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2 April 2008

New manslaughter offence unlikely to apply to large companies for many years, says safety charity

Large companies are unlikely to be prosecuted for the new offence of Corporate Manslaughter for many years – even though deaths will have resulted from their serious management failures and will have met the new legal test.

This is because the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007  - which technically comes into effect after 6 April 2008 - contains strict retrospective clauses that mean not only must the death take place after 6 April 2008, but all the evidence supporting the allegation must also taken place after that date.

David Bergman, Executive Director of the CCA said:

“People have failed to recognise the significance of these clauses – and how they will delay this offence applying to deaths, even those which they are result of very serious management failings.

This will have a particular impact upon deaths involving large organisations which often involve evidence that goes back a number of years - relating to decisions taken long ago, or long-standing but poor systems of maintenance, training, or communication of information. It is ironic that it is these very organisations that were virtually immune from prosecution under the old law, and that the new law is designed to encompass. The new offence will only probably start applying to large organisation in relation to deaths that take place quite sometime after 2010.”

The clauses state that “anything done or omitted” relating to the allegation against the organisation must have taken place after 6 April 2008 in order for the offence to apply. “If any of the conduct or events alleged to constitute the offence occurred before”
the old common law offence will continue to apply.

The CCA is publishing new comprehensive guidance on the corporate manslaughter act on Monday 7 April 2008. Click here to read about obtained this

The Centre for Corporate Accountability is a human rights charity advising those bereaved from work-related deaths, and working on issues of safety, law enforcement and corporate accountability.

For Press Enquiries
Centre for Corporate Accountability

0207 490 4494
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Page last updated on April 3, 2008