The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act has received royal assent.
From 6 April 2008, organisations whose gross corporate failures in health and safety lead to the death of individuals will face prosecution for manslaughter and an unlimited fine.
Proving corporate fault rather than identifying an individual for blame, as was previously necessary under common law, means that the new act is expected to make it easier to prosecute organisations. However, the new legislation does require the prosecution to prove the failure came substantially from a senior management level.
Roy Thornley, an independent corporate risk consultant who specialises in gross negligence manslaughter, said: “It [the Act] should heighten awareness at a boardroom level and promote a better health and safety culture within an organisation.”†
He added that employers should ensure they are fully compliant with existing health and safety law in preparation.