Osborn Word of the Week: Corporate Manslaughter

1 comment, posted on March 13, 2013

Corporate Manslaughter Under the common law a company may be guilty of manslaughter by an unlawful act or gross negligence, but only if the company is identified with an individual guilty of the offence. See AG’s Reference No.2 of 1999


REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

However, the common law offence of manslaughter by gross negligence is abolished in its application to corporations by the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 s.20. Under s.1 of the Act an organisation to which the section applies is guilty of an offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death, and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased. A breach of a duty of care by an organisation is a ‘‘gross’’ breach if the conduct alleged to amount to a breach of that duty falls far below what can reasonably be expected of the organisation in the circumstances. The organisations to which the section applies include corporations, police forces and partnerships, trade unions and employers’ associations, that are employers. An organisation is guilty of an offence under s.1 only if the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach of duty.

An organisation that is guilty of corporate manslaughter is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine. The offence of corporate homicide is indictable only in the High Court of Justiciary.

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