New Sentencing Guidelines
Failure of security leading to personal injury
New sentencing guidelines came into affect for cases involving working injury brought before English Magistrates and County Courts after 1st February 2016.
Legal opinion supports a view of the guidelines spelling a sea-change in the law’s dealing with proven breaches of safety regulation. Weight of law will move from the traditional concept of assessing seriousness of injury inflicted to that of judging the risk involved.
This move was aimed at larger companies paying a far heavier penalty for their failures.
It may classify even a near miss in the same class as a fatality, as risk might have been similar, and with mere chance being the only real difference between life and death.
Another outcome will be a factor accounting for those others who might have been exposed to that risk. Even if uninjured. A leading barrister cannot recall an incident in his career where the risk of injury in an event was ever restricted to just one person.
It is anticipated that fines and imprisonment will rise, with the responsibility quotient dropping down lower within the managerial structure, onto even quite junior employees.
Until now, discussion of the new legal structure has centred, perhaps understandably, upon lapses of safety procedure and of corporate manslaughter. But it seems logical that failure to provide reasonable security protection might well be drawn into the net.
AITCo Consulting had first hand insight into attitudes to corporate failure during the City of London bombing campaigns back in the 1990’s.
A senior official at the City HQ of a US bank asked for his skyscraper office’s glass to be upgraded. The reply from New York was short. The IRA, apparently, would never dare to attack a major US corporation in London. That statement’s implicit lack of logic was soon revealed and an urgent upgrading of the Company’s glass stock was quickly agreed.
The change of heart was simple. Blast pressure knows no boundaries, nor understands commercial niceties. Known security risks existed and that bank’s foreign nationals could take injury claims into US courts. Compensation would then have been vastly better than from British courts, which expected a greater degree of stoicism from its citizens.
And the legal outlook now for the City of London? There is a known threat of extreme, unannounced violence. Drastic new sentencing guidelines are now in place. How long before a terrorist incident triggers a massive new legal response from its victims?
High time, perhaps, for UK industry and commerce to act and forestall the inevitable.