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 hasonly been one successful prosecution and that did not really shedany light on how the law is be interpreted. A subsequentapplication by the company for permission to appeal both theconviction and the fine was unsuccessful. A second corporatemanslaughter prosecution is presently moving through thecourts.
It is often the case that both the company is prosecuted andan individual, the latter facing a charge of gross negligencemanslaughter. An unusual situation has arisen recently, however,when an individual but not the company was prosecuted in relationto the death of a young girl who was killed when a wall collapsedon a public footpath. The wall was erected by the company, andindeed designed by them as well, but it is only facing health andsafety charges. One of the company directors, however, has beencharged with gross negligence manslaughter on account of his rolein designing and constructing the wall thatcollapsed.
The Crown Prosecution Service have stated that whilst therewas sufficient evidence to prosecute the company for corporatemanslaughter it determined that it was not in the public interestto do so. Whilst it is not possible to know the full thinking ofthe Crown Prosecution Service, because the company only has twodirectors and the charged director was the only one involved inthis incident, the Crown Prosecution Service have on the face of ittaken the view that it is more appropriate to prosecute anindividual rather than the corporate entity.
This unusual situation demonstrates quite clearly that thelaw in relation to individual manslaughter, which was not alteredat the time the new corporate manslaughter law was introduced, isstill very much capable of being used against an individual in ahealth and safety context when unfortunately a death occurs. Italso shows that an individual manslaughter charge need not run intandem with one of corporate manslaughter.
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.