Corporate Homicide Act 2007
The Government's Sentencing Advisory Panel, (SAP), has proposed that those found guilty of the new offence of corporate manslaughter which comes into force on April 6 th , be fined 10% of their annual turnover.
At the launch of a consultation on the new offence they propose that courts should also impose a publicity order on every organisation convicted of the offence to advertise the fact of its conviction.
The order might require publicity on television and local or national press, in trade press and in letters to shareholders or customers!
The SAP - an independent body sponsored by the Ministry of Justice that advises the sentencing guidelines council – believes that comprehensive guidelines are required because Corporate Manslaughter is a new offence and courts will be unfamiliar with publicity orders which are an entirely new sanction in England and Wales.
Under the corporate Manslaughter Act, courts may also impose an unlimited fine along with a publicity and remedial order. The SAP argues that a fine under the Corporate Manslaughter Act should be at a level which is significantly larger than that for an offence under the Health and Safety At Work Act involving death.
For a first offence of corporate manslaughter where the defendant has pleaded not guilty, the SAP proposes a starting point of 5% of annual turnover based on an average taken over three years. After taking into account any mitigating factors the SAP argue that the courts should ultimately arrive at a figure somewhere between 2.5% and 10% 0f turnover or more if there are previous convictions.
To put this into perspective in 2005, Transco were fined £15 million for health and safety breaches which led to the deaths of four members of a family in a gas explosion. To date, this is the largest ever fine imposed under health and safety legislation but represents less that 1% of the company's annual turnover.
The consultation document can be downloaded here