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Senator's bill would make 'corporate manslaughter' a criminal offence

Legislation proposed by FF senator Mark Daly would criminalise companies who breach a duty of care to a person who then dies.

Senator Mark Daly's bill would make 'corporate manslaughter' a criminal offence for the first time.
Senator Mark Daly's bill would make 'corporate manslaughter' a criminal offence for the first time.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

NEW DRAFT LEGISLATION proposed by a Fianna Fáil senator would create a new criminal offence of ‘corporate manslaughter’ for companies whose ‘gross negligence’ results in a person’s death.

The bill, proposed by Senator Mark Daly, outlines circumstances where a company could be held criminally liable where it owed a duty of care to a person who dies after a breach of their duty of care.

Companies and their “high managerial agents” could be charged if they fail to make reasonable efforts to eliminate the risk of substantial harm to a person in their care, and if that failure contributes to the offence.

Companies found guilty of the proposed offence would be fined an unspecified amount, while the management involved may also face unspecified jail terms.

Any person convicted under the new bill may also be subject to court orders banning them from acting in a management capacity for up to 15 years – with anyone breaching these orders liable for fines of up to €5 million and two years’ imprisonment.

Courts would also be given the power to order that any convicted company must publish an “adverse publicity order” advertising its conviction, the details of its offence, and any fines or remedial orders handed down by the court.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill follows a report from the Law Reform Commission in 2005, which recommended that a formal definition of corporate manslaughter be written into law.

The Cabinet approved the preparation of similar laws late last year, but the government collapsed before any such Bill could be introduced.

The new bill will be discussed in the Seanad in the New Year, and will be passed onto the Dáil if accepted by the government.

Previously: Government approves preparation of “corporate manslaughter” bill >

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Gavan Reilly

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