Court of Appeal takes significant step in sentencing large companies

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By Andrew Tatlock

The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) has handed down judgment on two appeal cases brought by companies contesting the level of fines each received.

The court rejected both appeals, providing a clear message to the sentencing courts that could have significant consequences for all corporate defendants, particularly those with a large turnover.

The case concerned two appeals. The first was brought by Sellafield, a nuclear waste management company with a turnover of £1.6bn. Sellafield pleaded guilty to offences arising out of the disposal of radioactive waste and received a fine of £700,000. Second, Network Rail, with a turnover of £6.2bn, pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence for failing to make safe a private rail crossing, which led to a car being struck by a train, inflicting very severe injuries on a 10-year-old boy. The company received a fine of £500,000…

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