New corporate manslaughter act in force

The biggest shake-up of health and safety law in more than 30 years came into effect at midnight on Sunday 6 April with the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act.

The act is expected to make it easier for prosecutors to secure convictions against business leaders who neglect their health and safety obligations.

Since 1968 just seven corporate manslaughter prosecutions have resulted in convictions – all against ‘one-man band’ companies. But this is expected to surge to 12 a year under the new legislation.

Addleshaw Goddard corporate partner Adrian Bever said the act would be tested as companies look to defend health and safety records.

“To be guilty, the prosecution has to demonstrate that the company has caused death by gross breach of the relevant duty of care,” he said. “Companies will want to test that. There’ll be plenty of case law.”