Government unveils proposals for new laws to prosecute companies found guilty of gross negligence on safety.

The government has today unveiled proposals for new laws to prosecute companies found guilty of gross negligence on safety in its draft corporate manslaughter bill.

The draft bill, announced in parliament yesterday, has now been published in full. Key points include:

  • It will no longer be necessary to find a single senior person guilty to convict a company of corporate manslaughter. The offence will look at overall management activity within an organization, making it easier to prosecute large firms where there is no clear ‘controlling mind.’
  • An organisation will be guilty of corporate manslaughter if there is gross failure to ensure safe working practices, or to maintain the safety of premises.
  • For the first time, Crown immunity will be lifted – meaning government departments and other public sector organizations can be held to account in the same way as organizations from the private sector.
  • If a company is found guilty of corporate manslaughter the penalty will be an unlimited fine.
Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “This government is committed to ensuring we have a criminal justice system that protects the public and puts victims first. The UK has a very strong health and safety record. This is not about changing standards or imposing extra burdens on business but supporting well managed companies by targeting those who are cutting costs and taking unjustified risks with people’s safety.”

“For too long the law has made it extremely difficult to bring to justice large companies whose management failure has resulted in death.”