A member's bill to identify who should be held criminally responsible for a fatality caused by an organisation has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Put forward by Claire Baker, Labour member for Mid Scotland & Fife, the Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill would change the law by creating two new offences, causing the death of a person recklessly or by gross negligence, in addition to the current law on culpable homicide. 

Both offences could be committed either by individuals or by non-natural persons. For non-natural persons the recklessness offence is committed where an individual (or a number of individuals when considered together) recklessly causes death while acting within the scope of their employment or on behalf of the non-natural person; and the gross negligence offence where acts or omissions of a natural or non-natural person amount to a "gross breach of a duty of care".

A responsible person can be guilty art and part of the offence where their conduct forms part of the acts constituting the offence.

In all cases the penalty provided is an unlimited fine, and for individuals, imprisonment for any term up to life. 

Ms Baker has promoted her bill as she believes the current law does not seem to be able to apply in the same way to organisations and businesses of different sizes. There have been very few cases of large businesses being prosecuted for culpable homicide where deaths have been caused by their actions, because it is hard to identify who in a large business controls the actions that led to the death. 

 

Click here to access the bill and related papers.