2008 saw significant changes to corporate manslaughter. On the 6 April 2008, the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (CMCHA) came into force. The new Act, whilst in itself not lengthy or complicated, has had an impact across the corporate world and understanding the risk and the nature of the new offence is vital for the senior management and board of any organisation.

Corporate manslaughter is as serious as it gets. It involves the unfortunate death of a human being, a person, an individual. It is difficult to consider the abstract concepts of this area of law objectively when in reality it will arise as a result of the death of someone and the effect of that death on their family.

It may seem cold to step back from the emotive morality to look at the abstract, but in fact, maintaining an objective composure when considering this creates a space in which risk, governance and corporate responsibility can be given due consideration.

The Act only applies to deaths where the conduct or harm leading to the death occurs on or after 6 April 2008. Anything prior to that date would be covered by the old common law rules. Section 17 of the 2008 Act states individuals will not be able to bring a private prosecution for the new offence without the consent of the DPP.

The offence was created to provide a means of accountability for very serious management failings across an organisation. The offence works in conjunction with other forms of accountability such as gross negligent manslaughter for individuals and other health and safety legislation.

Jul-Sep 2016 Issue

Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)