Unit 24

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Unit 24: Aspects of Criminal law relating to Business

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 allow companies and organisations to be guilty of these offences where serious managerial failures result in gross breach of a duty of care. This Act created a new offence of corporate manslaughter to apply to companies, government departments, police forces etc. However, before this Act was introduced, a corporation could only be convicted of manslaughter if a single employee of the company committed all the fundamentals of the offence and was considered ‘senior’ enough to be seen as exemplifying the "mind" or ‘brain’ of the corporation. Due to these limitations, convictions were rare and it was felt that corporations had escaped punishment.
The offence is concerned with corporate liability and does not apply to directors or other senior individuals, who may have other senior members beneath them in the company or organisation. The police investigate suspected cases of corporate manslaughter and prosecution decisions are made by the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). An organisation will be guilty of the new offence if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes death and equals to a gross breach of a duty of care to the deceased. The new test requires juries to consider; * how the fatal action was managed or controlled throughout the organisation, including any systems and processes for managing safety * to take into consideration any health and safety breaches by the organisation * and to analyse how serious and dangerous those failures were, and how relevant they were to the fatality.
If an organisation is proven to be guilty of the offence, it is liable for an unlimited fine. The Act also provides for courts to impose a publicity order, where the organisation is required to publicise details of its conviction and fine. This, to certain extents, is done to put the organisation under ‘shame’, so that they have

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