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Could it be You? Corporate Manslaughter . Helen Devery BLM Manchester . Manslaughter cases. 226 deaths in 2002/03 235 deaths in 2003/04 Since 1992 253 referred to CPD 69 prosecutions 18 convictions. Disasters. Herald of Free Enterprise, 1987 Kings Cross fire, 1987 Piper Alpha, 1988

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could it be you corporate manslaughter

Could it be You?Corporate Manslaughter

Helen Devery

BLM Manchester

manslaughter cases
Manslaughter cases
  • 226 deaths in 2002/03
  • 235 deaths in 2003/04
  • Since 1992
    • 253 referred to CPD
    • 69 prosecutions
    • 18 convictions
  • Herald of Free Enterprise, 1987
  • Kings Cross fire, 1987
  • Piper Alpha, 1988
  • Southall rail crash, 1997
  • Paddington rail crash, 1999
  • Potters Bar, 2002
  • Morecambe Bay, 2004

No-one accountable for loss of life in

major disasters

hatfield 2000
Hatfield 2000
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Network Rail
  • Managers charged
current legislation
Current legislation

Corporate manslaughter

A company can only be convicted if a company

officer can be

  • Shown to be guilty of manslaughter himself and
  • Identified as the ‘controlling mind’ of the company
problem is one of
Problem is one of…
  • Identification

Of a director who is blameworthy

    • The so-called ‘guilty controlling mind’
  • Direct casual link

Between director’s area of responsibility and resultant death

identification problem
Identification problem

‘Where a corporation, through the controlling mind of one of its agents, does an act which fulfils the prerequisites of the crime of manslaughter, it is properly indictable for the crime of manslaughter’.

R v P&O European Ferries (Dover) Ltd

‘Unless an identified individual’s conduct,

characterisable as gross criminal negligence, can be attributed to the company, the company is not, in the present state of the common law, liable for manslaughter’.

Att. Gen. Ref No 2 of 1999

corporate killers
Corporate killers
  • Pete Kite, 1994
  • Stephen and Julie Bowles, 1999
  • Brian Dean, 2002
  • John Horner, 2003

Convicted because they were small

companies with an easily identifiable

controlling individual

peter kite managing director oll ltd 1994
Peter Kite (Managing Director, OLL Ltd) 1994
  • Ignored previous advice
  • British Canoe Union Guidelines were not followed
  • Inadequate supervision
john horner telgaard hardwood 2003
John Horner(Telgaard Hardwood) 2003
  • No safety policy
  • No risk assessments
  • No safe stacking procedure
combating the problem
Combating the problem?

‘A poisoned chalice’

  • Post of Health & Safety Director
  • Board members and the Health & Safety Policy

‘There is great public concern at the criminal law’s lack of success in convicting companies of manslaughter where a death has occurred due to gross negligence by the organisation as a whole’.

‘The law need to be clear and effective in order to secure public confidence and must bite properly on large corporations whose failure to set or maintain standards causes death. It is not targeted at conscientious companies that take their health & safety responsibilities seriously’.

David Blunkett, 21 May 2003

  • 1996 ‘Criminal Law, Involuntary Manslaughter’
    • The Law Commission
  • 2002 ‘Reforming the Law on Involuntary Manslaughter’
  • 2002 ‘Involuntary Manslaughter: Regulatory Impact Assessment’
    • The Home Office
proposed legislation
Proposed legislation

Corporate killing

  • A company will be convicted if it can be shown that:
    • A management failure caused the death; and
    • That failure constitutes conduct which fell ‘far’ below what could be reasonably expected
  • Problem of identification overcome?
to find management failure
To find management failure
  • What standard of safety could reasonably have been expected of this company offering services in this field
  • Did the standard attained fall far below the reasonable standard?
  • Did the failure to attain that reasonable standard cause the death of one or more individuals?
individuals in the dock
Individuals in the Dock?
  • Focus on corporate failings
  • But still possible to prosecute individuals for manslaughter where gross negligence causes death
  • And Directors still face prosecution
the way forward
The way forward
  • Increased scrutiny of management systems
  • Improvement of systems and assessments
  • Pragmatic approach
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Keeping up to date with issues
managing the investigation process
Managing the investigation Process
  • Seek early advice
  • Check the D&O Policy
  • Preservation of evidence
  • Understand privilege
  • Separate representation?
  • Maintain communication
any questions

Any Questions ?

Helen Devery

BLM Manchester