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First corporate manslaughter driving case and new sentencing guidelines to come?

A crane hire company has become the first firm to be charged with corporate manslaughter after a company driver was killed.

It is alleged that the brakes failed when  the driver was driving a heavy crane down a steep road and the vehicle crashed into an earth bank.

After reviewing the evidence gathered by the Police and the Health and Safety Executive , Jane Wragg, specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), explained that she believed there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest. The case is listed for trial in October.

Since corporate manslaughter legislation, was introduced in 2008 eight companies have been convicted, two acquitted and a further four companies are awaiting trial.

Recent cases have seen fines ranging from £20,000 to £200,000. Only one case resulted in the minimum £500,000 fine. Publicity orders, where an organisation must advertise its failings through a public notice in the press, have only been ordered in two cases.

Prosecutors have faced criticism from some for failing to make more of the legislation, but the CPS is now pursuing more cases year-on-year and this is set to continue.

New sentencing guidelines are expected which will see tougher sanctions imposed for breaches of corporate manslaughter and health and safety legislation.

Companies will be defined by their turnover as micro, small, medium or large. A micro organisation will have a turnover of less than £2 million, while a large organisation would have a turnover of £50m and over.

If convicted under corporate manslaughter legislation with a high level of culpability, a large organisation could face a fine of between £4.8m and £20m. Whereas a micro organisation found guilty with a lower level of culpability could be fined £180,000 to £540,000.

With fines that can ruin a business prevention is the best policy. For help with managing your drivers’ hours see Smartanalysis. To ensure your drivers hold a valid licence see SmartLicence.

Source Fleet News

Posted on: 10.08.2015

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