Fleet News

Fleets await new corporate manslaughter law

FLEET decision-makers are waiting with bated breath this week following news that the Government would announce legislation for the much-discussed new offence of corporate manslaughter, which would then become law within the next year.

The Home Office was expected to announce a new offence making it easier for companies to be prosecuted should they be found to be grossly negligent and fleets are looking at how the legislation could affect them.

Fleet decision-makers urged for clarity on how any penalties for negligence regarding at-work road safety would be applied.

David Faithful, a partner at Amery-Parkes solicitors, said: 'This has been floating around for a while but we are likely to only have the bare bones of what the legislation would say. Any announcement coming out will not necessarily have the fine detail of how it will be applied.'

The present law makes it difficult for the Crown Prosecution Service to find one director guilty of corporate negligence for the firm as a whole. The principle objective of the new law is to simplify prosecution of firms involved in major public disasters, such as the rail incidents at Southall, Paddington and Potters Bar.

However, the new law could be applied to fleets if it was found a driver caused a death or deaths where the employer was found not to have fulfilled its duty of care. Bodies that were involved in the consultation process were also unaware of exactly how the law would appear, with the Trades Union Congress welcoming any move that protected its members.

The Association of Car Fleet Operators said it would be studying any new consultation with interest to see how it would affect fleets.

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