On 20 July 2012 Lion Steel Ltd (Lion Steel) of Cheshire was ordered to pay the highest fine yet for breaching the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (the CMCHA). The company will pay £480,000 in fines plus 50 per cent (£84,000) of the prosecution costs. The fine will be paid in four instalments up to 30 September 2015 whilst the costs will be paid within 2 years of the hearing date.
Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings became the first company to be convicted under the CMCHA last year and was fined £385,000. A Northern Ireland firm, JMW Farms Limited (Co. Armagh) was fined £187,500, plus £13,000 costs in May 2012 following the death of a farm worker.
In setting the fine, Judge Gilbart QC referred closely to the 2010 guideline on fines for corporate manslaughter and work-related death convictions published by the Sentencing Guidelines Council. He noted that though the company was in profit, it had substantial loans, the directors were not paying themselves extravagant salaries, and shareholders had not received a dividend for three years. Mindful of the jobs of Lion Steel’s 140-strong workforce, he set the penalty just below the guideline's recommended benchmark of £500,000 and said he had reduced the amount by 20 per cent to reflect the company's guilty plea. He scheduled it in instalments saying he would regard it as a “most regrettable consequence” if the fine were to imperil the employment of former colleagues of the deceased.
For further details on the impact of this decision or the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 more generally, please contact Neil Q Miller or Holly Morgan.
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