According the Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents some 350 people are killed each year in work-related incidents. Currently when a work related death takes place, if criminal charges are to be brought, it would be under the offence of Involuntary Manslaughter, which when applied to a company becomes Corporate Manslaughter. There have only been three successful UK prosecutions for Corporate Manslaughter. The new offence of Corporate Killing would allow for a company to be prosecuted for causing death as the result of serious management failings.
There have been several high profile cases that have galvanised public calls for a corporate killing law as far back as the 1987 Herald of Free Enterprise ferry disaster. In October 1997 Labour promised to reform the law on Involuntary Manslaughter, and these reforms featured in the Queen's speech in 2000.
Individuals, campaigners and Unions are reported to be feeling repeatedly frustrated over what they see as a lack of action on the part of the government. The publishing in March of a draft bill that covers England and Wales has renewed pressure on Cathy Jamieson, Justice Minister, to introduce a similar bill to the Scottish Parliament. Karen Gillon MSP (Clydeside) is threatening to table her own Members' Bill on the subject, and Unions are stating they will "consider" their position during summer recess should no progress have been made towards a bill.
However some point out the difficulty in framing a law on Corporate Killing, due to several factors, in particular, proving responsibility, defining what is criminal recklessness as opposed to human incompetence and deciding on penalties. In addition, there are concerns that fines could put smaller companies out of business, while jail terms may need a standard of proof that could be impossible to meet, while also deterring managers from running companies in the UK.