Corporate manslaughter proposals must be tightened, warn MPs

MPs have called for proposed corporate manslaughter offences to be strengthened, warning that existing government plans may help some large companies to avoid prosecution.


A draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill was published after the General Election in May, in response to a number of high-profile rail crashes, including at Potters Bar and Hatfield. In the first instance no manslaughter charges were brought, and in the latter corporate manslaughter charges against Balfour Beatty were dropped.


But a key clause in the proposal, which makes employers liable for worker deaths caused by “senior management”, could lead to a “perverse incentive” for top bosses to delegate key health and safety decisions to more junior staff, the Home Affairs Committee warned.


It also warned the law focused on senior management failings rather than individual liability, which would allow top directors to avoid prosecution.


To eliminate such a risk, a new offence of “secondary liability for corporate manslaughter” should also be introduced, the committee said.

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