Following recent, and not so recent, attempts to enact corporate manslaughter legislation in Ireland the Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2013 was introduced into Seanad Eireann on Thursday, 2nd May 2013. It is intended that the Second Reading will take place on 7th May 2013.
The Bill which is similar to the recent 2011 Bill creates an offence of corporate manslaughter where an undertaking causes the death of a person by gross negligence (further defined in the Bill). In addition, and unlike UK corporate manslaughter legislation, the Irish Bill makes individuals criminally liable for grossly negligent management causing death. An individual can only be convicted where the undertaking is itself convicted of the primary offence. The individual, in the Bill referred to as a ‘high managerial agent’, is someone who is a director, manager or similar or someone who purports to act as such or who plays a decision-making role.
Undertakings convicted of corporate manslaughter are liable to an unlimited fine. High managerial agents who are convicted face an unlimited fine and/or up to 12 years in prison.
The Bill does not preclude the prosecution of an individual for gross negligence manslaughter. If such a charge fails the court is permitted to find the individual guilty of grossly negligent management causing death as an alternative verdict.
To avoid the possibility of an undertaking being dissolved and re-formed to avoid criminal liability for either corporate manslaughter or grossly negligent management causing death, the court may disregard separate legal personality.
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