Manslaughter Act will put companies in spotlight

Companies responsible for the death of an employee will have to put extra systems in place to cope with publicity as of next year, legal experts have warned.

The Corporate Manslaug­hter Act 2007 comes into force next April. It states that companies and organisatio­ns whose gross negligence leads to the death of an employee will face criminal prosecution and possible unlimited fines.

More significantly for the PR industry, the Sentencing Advisory Panel’s Consultation Paper asserts that the companies charged should also publicise their misdemeanour to customers, suppliers and shareholders.

‘The potential damage to companies under these new proposals cannot be overstated,’ said legal PR specialist the Byfield Consultancy director Richard Elsen.

‘The immediate impact for a company having to “name and shame” itself for a corporate manslaughter conviction is clear for all to see. Properly co-ordinated risk and reputation management plans will become priority, and lawyers and PR practitioners will have to work together.’

Judith Seddon, a partner at the law firm Russell Jones & Walker, said the ‘publicity orders’ would lead to significant ‘reputational damage’ for organisations hit by them.


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