First Conviction for Corporate Manslaughter

Posted: 17th February 2011

TrenchThe first-ever successful prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act concluded this week when Winchester Crown Court found Cotswold Geotechnical guilty in connection with the death of geologist Alexander Wright, who died when a trench in which he was working collapsed in 2008.

Charges against the managing director of the company were dropped in October, due to his being too unwell to contest charges of causing death by gross negligence, a charge that carries a sentence of imprisonment for any period up to life. The proceedings against the company were continued, with the result that it was convicted this week. The company, which has a turnover of only £350,000, faces a potentially unlimited fine.

The Corporate Manslaughter Act was enacted after the failure to secure any convictions against any of the personnel or companies involved in the Hatfield rail disaster or the earlier Herald of Free Enterprise sinking.

Health and safety policy is important and impacts on several areas of business – for example on the terms and conditions of employment of all staff members. Contact us for advice on the legal implications of health and safety law for your business.