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Corporate manslaughter fines to be 'punitive and significant'

10 March 2010

Fines for companies and organisations found guilty of corporate manslaughter may be millions of pounds and should seldom be below £500,000, according to definitive new advice to courts from the Sentencing Guidelines Council, which came into effect last month.

Council member and vice president of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) Lord Justice Anthony Hughes said: “Fines cannot and do not attempt to value a human life - compensation will be assessed separately in these cases. These are serious offences and the fines must be punitive and substantial and have an impact on the company or organisation.”

David Faithful, lawyer for Essential Risk Consultancy and legal adviser to RoadSafe and the ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign, said: “Up until now it’s been hard to put a price on getting it wrong when it comes to road risk. That’s no longer the case. At the bottom end of the spectrum, a simple breach of health and safety law could cost fleets up to £20,000’.

Jeremy Hay, managing director of ERC, added: “Any fleet that has not yet taken every precaution to protect itself and its drivers should see these guidelines as the final wake-up call.”

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