Government has this week proposed a new measure that should make it more likely that the corporate manslaughter bill, currently before the House of Lords, will be passed, said regulatory experts at law firm Eversheds.
The Bill is currently being held up over the Lords' insistence that it covers deaths of prisoners being held in police custody. The government has refused to include this in the new law but said it will instead ensure that the measures can be incorporated into legislation in the future.Eversheds regulatory partner David Young, said: 'The proposal to extend the law to cover deaths in custody in the future without the need for a new Bill is a modest compromise by the government, but it remains to be seen whether it will be accepted by the House of Lords. That said, the government is determined to pass the Bill before the cut-off point of 20 July, and this move is designed to achieve that, possibly even before Tony Blair stands down as Prime Minister. What is clear is that abolishing the Bill is not an option,' he said
The main aim of the bill is to make it easier to bring prosecutions against companies found to be liable for manslaughter following major health and safety breaches that result in fatalities. However, the Bill has faced much scrutiny, particularly from the House of Lords, which earlier this year rejected the government's proposal to exclude deaths in custody in prisons, police cells and psychiatric hospitals from the legislation. This week the Commons voted on an amendment that would not extend the new law to deaths in custody immediately, but would make it easier for a future Government to do so without requiring fresh legislation. The Government is hoping to appease the Lords sufficiently that they will now back the Bill, enabling Royal Assent to be given before 20 July. If this fails, the Bill will fail and would need to be brought back in a future Parliamentary session.