Corporate Manslaughter Fines Could Rise To £20m

New Sentencing Council Guidelines Encourage Fines Relative To Turnover

14.11.2014

Large companies who are found guilty of corporate manslaughter could be fined up to £20m under new guidelines proposed today (November 13th) by the Sentencing Council.

Firms convicted of fatal food safety, hygiene and health and safety violations could also face increased fines of up to £10m.

The recommendations for judges in England and Wales are designed to rectify existing punishments, which were felt to be too low to be an effective deterrent for large companies.

Judges will now be encouraged to impose fines proportionate to the size of the organisation convicted. The £20m fine level for corporate manslaughter is proposed for companies with an annual turnover of £50m or more.

Michael Kaplan QC, a member of the Sentencing Council, said the changes are designed "to ensure that these crimes don't pay".

"Our proposals will help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing, allowing fair and proportionate sentences across the board, with some of the most serious offenders facing tougher penalties", he said.

"We want to make sure it is clear that it will be cheaper to comply with the law than break it."

Expert Opinion
The health and safety of workers and the general public should always be the priority for businesses and it is interesting to see these recommendations made in order to emphasise to companies their key responsibilities in this area.

"We have seen numerous examples when families have their lives turned upside down after losing loved ones in avoidable accidents at work or other incidents which could have been prevented – behind every death are family, friends and communities who are left having to cope with immeasurable loss.

"While we are all in favour of removing unnecessary red tape for responsible business owners, it is also vital that fair and proportionate steps are always taken to ensure those responsible for clear failings are held to account."
Stephen Nye, Partner