Two bites of the apple- limitation in professional negligence cases
On 3 February 2015 Cumbrian building firm Peter Mawson Ltd became the latest company to be convicted of corporate manslaughter. The conviction followed the death of Jason Pennington who was killed in 2011 when he fell through a skylight onto concrete. The company, which pleaded guilty to the offence, was fined £220,000, as well as costs of £31,500.
In addition to the financial penalty the company received a publicity order. This is one of only a small number of cases in which such an order has been made. The power to make such an order is found in in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 (“CMCHA”) Section 10 and states that the court may require an organisation convicted of corporate manslaughter to publicise in a specified manner: the fact that it has been convicted of the offence, specified particulars of the offence, the amount of any fine imposed, and the terms of any remedial order made.
In this case the court ordered the company to advertise the facts of its conviction through a half page advertisement in a local newspaper and a notice on its own website.
Alongside his company, its proprietor, Peter Mawson, also pleaded guilty to associated health and safety charges. He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years and required to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
This conviction is the seventh in the past 12 months, which is by far the highest number of convictions in any 12 month period since CMCHA came into force in April 2008.
For the HSE press report see the HSE website.
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