Risk Updates from PIB - New Sentencing Guidelines for Health and Safety
SIGNIFICANTLY GREATER FINES FOR MEDIUM AND LARGE BUSINESSES
New guidelines have been issued by the Sentencing Council. It does not matter when the offence was committed, these guidelines apply to those sentenced on or after 1 February, 2016. Although not strictly applicable to Scotland, Scottish courts appear to be following them.
Fines will now be based on:
This approach is being followed rigidly by the courts. At sentencing, we are reading reports which detail the courts’ thinking on how they have assessed each of the three above criteria to determine the fine.
A company turning over more than £50m. Very high culpability. Harm category One.
The starting point for a fine is £4,000,000. The range is from £2,600,000 to £10,000,000.
A company turning over more than £10m but less than £50m. Very high culpability. Harm category One..
The starting point for a fine is £1,600,000. The range is from £1,000,000 to £4,000,000.
A fine of this order may in some cases prevent a business from continuing to trade.
The points numbered below are direct quotations from the guidelines:
- “Whether the fine will have the effect of putting the offender out of business will be relevant. In some bad cases this may be an acceptable consequence.”
- “It should not be cheaper to offend than to take the appropriate precautions.”
- “Normally, only information relating to the organisation before the court will be relevant, unless exceptionally it is demonstrated to the court that that the resources of a linked organisation are available and can properly be taken into account.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IN PRACTICE?
- Businesses need to avoid being prosecuted for health and safety offences.
- A good Management Liability Policy ( MLP ) insurance policy will help fund defence against such prosecution.
- Businesses need to reconsider, in the light of the above, whether they are allocating suitable and sufficient resources to the management of health and safety. PIB company Sigerson Associates Limited can carry out Health and Safety audits. They can also offer a range of solutions.
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