The Law On Involuntary Manslaughter Needs Reform

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The Law On Involuntary Manslaughter Needs Reform. In Particular, The Law On Corporate Manslaughter I Essay, Research Paper Public confidence in the law and the judiciary has been seriously affected in the last few years with a number of disasters where the law of manslaughter, as it currently stands in England and Wales has failed to lead to any prosecutions. There has been the growing perception that the law dealing with corporate manslaughter is ineffective following public inquiries, which have found serious fault with, and been highly critical of various corporate bodies. It would seem that as companies grow larger and have more power so there should be at the same time an increase in the responsibility that these companies have towards society in general. Therefore just

as individuals in society owe a duty to each other not to unlawfully kill each other so should companies owe that duty to society as well. [1]Society?s perception of large companies is such that they are seen as the correct body which must be blamed rather than individuals when disasters happen.[2] This can be demonstrated by the action brought by the relatives of the victims following the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise[3]. The relatives in this case were seeking primarily the prosecution of P&O and not of the individual employees involved with the disaster.Under the law in England and Wales as it currently stands, the method by which companies are held criminally responsible for manslaughter is that of the doctrine of identification[4]. This involves having to

identify someone who is sufficiently senior within the company who can be said to represent the ?mind and will? of the company. If this person commits a crime within the course of their employment, that crime, and the mens rea of it can then be attributed to the company, which becomes identified with it and can therefore be held liable. Where this occurs it will then be possible to prosecute both the individual concerned and the company.There has been some difficulty by the courts in deciding at exactly what level this directing mind should be in the company. In the Meridian Global Funds Management Asia Ltd. V Securities Commission [5]case the Privy Council held that not every case should be forced into a ?single formula? of the ?directing mind and will? type but that the way the

particular offence is committed is important. In this case it was held that the investment manager was of a sufficient senior level to be held responsible. Lord Hoffman seemed to be arguing that there should be a wider scope for responsibility, with the main question being, ?whose act (or knowledge, or state of mind) was for this purpose intended to count as the act of the company?? This would seem to extend the traditional view of the doctrine of identification, with the idea being that this particular person was authorized to do this job, and therefore their acts can be attributed to the company. Each case becomes therefore ? a special rule of attribution for the particular substantive rule.?[6] Therefore a person who before could not have been said to be senior enough in the

company could now possess the necessary mens rea for the crime of corporate manslaughter. However the problem still remains that a particular person has to be identified within the company whose acts and knowledge can be attributed to the company as a whole. Often it will also be shown that fault did not lie with a particular individual but rather with the company itself, in the form of procedures or safety measures which were not implemented. In the Herald of Free Enterprise case[7] the fact that the prosecution failed was that there was no individual in P&O who held responsibility for safety and there were no safety policies in place. The Sheen Report[8] made it clear that the fault for the disaster lay with company policies, or the lack of them, and that the company was at