Punitive fines for companies who cause death through gross breach of care

The Sentencing Guidelines Council has published a final definitive guideline on Corporate Manslaughter and Health and Safety offences which cause death.

Fines for companies and organisations found guilty of corporate manslaughter may be millions of pounds and should seldom be below £500,000 according to the SGC. For our health and safety offences that cause death, fines from £100,000 up to hundreds of thousands of pounds should be imposed.

The guidelines make clear that the financial circumstances of the offending organisation will be taken into account when setting the fine, but the court should not be influenced by the impact on shareholders and directors, nor consider the costs of complying with other sanctions. However, the effect on the employment of the innocent may be relevant, as may the effect on the provision of services to the public.

Andy Cave, Director and Business Defence solicitor at hc solicitors, advised: "We can't emphasise enough how important it is for a company who finds itself facing a corporate manslaughter or health and safety investigation to get early advice. We recommend that a company in these circumstances contacts a solicitor immediately and gets legal representation at all interviews during the investigation."

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.