The Home Office has published a long-awaited set of proposals designed to make the law on involuntary manslaughter more effective and has proposed to introduce a new offence of corporate killing, plus three other offences to deal with death caused by a company's recklessness or carelessness.
It is designed to end boardroom complacency by placing the threat of imprisonment for directors found guilty and subjecting their companies to unlimited fines, as well as indirectly tackling fleets' poor safety record, which has been attacked by police and the Government. Fleets have been warned that introducing driver training and policies covering hours may not be enough to safeguard against prosecution.
A spokesman for Drive & Survive said: 'We will not know what is sufficient to protect a company until a precedent is set. Fleets should not assume that organising some driver training and telling employees in a driving manual not to use a mobile phone will be a sufficient defence.'
Andrew Dismore, Labour MP for Hendon and a former personal injury lawyer who has campaigned for a change in the manslaughter law, said: 'If a company is carrying out its operations safely it has nothing to worry about. But if an employee kills or is killed and standards which apply fall way short of what's expected, they can face prosecution.'
The Home Office proposals have gone out to consultation until September 1 and then the Government will decide whether to introduce changes to the law. But amid this climate of uncertainty many fleet managers say they are committed to tightening up risk management strategies.