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Inspector's Eye View: The Prospective Enforcement of Work-Related Fatality Cases

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 46 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 893-916
Paul Almond
Date Published
September 2006
24 pages
This paper reviews the legal context of the proposed new offense in the United Kingdom, “corporate killing” resulting from the recent prominence of work-related fatalities as a legal issue.
The proposed “corporate killing” offense represents an important development, producing significant changes in the way that work-related fatalities are handled under the law. “Corporate killing” is a variation of the law of manslaughter, and is intended to remedy significant problems with the current scheme of liability. As a result, the rational of the new offense is primarily coercive in nature, and aims to provide a retributive response to corporate wrongdoing, punishing the offending company and providing a high-profile response that leads other companies to improve their health and safety provisions. By targeting the company, rather than individuals within it, the offense aims to accurately attribute blame and responsibility to culpable corporate defendants. It was suggested that the difference in rational between the new offense and existing health and safety law might lead to problems of implementation. The reason given is that the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) enforcement philosophy seems to run contrary to the terms of the new offense. Asking HSE, a compliance-centered regulatory body, to utilize a punitive offense may result in a clash of approach. However, HSE inspectors believe themselves to be enforcers of criminal law, suggesting that HSE’s adoption of a criminal mindset may be easier than thought. In conclusion, the HSE is more compatible with, and able to implement, the “corporate killing” offense than originally thought. Figures, tables, and references