procedures necessary to ensure you operate your business safely.

The justice minister has said that businesses should see the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act as an opportunity to make sure that they have proper arrangements in place for managing health and safety.

So act now! Don't leave it until April 5, 2008.


Pat Perry is executive chairman of Perry Scott Nash Associates, an environmental health consultancy specialising in health & safety, food safety, fire safety, disability discrimination and other legal compliance issues. It has a wide client base in the hospitality industry and can help with audits, policies, enforcement and legal issues, special projects, trading standards etc.

Contact Perry Scott Nash on 01438 745771, email or online at the address in the right hand column

Related topics Legislation

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