Manchester company charged with corporate manslaughter

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Posted in:Corporate and Commercial, HR and Employment, Litigation|August 2, 2011 | Join the mailing list

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has confirmed that it has advised Greater Manchester Police to charge Lion Steel Ltd with corporate manslaughter.

Three of the company’s directors – Kevin Palliser, Richard Williams and Graham Coupe – will also be charged with gross negligence manslaughter. The charges come following the death of Steven Berry, who fell through a plastic roof panel on an industrial unit
on Johnsonbrook Road, Hyde in May 2008 and died as a result of injuries sustained in the fall.

The three men are also charged under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety at work of their employees. Lion Steel is also charged under Section 2 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for
failing to ensure the safety at work of its employees.

The first hearing will take place at Tameside Magistrates’ Court on 2 August 2011.

Alison Loveday of Berg commented that "The offence of corporate manslaughter was introduced in April 2008 to make it easier for the authorities to successfully prosecute large organisations where a corporate management failing has led to death. To secure a
conviction, the CPS will need to show that the company’s conduct caused the employee’s death and amounted to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed to the employee. Additionally, it will have to show that a substantial element of the breach was in
the way the senior management managed or organised its activities. If the company is convicted, the penalty is an unlimited fine.

It is advised that organisations, who have not done so already, should take action now to reduce the risk of committing an offence under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. This will involve ensuring that you have a clear health and
safety policy in place which reflects current legislation and industry practices. You should also take this opportunity to consider ways to strengthen the health and safety culture within your organisation, so that everyone takes responsibility for improving
health and safety. It is also recommended that you review your organisation’s liability insurance to check that recoverable legal costs incurred under the Act would be covered. As regards insurance, it should be noted that if there is a successful prosecution,
cover will not be available to the organisation for any fine or costs order, as a matter of public policy. It is therefore, important that organisations take steps to reduce their exposure to such risks." 

To discuss how we can provide further advice in connection with these issues, please contact Alison Loveday, Partner and Head of our Employment team, by email to or alternatively you can call Alison on 0161
833 9211.

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No responsibility for this article’s (or the above link’s) accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or
any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of the contents of this article.

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