Sentencing for Corporate Manslaughter Offences for Micro Businesses

Since the 1 February 2016 the Sentencing Council has introduced new definitive guidelines which the courts have to follow in relation to Corporate Manslaughter and Health and Safety offences.

For a micro business with a turnover of up to £2 million the suggested starting point for a fine for more serious offences is £450,000, with a range that goes up to £800,000.  Clearly for a business of that size, this could be the difference between existence and obliteration.

Many directors of micro businesses don’t realize that their insurance cover will not protect them against criminal fines. It is against public policy to allow an insurer to insure a business against a criminal penalty as opposed to the legal costs of defence. Insurers could well agree to represent a client in court, but will suggest that they plead guilty. The offence will then have a fine imposed of that sort of level.

The fines are increasing so much because the sentencing council takes a view on what levels of penalties are appropriate, having regard for societal expectations and the outcome of various criminal offences.  They have clearly considered that hitherto, the fines for small organizations which might have be £50,000 or £100,00 or in extreme cases £200,000 have not been sufficient to act as a real deterrent.

For more specific advice on meeting your health and safety obligations within your organisation, contact Quadriga on 0118 929 9920 or click here to email us.

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