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Sentencing Council Call for Tougher Fines

November 13, 2014

moneyA consultation on new draft guidance for judges in England and Wales suggests that fines should reflect the size of the convicted organisation. The proposals contained in a document issued by the Sentencing Council could also apply to food safety offences. Large companies involved in corporate manslaughter cases could face fines up to £20 million if they have an annual turnover of more than £50 million. Under the Corporate Manslaughter Homicide Act 2007, there is currently no upper limit on fines.

Michael Caplan QC from the Sentencing Council told the Guardian, “We want to ensure that these crimes don’t pay. They can have extremely serious consequences, and businesses that put people at risk by flouting their responsibilities are undercutting those that play by the rules and do their best to keep people safe. Our proposals will help ensure a consistent approach to sentencing, allowing fair and proportionate sentences across the board, with some of the most serious offenders facing tougher penalties.”

There have only been a handful of convictions for corporate manslaughter since the legislation was introduced in 2007, the highest fine imposed being £480,000 when an employee of Lion Steel Limited died after falling through a fragile roof panel.

The Sentencing Council has no legislative power, which means any guidelines they issue must fall within existing legal limits.

The consultation is open until 18th February 2015 and you can view the document here