New guidelines which provide comprehensive sentencing guidance for the courts in relation to corporate manslaughter and non-fatal health and safety offences have recently been subject to public consultation. The guidelines will cover all the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences. They deal with difficult issues that arise in these cases, such as those relating to the risk of harm, identifying appropriate fine levels for organisations, or fining offenders that are charitable or public bodies.
The guidelines also address concerns that some sentences imposed for these offences have historically been too low, particularly in relation to large organisations convicted of the most serious health and safety offences. The Sentencing Council is proposing to increase sentence levels to ensure sentences are proportionate to the seriousness of the offence whilst taking account of the financial circumstances of the offender, e.g. turnover and other wider financial circumstances.
Other factors which will have to be considered in deciding the level of fine include:
- Size of Business
- Degree of Harm (Likelihood against Seriousness of harm risked)
- Degree of culpability (Very High, High, Medium, Low)
- Degree of foreseeability
- Did the defendant fail to comply with advice from regulators, authorities or employees?
- Did the defendant fail to comply with industry standards?
- How adequate was training, supervision or reporting arrangements?
- How widespread was non-compliance?
- Was there more than one death or a high risk of further deaths, or serious personal injury in addition to death?
Large businesses (£50m+ turnover) which commit an offence where there is very high level of culpability and harm could expect to see fines of up to £10m. In Corporate Manslaughter cases fines of up to £20m for a business with a turnover in excess of £50 million are being proposed. The Sentencing Council is due to report back on the consultation responses it has received in June 2015 and final sentencing guidelines are due to be published later in 2015.
All text provided by EEF, the manufacturers organisation
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