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The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act introduces a new offence for prosecuting companies and other organisations where there has been a gross failing throughout the organisation, in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences.

The much anticipated Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act comes into effect on 6th April 2008.

The Act does not make individual directors responsible for manslaughter unless they are already separately liable under law.  Under the new Act, a company will be guilty of corporate manslaughter if its activities cause a person's death because of the grossly inadequate way in which the company's activities are managed or organised.

The Act will require a court to consider whether the way in which senior managers organised the company's activities caused the person's death.   Senior managers could include strategic and operational managers, with day to day responsibility for an employee's activities.

Penalties include an unlimited fine, remedial orders to remedy any management failure that led to a fatality and publicity orders, whereby a court can impose an order publicising the fact that the company has been convicted of the offence and provide details of any amount fined and of any remedial actions.

Compliance with existing health and safety legislation in all aspects of employment will be paramount under the Act as well as having a safety culture within the company.