Canada's take on Corporate Killing

Submitted by carolyn on Mon, 01/08/2005 - 21:17

By Harry Glasbeek

Published in August 2005

As UK trade unionists eagerly await the introduction of the long promised Corporate Manslaughter Bill, this Comparative Note looks at what we can learn from similar legislation introduced in Canada in 2004.

The Canadian legislation came about following a major industrial accident and the inability of the existing criminal legislation to hold anyone to account. The Bill however, rather than deal with the inherent conflict in capitalist corporations (the push for profit versus the promotion of safety), attempts to redress “narrow technical difficulties created by law and the judiciary”.

To deal with the technical difficulties, the Canadian legislation introduced technical solutions. The first was to identify a suitable person as the “guiding mind and will” of the corporation. The second was to impose a legal duty on that person to take “reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm”. Welcome though these steps were, the solutions introduced new technical difficulties that threaten the usefulness of the Bill.

This publications raises many interesting points of law and principle for UK trade unionists. Its content, focus and timing make it essential reading for all those concerned about the UK regulatory system of health and safety at work.

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