Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 – A Guide

A detailed look at what the changes to this law will mean for businesses

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 – A Guide


Key Information

  • The Act applies across the UK.
  • The new offence can be prosecuted if the harm resulting in death occurs:
    • in the UK
    • in the UK’s territorial waters (for example, in an incident involving commercial shipping or leisure craft)
    • on a British ship, aircraft or hovercraft
    • on an oil rig or other offshore installation already covered by UK criminal law.

Questions and Answers

What is the “harm resulting in death”?

  • Typically, this will be a physical injury that is fatal. In the majority of cases, the injury causing the death and the death will occur at the same time, in the same location. But death may occur some time after an injury or harm takes place. The courts will still have jurisdiction for the new offence if the death has occurred abroad, provided the relevant harm was sustained in the UK.
  • In the case of fatalities connected with ships, aircraft and hovercraft, the new offence will still apply if the death does not actually occur on board (for example, the victim drowns), provided it relates to an on–board incident – see section 28(4).

Does the new Act apply to British companies responsible for deaths abroad?

  • No. The new offence only applies where the harm that leads to death occurs within the UK or in one of the other places described in the box above.
  • Where a death occurs abroad, the practical issues for investigators are acute – there will be no control of the crime scene or of the gathering of evidence relating to the cause of death. This evidence will be located overseas and collected and held to different standards, but would be a crucial part of the investigation and prosecution.

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