New guidelines on corporate manslaughter from the UK Sentencing Council will affect firms with turnover above £50m and replace sanctions thought to be insufficient.
According to The Guardian, the guidelines suggest that judges should impose fines in relation to the size of the convicted organisation. Under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007, there is no upper limit on penalties. A £20m fine level will apply to firms with an annual turnover of more than £50m, and up to £10m for fatal health and safety offences.
Fine levels, the Sentencing Council said, should be large enough to have an economic impact that would bring home to an organisation the importance of operating in a safe environment. The guidelines for judges in England and Wales are being strengthened because existing sanctions were felt to be too low to act as a deterrent.
Judges and magistrates can still impose punishments outside the recommended range if they believe they are dealing with an exceptional case.
Fines for companies found guilty of health and safety, food safety and food hygiene offences will also be significantly increased, according to the newspaper.
Michael Caplan QC, a member of the Sentencing Council, told The Guardian: “These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”