Organisations with a turnover of more than £50 million could be fined £20 million and possibly more under proposals to reform corporate manslaughter sentencing guidelines.
The Sentencing Council is consulting until 18 February, 2015 on new sentencing guidelines for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety offences.
Organisations found guilty under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 could, according to existing Sentencing Council guidance, be fined “seldom less than £500,000” but the penalty “may be measured in the millions of pounds”.
Now the Sentencing Council says penalties for corporate manslaughter offences should be reflected in starting points and ranges.
It is proposing four categories of fine based on an organisation’s turnover and within each category a two-tier structure linked to the seriousness of the offence.
It also says that “where a defendant organisation’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large organisations, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence”.
The starting point for fines is proposed at £300,000 for companies with a turnover below £2 million – lower than the Sentencing Council’s current suggested threshold of £500,000 – rising to £20 million for businesses with a turnover of more than £50 million.