It’s not just corporate manslaughter ... don’t forget individuals can be prosecuted too!

The change in law relating to corporate manslaughter has, of course, been in the news for quite some time. Even so, there has only been one successful prosecution and that did not really shed any light on how the law is be interpreted. A subsequent application by the company for permission to appeal both the conviction and the fine was unsuccessful. A second corporate manslaughter prosecution is presently moving through the courts. 

It is often the case that both the company is prosecuted and an individual, the latter facing a charge of gross negligence manslaughter. An unusual situation has arisen recently, however, when an individual but not the company was prosecuted in relation to the death of a young girl who was killed when a wall collapsed on a public footpath. The wall was erected by the company, and indeed designed by them as well, but it is only facing health and safety charges. One of the company directors, however, has been charged with gross negligence manslaughter on account of his role in designing and constructing the wall that collapsed. 

The Crown Prosecution Service have stated that whilst there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the company for corporate manslaughter it determined that it was not in the public interest to do so. Whilst it is not possible to know the full thinking of the Crown Prosecution Service, because the company only has two directors and the charged director was the only one involved in this incident, the Crown Prosecution Service have on the face of it taken the view that it is more appropriate to prosecute an individual rather than the corporate entity. 

This unusual situation demonstrates quite clearly that the law in relation to individual manslaughter, which was not altered at the time the new corporate manslaughter law was introduced, is still very much capable of being used against an individual in a health and safety context when unfortunately a death occurs. It also shows that an individual manslaughter charge need not run in tandem with one of corporate manslaughter.

Posted on: 07/10/2011

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

Back to News articles
Back to News articles

Sign up to email news

Sign up to receive email updates and regular legal news from Rollits LLP.

Sign up