The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide act was introduced in 2007 with the aim of making it easier to prosecute organisations in the case of death of employees. The aim of the act was to remove the difficulty of identifying the specific individuals responsible. The new law is aimed towards organisations, companies and various other bodies, but not at individual directors or employees. Bibby Consulting & Support has found the first prosecution under the new law very interesting. Firstly the company is being prosecuted for corporate manslaughter, and the company’s Managing Director was also being prosecuted under a charge of gross-negligence manslaughter. However, subsequently the case against the Managing Director has since been dropped due to his on-going ill health. Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd is the first company to be prosecuted under the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. This followed an incident on 5 September 2008, when an employee, collecting geological samples from a construction site, was killed after the sides of the trench he was in collapsed. An organisation is guilty of corporate manslaughter if the way its activities are managed causes someone’s death or shows a gross breach of duty of care owed. An organisation can also be deemed guilty under the act, if its senior management also plays a substantial part in the breech. As Alan Millband, Head of Business Defence Services for Bibby Consulting & Support explains: “The debate on what constitutes “senior management” is likely to rage on after the case against Cotswold comes to an end. Because Cotswold is a small company, who is or isn’t a senior manager should be reasonably clear. It’s highly unlikely that the Judge will be drawn into what might constitute “senior management” in a larger, more complex organisation.” Bibby Consulting & Support would advise that businesses implement and adopt excellent and robust health and safety systems and procedures. Against that background a work-related fatal accident is far less likely to occur – but if it did, it is unlikely to be attributable to any gross negligence by senior management. That means the organisation won’t be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter; and senior managers won’t face manslaughter charges. “What is vital is that employers do not assume that the case against Cotswold’s Managing Director has been dropped because it was inherently poor; or that it isn’t really appropriate to prosecute senior management for manslaughter,” says Alan Millband. “The discontinuance has resulted from unusual circumstances relevant to an alleged offender’s health and does not set any precedent. The charge of corporate manslaughter against Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd continues. And the next prosecutions are waiting in the wings – you can rely on it.” For more information regarding Bibby Consulting & Support please contact Katy Vaughan on 08453 100600 or visit the website on - ENDS - High resolution image to support this release: click here


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