Court decision signals jump in corporate manslaughter cases

High court ruling seen as historic breakthrough in establishing corporate
responsibility for deaths

The number of corporate manslaughter cases looks set to rise following the
landmark ruling against the Crown Prosecution Service in the Simon Jones case.

In its historic judgement at the end of March the High Court ordered the CPS
to reconsider its decision not to pursue charges against the firm Euromin.

Jones, working for Euromin in Shoreham Docks, West Sussex, was killed by a
grab crane in April 1998 on his first day at work. The crane was allegedly too
low as a result of procedures designed to save time when unloading ships.

But the CPS defended its actions and was considering an appeal against the
ruling as OH went to press.

"While we take account of the judgement and what was said we will still
consider cases individually," said a spokeswoman. "Every case is
different and has its own facts. Corporate manslaughter is quite
difficult."

The Government is reviewing the law on corporate manslaughter to make it
easier to bring prosecutions where individual culpability is not obvious. As
the law stands an organisation cannot be found guilty.

High Court judges Lord Justice Buxton and Mr Justice Moses said the CPS was
"irrational", and that the dangers inherent in the docks were
"plain as a pikestaff".

Labour MP George Galloway, who has championed the cause, said the ruling is
"a historic breakthrough in establishing corporate responsibility for the
fate of staff to whom they owe a duty of care".

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