Cooperate Manslaughter

Cooperate Manslaughter Bill

(A must and urgent Bill to be drawn up, Debated and passed in the national assembly)

What is 'corporate manslaughter'?
A company acts through the human agency of its directors, managers and staff. Where a company due to grossly negligent act or omission by a person(s) who is the “controlling mind” of the company results in the immediate cause of death of its employees, the public or other individual, it can be considered an act of corporate manslaughter.
In order to convict a company of manslaughter it must be shown that a causal link existed between a grossly negligent act or omission by a person who is the “controlling mind” of the company and the immediate cause of death.

It is difficult to envisage circumstances in which a company will be involved in “voluntary manslaughter” Corporate manslaughter will, therefore, normally be considered in the context of “involuntary manslaughter by means of gross negligence”.

The House of Lords (UK) laid down a four stage test for involuntary manslaughter by means of a grossly negligent act or omission which must be considered also in the Nigerian context (R.v. Adomako (1995) 1 AC 171)

· Did the defendant owe a duty of care towards the victim who has died?
· If so, has the defendant breached that duty of care?
· Has such breach caused the victim's death? (The law of negligence must be applied to ascertain whether or not there has been a breach of the duty);
· If so, was that breach of duty so bad as to amount, when viewed objectively, to gross negligence warranting a criminal conviction?

There are a wide variety of circumstances in which these considerations may need to be given to indicting a company for manslaughter arising out of its operations. The victims of fatal accidents may be employees or customers of the company in question or members of the public. Common examples are:
· Work-related fatal accidents arising out of unsafe systems of work.
· Fatal accidents resulting from the provision of unsafe goods or services.
· Fatal road traffic accidents in cases where company or its contractor’s vehicles are unsafe.

( All Examples ever so common occuranc in Nigeria)

Companies and Fatal Road Traffic Accidents

Fatal road accidents involving road haulage or petroleum products transport companies cause much public anxiety.
We have seen many cases in the country where death has resulted from a road traffic accident caused by a defective vehicle, over worked truck drivers, poor strapping of Loads, e.g. carets, pipes and containers on trucks.
Where the company, through one of its controlling officers, was responsible for any lack of maintenance of the vehicle concerned and insistence on the continued working of a stress and fatigue drivers such organization should be held liable.

Role of the, under listed bodies must as a mater of urgency be re evaluated

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) public and private.
The Nigerian Police
Federal road safety commissions
Various state road safety monitoring agencies


What penalties will a company face in a case of Corporate Manslaughter?

Penalties should include an unlimited fine, remedial orders and publicity orders. Such remedial order will require an organisation to take steps to remedy any management failure that led to death.
The court can impose an order publicising the fact the company has been convicted of the offence, providing details, the amount of any fine imposed and the terms of any remedial order made.


Final comments
Many individuals/organizations ,both Nigerian and foreign companies are just profit centered, they post huge profits annually and yet they have employees who are over work, and under pay Nigerians and work with poor or faulty tools ,equipments and gadgets.
With the further invasion of the Nigerian economy by the
Chinese
Indians
Lebanese, other foreigners and the Ongoing push for Nigerianization and Nigerian content in the Oil and gas sectors this bill and its enforcement when passes is a must.

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