In recent years the burden of compliance on companies and individuals has increased many times over in this area. The Sentencing Council has issued new guidance on sentences for corporate manslaughter and health and safety cases. For those convicted substantial fines and publicity orders are recommended by the guidelines contained in that guidance.
We have advised clients in substantial and grave health and safety cases including gross negligence manslaughter cases.
We also assist and advice individuals who find themselves involved in Coroner’s Inquests or public enquiries. An inquest tries to establish who and in what circumstances a death has occurred. A detailed examination carried out by the Coroner or Judge into the surrounding circumstances follows rules of procedure different from those of any other tribunal requiring expert assistance.
We have in the past represented those connected to the deceased as well as individuals who are summonsed to give evidence at an inquest into the death of another.
Inquests and public enquiries are by their very nature especially sensitive, often attracting consoderable media attention. We are alert to these issues ensuring that clients remain protected so far as possible throughout these difficult proceedings.
In the case of the bereaved family an inquest may be the only opportunity to discover what happened to the deceased. It is essential to ensure that the family and the Coroner are given the scope to make a thorough investiagtion. In so doing, we draw upon our huge experience of criminal litigation to present and test the evidence placed before the Coroner to ensure that the questions the family need to be answered are addressed.
For a witness the experience of attending an inquest can have serious consequences. Although the Coroner is not permitted to apportion blame or responsibility for the death, individuals can be compelled to give evidence at the public hearing and a failure to do so well often result in a fine being imposed. Matters raised at the inquest can lead to a subsequent criminal investigation. Hogan Brown can advise such a witness so that he or she is properly prepared for the hearing and any potential action that may follow.