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Explain why so few criminal prosecutions for corporate manslaughter succeed, what proposals for reform have been made and what criticisms these reforms have themselves been subjected to.

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Introduction

Explain why so few criminal prosecutions for corporate manslaughter succeed, what proposals for reform have been made and what criticisms these reforms have themselves been subjected to. Criminal offences are not only committed by individuals but are also committed by companies. This raises the obvious problem of how do you define the state of mind of the company. Over the last 40 years 22,000 people have been killed at work or business related disasters but they have only been three successful prosecutions for corporate manslaughter. In Kite v OLL Ltd the criminal case against the company collapsed because the prosecution had been unable to satisfy the doctrine of identification. The identification doctrine prevents large corporations from being held responsible for manslaughter. Number of interesting issues arises from this. First, what is doctrine of identification? Second, why should this doctrine act as a barrier to conviction and thirdly is an issue relation to causation - was conduct of corporation a cause of death. The identification doctrine originated from the civil case Lennords Carrying Company Ltd v Asiatic Petroleum Ltd where it was held that act by corporation supreme authority constituted an act of corporation itself. ...read more.

Middle

Where serious offences such as manslaughter are concerned, bringing a prosecution against a company may allow the individuals responsible to go free as they may only suffer the prosecution of their company and the fine rather then being prosecuted personally and possibly imprisoned. All these criticisms have attracted people arguing that the law needs reform. Government is currently thinking about introducing reform on corporate manslaughter. The proposed reforms have been presented by the Home Office in a consultation document reforming the law of Involuntary Manslaughter: the government's proposal. The proposals on the current law relating to corporate homicide are to replace the existing law with two new offences and they are corporate killing and substantially contributing to corporate killing. The government have proposed to create new offence of corporate killing because of the problem of doctrine of identification. The offence of corporate killing would be based on management failure and liability will only be imposed where the management failure is part of or the main cause of a person death and the failure constitutes conduct falling below what can be reasonably expected of the corporation in circumstances. It would not require the risk to be obvious or that "d" is capable of appreciating the risk. ...read more.

Conclusion

However one problem with this is that large organisation will be likely to advertise in newspaper which they consumers are less likely to read. Another alternative is punishing the company so that all the profit they make during that certain period should be sent to the state. The other alternative is to impose community service order which would be done at there own expense. Law could increase the number of health and safety inspectors. Mr Lissack has argued that there has been a change in the law on corporate manslaughter following the judgement of Adomako, where it was argued that all that needs to be looked at is companies conduct and whether the company's behaviour was so bad as to label the conduct as criminal. It has also been suggested that offences that companies are likely to incur should be taken out of criminal law and placed in civil law so that they can be sued for damages rather then being fined. Therefore from all the criticisms of corporate manslaughter it is pretty clear that the law is in need of reform. It's not fair that a company is not punished for their act because the doctrine of identification cannot be proved. Committing a death of a person is murder and just because a business has committed it, it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be punished for. Zeenat Fazlanie 038366 ...read more.

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