A third company has been convicted of corporate manslaughter
under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Under this piece of legislation companies and organisations can be
found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious
management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
Lion Steel Limited plead guilty to the charge at Manchester Crown
Court in connection with the death of Steven Berry who sustained
fatal injuries after falling through a fragile roof panel at the
firm's site in May 2008.
Since the legislation came into effect, Cotswold Geotechnical
Holdings Ltd and JMW Farms Ltd have also been convicted, receiving
fines of £385,000 and £187,500 respectively. Various
discussions have also taken place about the fine being commensurate
with the ability to pay with the Court of Appeal introducing the
concept that, in some cases, putting a company out of business may
be inevitable if they have committed a serious enough breach. In
Cotswold's case they entered voluntary liquidation shortly
after judgement was laid down. Sentencing guidelines published
provide that fines for corporate manslaughter should rarely be less
than £500,000. It has been argued that full application of
the legislation is yet to be tested on a large corporate entity
with complex management structures. The case of Lion Steel Limited
will be of particular interest going forward as, of the three
companies convicted to date, Lion Steel is the largest. Sentencing
is due to take place on 19 July 2012. It will be of interest to see
what level of fine is imposed in relation to guidance and company
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The ramifications for those found to be in civil contempt (as presided over by the High Court), and, in particular, the court’s power to enforce such a finding against a contemnor who resides overseas, are more far reaching than many (civil) lawyers realise.
The Bribery Act has made the news again following the conviction of a would be taxi driver. Earlier this week, at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Mr Mawia Mushtaq became the second person convicted of an offence under the Bribery Act by attempting to bribe a Licensing Officer.
In the previous edition of Corporate Focus we reported that the Bribery Act 2010 (the Bribery Act) came into force on 1 July 2011 and we considered procedures that commercial organisations could put into place in order to prevent bribery.
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