Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
|Long title||An Act to create a new offence that, in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, is to be called corporate manslaughter and, in Scotland, is to be called corporate homicide; and to make provision in connection with that offence.|
|Chapter||2007 c. 19|
|Introduced by||Home Secretary John Reid, July 20, 2006|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales; Scotland; Northern Ireland|
|Royal Assent||26 July 2007|
|Commencement||6 April 2008|
|Status: Current legislation|
|History of passage through Parliament|
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (c. 19) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that seeks to broaden the law on corporate manslaughter in the United Kingdom. The Act created a new offence respectively named corporate manslaughter in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and corporate homicide in Scotland.
In English law, a corporation is a juristic person and is capable of committing, and being convicted of and sentenced for, a criminal offence. However, some conceptual difficulty lies in fixing a corporation with the appropriate mens rea. Before the Act, a corporation could only be convicted of manslaughter if a single employee of the company committed all the elements of the offence and was of sufficient seniority to be seen as embodying the "mind" of the corporation. The practical consequence of this was that such convictions were rare and there was public discontent where it was perceived that culpable corporations had escaped censure and punishment.
The Act attempts to align the offence of corporate killing north and south of the border. An indictable offence is committed if the way in which an organisation's activities are managed or organised:
- Causes a person's death; and
- Amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased;
— and the way in which its activities are managed or organised by its senior management is a substantial element in the breach. Prosecution in England or Wales requires the permission of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and in Northern Ireland, the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and no natural person can be charged with aiding and abetting the offence. The common law offence of gross negligence manslaughter, as it applies to corporations, is abolished.
The offence applies to:
- Partnerships, trade unions and employers' associations, that are themselves employers.
- Police forces;
- Various, but not all, government departments;
Relevant duty of care
A relevant duty of care is one of several duties of care owed by the organisation under the law of negligence and is a question of law for the judge. Various government policy decisions; policing, military and child protection activities; and emergency responses are excluded.
There are particular duties of care owed to persons in custody (s. 2(1)(d)) and, owing to the sensitivity and difficulty of such duties, implementation of this section was delayed. The Ministry of Justice published a report on progress towards implementation in July 2008.
A breach of a duty of care by an organisation is a gross breach if the alleged conduct amounts to a breach of that duty that falls far below what can reasonably be expected of the organisation in the circumstances. The jury must consider whether the evidence shows that the organisation failed to comply with any health and safety legislation that relates to the alleged breach, and if so:
- How serious that failure was; and
- How much of a risk of death it posed.
The jury may also:
- Consider the extent to which the evidence shows that there were attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices within the organisation that were likely to have encouraged the failure, or to have produced tolerance of it; and
- Have regard to any health and safety guidance that relates to the alleged breach.
Senior management means the persons who play significant roles in:
- The making of decisions about how the whole or a substantial part of its activities are to be managed or organised; or
- The actual managing or organising of the whole or a substantial part of those activities.
On conviction a corporation may be ordered to remedy any breach, or to publicise its failures, or be given an unlimited fine. Sentencing guidelines are expected in autumn 2008 but on 15 November 2007, the Sentencing Guidelines Council issued a consultative document recommending a starting point of a fine of 5% of company turnover for a first offence with a not guilty plea, rising to 10% of turnover.
- The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 29 of this Act.
- "Understanding the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007" (pdf). Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
- Interpretation Act 1978, s. 5
- Herring (2004) p. 720
- Tesco Supermarkets Ltd v. Nattrass  AC 153
- Attorney General's Reference (No. 2 of 1999)  QB 796, CA
- "History of passage through Parliament". Parliament of the UK. 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
- S. 1(6)
- S. 1(1)
- s 1(3)
- s 17
- S. 18
- S. 20
- S. 1(2)
- S. 14
- Sch. 1, s. 11
- S. 2
- S. 4, s. 13
- S. 5, s. 12
- S. 6
- S. 7
- "Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act: custody provisions". Ministry of Justice. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
- S. 1(4)(b)
- S. 8
- S. 1(4)(c)
- S. 9
- S. 10
- "Consultation Paper on Sentencing for Corporate Manslaughter" (PDF). Sentencing Guidelines Council. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- "Companies face record corporate manslaughter fines". Solicitors' Journal. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
- "Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide: A Regulatory Impact Assessment of the Government's Bill". Home Office. 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-19.
- Clarkson, C. M. V. (1998). "Corporate culpability". Web Journal of Current Legal Issues 2.
- Gobert, J. (2002). "Corporate killings at home and abroad - reflections on the government's proposals". Law Quarterly Review 118: 72.
- Herring, J. (2004). Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. Chapter 13. ISBN 0-19-876578-9.
- Matthews, R. (2008). Blackstone's Guide to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-920321-0.
- Ministry of Justice (2007). "Guidance on the Act". Retrieved 2007-10-17.
- Sullivan, G. R. (2001). "Corporate killing - some government proposals". Criminal Law Review: 31.
- The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, as amended from the National Archives.
- The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, as originally enacted from the National Archives.
- Explanatory notes to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.