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Corporate manslaughter bill: changes proposed

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The corporate manslaughter bill went through its second reading in the house of commons this week.

And after years of wrangling to get this far, changes are already being proposed – particularly to the definition of management failure.

With the unions demanding that the bill be strengthened to allow for the prosecution of individual directors, Home Secretary John Reid has agreed that the definition of management failure should be reconsidered as many have felt it was ‘too narrowly drawn’.

Reid also had to defend criticism of the penalties being limited to fines – albeit unlimited – MPs wanted to see the bill include provisions for the disqualification of directors.

He said: “It is already the case that directors can be disqualified if they are convicted of an offence related to the management of the company, and that includes health and safety offences.

“What the Bill does is to make the corporation liable to penalties, which is why the term “corporate” manslaughter is used. It supplements the existing law, which allows cases to be brought against, and penalties imposed on, directors as individuals.

“Often, responsibility is not capable of being laid at the door of one person, but lies with the corporate body overall.”

The bill will now move to the committee stage where its provisions will be discussed and potentially amended.

For those interested, the full debate at the second reading stage can be found at: hansard corporate manslaughter debate


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