Gross Negligence Manslaughter - Sentencing Up To 18 Years
1 August 2018
We are sure you are all aware of the Corporate Manslaughter changes back in 2016. Now there is definitive guidance covering new sentences. One of the most serious offences is gross negligence manslaughter. So what is meant by this term?
Gross negligence manslaughter is a form of involuntary manslaughter where the defendant is ostensibly acting lawfully. Involuntary manslaughter may arise where the defendant has caused death but neither intended to cause death nor intended to cause serious bodily harm and thus lacks the mens rea of murder. Whereas constructive manslaughter exists where the defendant commits an unlawful act which results in death, gross negligence manslaughter is not dependant on demonstrating an unlawful act has been committed. Gross negligence manslaughter can be said to apply where the defendant commits a lawful act in such a way as to render the actions criminal. Gross negligence manslaughter also differs from constructive manslaughter in that it can be committed by omission.
So, within Health and Safety Law if someone in your care or working for you is killed because you failed to have adequate means for their safety in place. This may well be because you wanted to cut costs, looking for a cheaper solution (or no solution at all). Sadly, within the construction industry, this situation is common place.
To avoid hefty fines, and the potential to be put away for several years, the Client needs to make sure that costs are not cut in regards to safety. SHP state that "senior executives need to be aware of the behaviours that can get them into the worst trouble and proactively lead an agenda of compliance. Furthermore, these guidelines can be harnessed as a tool to train directors and senior executives as to the importance of setting the right tone at the top".
Don't forget, not knowing is not an excuse either, we must all comply with the law!