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.