Skip to main content

Sentencing guidelines

The consultation on the review and major increase in fines for H&S, Corporate manslaughter and food/hygiene offences ends on 18 Feb.

The consultation on the review and major increase in fines for H&S, Corporate manslaughter and food/hygiene offences ends on 18 Feb.

News as to when it is envisaged they will come into force varies from June/July to Sept/Oct 2015.

Health & safety lawyers are already advising clients charged with offences in the last month or so that if convicted they may well fall within the new fines system due to the delays in listing of cases particularly in the Crown Court.

Some defendants may consider that an early guilty plea in the magistrates court is going to be less costly than a contested hearing there or in Crown Court where the trial may be delayed until after the new regime is in force especially if the June start date turns out to be correct.

The starting point for fines is going to be turnover for corporate defendants. Whilst the lower end of the scale regards any business with a turnover of less than £2m being “micro” for sentencing purposes the upper end of the scale applies to turnover in excess of £50m. The latter is likely to apply to many companies which are publicly quoted.

For a high culpability offence of corporate manslaughter with aggravating features this would, according to the consultation document, see the fine escalate to £20m.

In health and safety cases of high harm and high culpability but not at the worst end of the scale a fine could give a sentencing court a range of £1.5m to £6m with a starting point of £2.4m.

In the Weightmans workshops with representatives of UK companies the predominant view was, despite the above and somewhat to our surprise, that fine levels are generally low and need to be higher so in essence our consultees did not disagree with the principle of a substantial increase in fines.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the SGC consultation paper.