Thursday, February 8, 2007

Corporate Manslaughter Bill

Aidan's post on the Corporate Manslaughter Bill this week also raises another question which needs to be cleared up before the Bill enters law. It is whether it should ensure that the new offence of corporate manslaughter covers British companies who cause deaths abroad. Although individual British nationals can be prosecuted for manslaughter committed abroad, in its current form the Bill leaves a serious loophole in respect of companies in that it only covers those deaths which occur in this country. This is despite the fact that it is quite possible in the case of companies that many of the actions that lead to a death may take place in this country. For example, the question arises as to what would happen if there was a repeat of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, in which a Union Carbide plant in central India leaked 40 tons of toxic gas and killed more than 3,000 people, but with a British company responsible and the deaths being its British workers. Add to this the fact that it is perfectly possible for inquests to be held in this country in relation to deaths abroad and further that such a hearing could well reveal serious management failures having been made on domestic soil. It seems unlikely that in circumstances such as these, there would not be many who may then regret that the Bill’s jurisdiction had not been wider.

No comments: