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Law Case Study

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After analyzing the reading materials which are the Article: M.Tariq, “A 2013 look at the Corporate Killer” (2014) 35(1) The Company Lawyer 17, and the Case Law: R v P & O European Ferries (Dover) Ltd [1991] 93 Cr. App. R. 72, we came up to firstly, identify and comprehend the definition and elements of gross negligence manslaughter using an external example to illustrate this points. Secondly, we discussed the difficulties of imposing liability for gross negligence manslaughter on corporations and how this varies according to the size of corporation. And finally, the key provisions of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (CMCHA) 2007 and the features of the offence that differentiate it from gross negligence manslaughter.

Gross negligence manslaughter is a model of involuntary manslaughter where the defendant is formally acting lawfully. Involuntary manslaughter may emerge where the defendant has caused death but neither intended to give rise to a death nor intended to cause serious bodily harm and consequently does not have the mens rea of homicide. Gross negligence manslaughter can be said to apply where the defendant carries out a lawful act so as to render the activities criminal. And as Janet Loveless (2014) stated is her book:

“The concept of gross negligence applies only to manslaughter and to no other offence. It means extreme carelessness or incompetence and arises where a very serious mistake cases death”

Gross negligence manslaughter consist of four elements:

- Duty of care which refers to the obligation or the legitimate commitment of an individual or organization to abstain from acting in a manner that can cause harms to others by obliging a standard of reasonable care.

- Breach of duty of care happens when an individual or organization fails or neglects to meet the standard of care needed by the law. In other word, a defendant is at risk for carelessness when the defendant ruptures the obligation that the respondent owes to the offended party.

- Causation is in form of two parts. Firstly, Cause in fact under the conventional standards in carelessness cases, an offended party must demonstrate that the defendant’s activities really brought about the offended party’s harm. Secondly, Proximate cause which identifies with the extent of a litigant’s obligation in a negligence case. A defendant in a negligence case is in charge of those damages that the defendant could have predicted through his or her activity.

- Damages a plaintiff in a carelessness case must demonstrate a lawfully recognized harm, generally as physical harm to an individual or to property. It is insufficient that the respondent neglect to practice reasonable care or consideration. The inability to practice reasonable care must result in genuine harm to an individual to whom the defendant owed a duty of care.

To clarify the four elements, we will take as an example the case of R v Bateman 19 Cr App R 8 and as reported by e-lawresources (n.d.):

“A doctor was convicted of manslaughter arising out of his treatment of a woman in childbirth. Lord Hewitt CJ gave the following guidance in relation to gross negligence manslaughter:

"If A has caused the death of B by alleged negligence, then, in order to establish civil liability, the plaintiff must prove (in addition to pecuniary loss caused by the death) that A owed a duty to B to take care, that that duty was not discharged, and that the default caused the death of B. To convict A of manslaughter, the prosecution must prove the three things above mentioned and must satisfy the jury, in addition, that A's negligence amounted to a crime. In the civil action, if it is proved that A fell short of the standard of reasonable care required by law, it matters not how far he fell short of that standard. The extent of his liability depends not on the degree of negligence but on the amount of damage done. In a criminal court, on the contrary, the amount and degree of negligence are the determining question. There must be mens rea."”

In order to establish criminal liability the facts must be such that in the opinion of the jury the negligence of the accused went beyond a mere matter of compensation between subjects and showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the State and conduct deserving punishment."

To understand whether corporation may be guilty of Manslaughter, the case law of P&O European Ferries helped us to clarify this confusion.

Turner J. (n.d.) defined the Manslaughter as an homicide, as it’s is the killing of a human being by another human being which means that the company itself can’t act or cause death.

A corporation is a legal entity made under the authority of the laws that consists of a relationship of various people. And according to Lord Diplock (n.d.), a corporation is an abstract that is unable itself of doing any physical demonstration or being in any perspective. Which implies that the corporation itself can’t carry out the crime and can’t be detained as it is not a natural person, and is not having a state of mind which is normally the requirement of a criminal offence.

In other case and as stated by Mc Naghten (1944):

“A corporation can only have knowledge and form an intention, through its human agents”

Which means that the corporation can be responsible when it knows the intentions of its agents and as we all know, the agents reflect the image of the company. Consequently, the criminal act of an agent, including his perspective, knowledge, and information of conviction is the demonstrations of the company as the workers are controlled by the executives and directors, workers are just hands to do the work. So, the corporation is linked to a human body and as Alex Davis (n.d.) said in his book:

“A corporate body can, under the current law, be found guilty



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