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Manslaughter Act gets first case

A small engineering business may face an unlimited fine for manslaughter as the first case evoking the 2008 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act is argued in court.

Representatives of Gloucestershire-based engineering consultancy Cotswold Geotechnical are appearing this week at Winchester Crown Court accused of the manslaughter of geologist Alexander Wright, who died when he was crushed in a trench while collecting soil samples for the company.

Before the 2008 Act, cases such as this were rarely brought to court because the law required an individual to be named as the defendant, but the new act makes companies liable even if there is no single individual within the company’s management to blame. Cotswold Geotechnical could face an unlimited fine if found guilty in what will be viewed as a test case.

HR Magazine reports that Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings director Peter Eaton had been charged with gross negligence manslaughter, but the case was stayed due to his ill health.

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