Term Paper: Corporate Manslaughter in the UK

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Corporate Manslaughter Bill

Research Organisation

Critical Analysis

The Evolutionary Process

The Legal Context

The Debate: Law or Social Ethics?

Exploratory

Descriptive

Explanatory

Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Deductive vs. Inductive

Data Sources and Data Collection Methods

Credibility of Research Findings

Prevalence of Corporate Manslaughter

Understanding Corporate Criminal Liability

Legal Response to Corporate Manslaughter in the U.K

Current Law on Corporate Manslaughter: A Review of Cases

Recommendations for Reform and Conclusion

Recommendations and Proposals for Reform

Proposed Law and Legal Reforms on Corporate Manslaughter - a Review

Conclusion and Direction for Further Research

Bibliography

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION to the STUDY

This study proposes to examine the subject of "corporate manslaughter." For purposes of moving the discussion forward in a way that remains unchallenged as to the definition of that term, the term shall be defined here, now, and the ensuing research and study shall commence with the basis of that understanding. "Corporate manslaughter," is the non-legal (for now) term that meets the definition and degree of negligence legally defined as manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. That which results in death, but which given the foresight through forethought in planning or by the obvious action-reaction industry specific knowledge and understanding, that resulting in disaster or injury or death of one or more individuals, could have otherwise been avoided, constitutes corporate manslaughter. In other words, there must be some industry specific understanding and through knowledge of that industry an understanding that a given action could result in a serious injury and, or, deadly reaction if the proper precautions of prevention are neglected or ignored. These precautions of prevention are often costly to the employer, and thusly, for the employer, the cost of prevention is often much greater than the likelihood or eminent risk. The risk then becomes acceptable or negligible to the employer who then avoids or neglects taking measures of prevention to mitigate the danger to the employees or consumers associated with the risk. Given that there are 500 deaths per year attributed to the negligence, involuntary manslaughter, at an employer, or corporate level, it would follow that specific legislative processes must commence to deal with what is called "corporate manslaughter."

In an article contrasting the G8 altruism in forgiving third world country debt, with the unaddressed or insufficiently legislated redress of the crime of "state" manslaughter that allows states to avoid, evade and ignore risk to civilians, consumers and employees, Simon Mackenzie lists the legal mechanisms under English and Wales law for finding complicity in an "omission to act." The criteria of domestic law are the same that are currently applied against the allegations of "corporate manslaughter." (Mackenzie is arguing the same topic but at the state, or nation level). Those criteria - and there are just three - are as follows:

An oblique intent to commit murder using the "virtual certainty" test in relation to a criminal omission - in other words, where one's main aim is something other than to kill, but in achieving that aim the causing of death or serious bodily harm is a virtual certainty, and is appreciated as such (see Woolin [1998] 3 WLR 382); or Gross negligence manslaughter, in which mens rea requirements of that offense might be considered to be constituted by the unreasonable exposure of the victim to an obvious and serious risk to their health and welfare and a "couldn't care less" attitude to a dangerous situation the accused has created (see Allen, 2005: 305-306); or Reckless killing or killing by gross carelessness under the Law Commission's new proposals (Law Commission of England and Wales, 1996; Home Office, 2000).

1.2 Statement of Problem

The focus of this paper is to determine if 1) there is a need for distinct and separate legislated law addressing criminal negligence as presented in the three aforementioned criteria to be created that would be specific to employers, or other entities profiting from the manufacture, creation of, or distribution of goods or services who in that role cause severe bodily harm and, or, death to employees in the production of those goods or services, or consumers of those goods and services. 2) to determine whether or not existing law sufficiently defines and extends the application of the definition to businesses, corporations or other entities that produce, create, manufacture and distribute goods and services and in the process of those activities or any one of those activities negligently contributes to the severe bodily injury and, or death of an individual employee in the performance of those activities, or a consumer of the product or products resulting from those activities.

1.3 Overview and Definition of Key Terms and Concepts

Prior to commencing the study, consideration was given to the definitions and terms, defined and undefined, as used within the context of this document. Those terms holding legally defined meanings and those, corporate manslaughter, which lacks a legally defining meaning since it is not currently a term associated with a specific law on the statutes. Therefore the meaning of "corporate manslaughter" was taken from the meaning as it is defined in the Corporate Manslaughter Bill, which has been presented to Parliament.

The use of the term in this paper is a reflection of the meaning of the term in the Bill.

1.3 Manslaughter

The introduction of a Corporate Manslaughter Bill represents a third definition attached to the notion of manslaughter, which carries with it penalties for the level of offence. Manslaughter, standing alone and on its own, is one level of offence; involuntary manslaughter is the second description of the term. Standing alone, the legal definition of manslaughter is described in the Criminal Justice Bill as manslaughter is a criminal offence despite its being the involuntary killing of another, because death could have been avoided had the offender exercised due caution in omission, or act which led to the death in question. In other words, and as described by the Crown Prosecution Service, manslaughter is a criminal act if the death was avoidable and the offender is proven to have neglected caution or cautions to prevent that death, then that action is one of negligence, less criminal than murder, manslaughter.

Involuntary manslaughter is distinguishable in penalty, and usually denotes a reckless behaviour, but not a behaviour that the offender might have given advance consideration of in order to know that it would result in the death of another person.

Corporate Manslaughter

At the outset of the discussion here, an attempt was made to provide some working definition and concept to the term "corporate manslaughter." Having accomplished that, a separate discussion about the term is really useful to this study, because the term is one that has evolved to take on an unassigned legal definition, and one that has been used in association with efforts to bring about legislative action and laws that cause it to be applied to criminal acts of negligence. Simple as the term has been defined here for purposes of this study, it can be expected, should a bill be drafted and introduced, that the term will take on a much more complex definition and description in legalese.

In a paper and titled 'Corporate Liability Standards: When Should Corporations be Held Criminally Liable?" V.S. Khanna discussed the term in both its simple form, and its potential legalese form. The term, Khanna points out, will, at the legal level, begin with the general meaning of the term, and will then begin to take on the aspects of legalese as the levels of that function are attached to it. It is a relatively new term, and therefore it might be easier to envision it as a term going along a legal assembly belt where the various parts and components that make it work are built into it. There will need to be, Khanna writes, the meaning of vicarious liability built into the term; that falls under the doctrine of respondeat superior that was previously and briefly mentioned. But this is an important part of the definition assembly, because it says that only agents, employees, of the corporation or entity can be held liable for wrongdoing. Also, that the employee's intent is aimed at benefiting the corporation; which in and of itself would probably have to be define as another integral part of the whole term.

While the thought in some circles is that corporate manslaughter arises only out of accidental incidence, that is not a notion that is universally agreed upon in legal circles. As difficult as it is to imagine, there are criminal acts of negligence that are, if we assign the term as defined here, intentional by way of that neglect or avoidance. The term will have to take on a part in its definition to address that, and to penalize that in way different from the penalty that might be imposed for an unintentional act of corporate manslaughter. As this discussion moves along the parts being built into the term along the assembly line, it becomes clear how, by the time the term arrives at the point where it… [END OF PREVIEW]

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