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  • Tougher fines faced by employers convicted under corporate manslaughter and H & S legislation&

    As of the 1st of February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines will apply to any case heard on or after that date irrespective of when the offence took place.

    Vikki Woodfine, partner and head of road haulage and logistics at legal firm DWF, told fleet news that “changes to the sentencing guidelines will now see a large company (where the annual turnover is more than £50 million) face a fine of up to £10 million for the most serious health and safety offences.
    Major companies convicted of the separate offence of corporate manslaughter will face fines of up to £20 million.
    Woodfine explained: “by basing penalties on a number of matters, including turnover, courts will be able to impose huge fines on those large companies, even in cases where there is no fatality or even an injury. “
    The tougher penalties come in the wake of the Baldwins Crane Hire being fined £700,000 in what was the first corporate manslaughter conviction involving a commercial driver. The court also ordered the business to pay £200,000 in costs.

    Lindsay Eaton, 49, from West Yorkshire, was driving a 130 – tonne mobile crane on a road from Scout Moor quarry in Edenfield, near Ramsbottom, when the brake system failed. The front of the vehicle was crushed, with Easton dying from multiple injuries. The investigation launched by the Lancashire Police, alongside the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that several wheel brakes were inoperable, worn or contaminated. The engine brake systems were also found to be non functional, disabled or damaged.

    Based on the figures in the company’s most recent filed account, if the company had been sentenced under new guidelines, the judge would have been using a starting point of a fine between £2m and £3m.