December 7, 2015

Bigger firms will pay biggest price of sentencing overhaul

New sentencing guidelines that crack down on risks to workers will come into effect in the new year.

The stipulations from The Sentencing Council are designed to help courts determine punishments for corporate manslaughter and workplace health and safety offences.

They will apply to companies and individuals who are sentenced on or after 1 February 2016, irrespective of when the offence occurred.

As part of the overhaul, fines are intended to have a greater impact on firms, with larger enterprises facing the biggest hikes. Courts will take into account the turnover and profit margins of the offender and other relevant financial information.

Those with a turnover of more than £50m are likely to be fined between £4.8m and £20m for corporate manslaughter.

In a report on The Construction Index website, sentencing council member Michael Qaplan QC, said: “These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk.

“These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”

Palmers’ partner Jeremy Sirrell, who is able to offer advice and representation in health and safety cases, said: “These developments introduce a new sentencing framework which may impact negatively on outcomes in both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts for defendants, especially companies. It speaks of the seriousness of these issues and therefore the need for legal advice at the earliest point. For information about what we do, please contact us.”