New Definitive Sentencing Guidelines for Health & Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety

1 February 2016 will see one of the biggest changes in the landscape of health and safety sentencing for a number of decades.

Many large businesses subject to prosecution for health and safety offences will see the fines that would previously have been imposed rocket into the millions rather than the tens of thousands.This is a change that the Sentencing Council are hoping will ensure that it is no longer cheaper for a business to cut corners and run the risk of prosecution then it is for them to comply with their legal duties.

The new sentencing guidelines apply to health and safety offences, instances of Corporate Manslaughter and breaches of food safety legislation.  The guidelines apply to a variety of offences from minor accidents in the workplace to accidents resulting in death.

The guidelines introduce a new "stepped approach" to the sentencing of these offences which will be applied consistently by the Courts.  Previously there was very little guidance for those sentencing organisations where, for instance, very serious and life changing injuries had resulted from an accident.  The new "stepped approach" involves an assessment of an organisation's culpability together with the risk of harm caused by the failing concerned.

Sentences are to be imposed proportionately based on an organisation's turnover.  This means that large companies (i.e. those with a turnover of £50 million and over), in situations when an accident results in serious injury, will see the Court working from a starting point of upwards of £750,000 to £1,000,000 when determining what level of fine to impose.

Awareness of the implications of the guidelines is vital for all organisations.  The Regulatory Team at Rollits will be holding a free breakfast seminar about the introduction of the guidelines on 25 February 2016.  To register your interest in the seminar, please email Pat Coyle at

Posted on: 30/11/2015

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.

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