Belfast Telegraph

New work deaths laws introduced

New laws are to be introduced to prosecute companies and senior managers over a death linked to a business.

The reforms could see a firm held liable for manslaughter in the workplace, and also if they sold a product or provided a service, such as transport, blamed on a killing.

The Department of Justice also intends to create a new law to prosecute company executives for gross negligence causing death.

Dermot Ahern, Justice Minister, announced he had received Government approval to prepare a bill for the new laws.

"I am conscious that gaps on the Statute Book may leave a bereaved family with no option but to pursue an action in the civil courts," the minister said.

"Our laws must be robust in this area. While the criminal law route should only be used where death has occurred as a result of flagrant abuse of the safety standards expected of companies and their managers, it is desirable that the criminal law would reflect the strength of societal disapproval for such events."

The Law Reform Commission highlighted in 2005 the lack of adequate legislation to hold companies responsible for deaths.

Under the reforms businesses will be held liable for deaths in the workplace but also where the firm was at fault through the sale of dangerous products or the provision of a service which was faulty or unsafe, such as transport.

The Commission had recommended giving courts the powers to impose unlimited fines for corporate manslaughter along with community service orders and adverse publicity orders.

The organisation said it was not possible to impose a custodial sentence on a corporate entity. However, it said a senior manager could face penalties of 12 years in jail and the option of an unlimited fine if gross negligence causing death was proved in court.

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