First corporate manslaughter case adjourned

The first trial under the new Corporate Manslaughter Act has been adlourned until early October 2010 because Peter Eaton requires urgent medical treatment.

Peter Eaton and his company Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd. are being jointly charged in the UK’s first prosecution under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter Act.

It is alleged that that the company caused the death of an employee, Mr Alexander Wright, through its systematic failings. Mr Wright, who was employed as a junior geologist, was crushed to death in 2008 when the sides of an excavated pit collapsed on him.

The company is charged with offences under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Mr Eaton, who is the sole director of Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd with gross negligence manslaughter.

We all understand why the case has been adjourned but until the case is concluded, we all remain a little unsure how the Corporate Manslaughter Act might be applied.

The guidelines for sentencing offences show that fines for convictions for health and safety offences that cause death, will seldom be less than £100,000 and £500,000 if a Corporate Manslaughter conviction is secured.