For a long time there has been worries that the penalties imposed on large organisations for health & safety and corporate manslaughter, particularly on large organisations, were too low and the approach to sentencing in the courts inconsistent.
In a response to this concern, on 3rd November 2015 the sentencing council issued new guidelines which will apply to sentencing in all health and safety and corporate manslaughter prosecutions.
It is compulsory for courts to follow the guidelines for all sentences passed after 1st February 2016 regardless of whether or not the offence took place before that date.
Different range of fines
Under current guidelines, fines for health and safety offences resulting in death should not normally be less than £100,000 and for corporate manslaughter not less than £500,000. Those figures pale into insignificance when compared with the incoming guidelines.
An organisation’s turnover will be the starting point for the level of fine. For the most serious health and safety offences, fines of up to £10 million are envisaged for large organisations (those with a turnover greater than £50 million), up to £4 million for medium-sized organisations (turnover between £10 million and £50 million), up to £1.6 million for small organisations (£2 million to £10 million) and up to £450,000 for micro-businesses (less than £2 million). For corporate manslaughter the penalty for a large organisation may be up to £20 million.