The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

The Act, which came into force on 6 April 2008, clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies, including large organisations, where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.

Major companies with an annual turnover of more than £50m face higher fines.

What is the Corporate Manslaughter Act?

The Act sets out an offence for which an organisation may be prosecuted where a gross failure in the way activities were managed or organised results in a person’s death. This will apply to a wide range of organisations across the public and private sectors. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the offence is called corporate manslaughter. It is called corporate homicide in Scotland.

The Corporate Manslaughter Act is a stand alone piece of criminal legislation and is not part of health and safety law. However, although the new Act does not contain provision for personal prosecution this already exists under current legislation, (section 36 and 37 of the Health and safety at Work Act 1974).

Where gross negligence is suspected by the police under the Act, files may be passed onto the Health and Safety Executive for prosecution under section 36 and 37 of the Health and safety at Work Act etc. 1974.

The Act will apply where there have been serious failures in the management of health and safety which results in a fatality. There could be an increased likelihood of personal prosecutions of directors and senior managers where it can be proven that health and safety procedures were grossly inadequate.

What counts as manslaughter under the Act?

How does it affect me? (as both an employer and an employee)

Have a lot of people been fined or sent to jail because of this?

How does the act affect the provision of first aid?

Where can I go for more information?

Can charges be brought historically?

Can I be held accountable for higher management decisions?

What is St John Ambulance doing to help?