ALM Properties, Inc.
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U.K. Corporate Manslaughter Fine Set at $630K
The first company to be convicted under the United Kingdom's corporate manslaughter act was fined about $630,000. It could have been worse -- the British sentencing guidelines set no maximum limit.
Mills & Reeve, a top 50 British law firm, reported in its April newsletter that Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd. was told in mid-February that it could pay the penalty over the next 10 years, because of the company's poor financial condition.
The case arose in September 2008, when a 27-year-old geologist was working alone in a deep trial pit, which caved in on him.
The mining company became the first business to be convicted under the U.K.'s Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007. The law holds a company liable when a death is caused by "senior management's" gross breach of duty of care.
In this case, a jury found that the company standard for trial pits was "extremely irresponsible and dangerous" and that it had not complied with industry standards.
"It is apparent from this case that the company was found to have a cavalier attitude to health and safety," the Mills & Reeve update concluded.
Another main message, it added, "is that a bigger company would have received a substantially higher penalty and that fines causing liquidation cannot be ruled out" in corporate manslaughter cases.