guilty of gross negligence which is a difficult task. What happens in most cases
is that those who get singled out for the offence are often the corporate directors
or managers. Again, it must also be established in this case that there is
sufficient evidence to convict.
The UK government itself through the IBB Solicitors ("Corporations,
Directors and Corporate Killing") admit that "corporations are notoriously difficult to prosecute under the current provisions (of the law)." In one case of workplace
death involving a company called Herald of Free Enterprise, the IBB Solicitors
noted the court's failure to identify the controlling mind although it was found that
the said company was "infected from top to bottom with the disease of
sloppiness" and "staggering complacency."
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working
Conditions likewise pointed out that under existing UK laws, a company can be convicted only if an individual who can be identified as the embodiment of the company itself is found guilty. This is a tall order. Because of the difficulty of identifying a senior manager as the controlling mind, the European foundation
observed that "it is virtually impossible to successfully prosecute large companies." As a result, the UK courts have so far secured only a total of eight
convictions for corporate killing, and all the cases involved directors of small
companies at that.
The reason is that in small companies the bosses are few which make it
relatively easier to pinpoint the controlling mind. In bigger companies, the lines
of responsibility and management layers are complex, such that decisions related to workplace safety...
This is a tall order. Because of the difficulty of identifying a senior manager as the controlling mind, the European foundation
1) Government to introduce corporate killing law. European Industrial Relations Observatory on-line. European Foundation for the improvement of living and working conditions. Available from: