Corporate Manslaughter – Are Directors Liable?
Since The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act in 2007, it is easier for organisations to be convicted of workplace deaths. But can directors be held accountable for Corporate Manslaughter? Read below for more information.
Corporate Manslaughter is when the offence is committed by the company or organisation itself, and it is considered a “gross” breach of a duty of care.
This includes if its activities are managed or organised:
- Causes someone’s death
- Amounts to a gross breach of duty of care from the organisation to the deceased
An organisation will be guilty of corporate manslaughter if its activities – and how they are managed or organised – are a part in the breach.
Corporate Manslaughter focuses on general corporate procedures, rather than an individual’s action and decision-making.
Gross Negligence Manslaughter
Individual directors or senior managers at fault for work-related deaths may be prosecuted under the common-law offence of gross negligence manslaughter.
To be negligent:
- The director must owe the deceased a duty of care
- The director must have breached this duty of care
- The breach must have then caused death
This breach must be “gross” – meaning that the action or inaction of the director can be considered as criminal. This can make the offence very difficult to establish.
Health & Safety at Work Act
Directors can also be prosecuted for workplace deaths under the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974). It says that directors or managers may be liable where a company fails to meet its Health & Safety obligations. This would be due to the directors “consent or connivance” – meaning that they were aware of the circumstances leading to the death, but they allowed activities to continue.
The role played by individual directors where there’s a death in the workplace is likely to be considered by regulators and prosecutors. If you are a director or senior manager, it is vital that you take Health & Safety seriously, and aware of the law and any guidance and procedures that go with it – and act accordingly.
If you’re worried about Corporate Manslaughter, get in touch with our specialist Manslaughter solicitors today.