Individual charges in the first corporate manslaughter trial have been dropped due to the accused’s ill health. The long-awaited court case of Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings, due to start last week, has been adjourned until 24 January 2011. Charges of gross negligence manslaughter against its managing director, Peter Eaton, have been dropped due to his ill health.

Sally Roff, partner and head of the Safety, Health and Environment Group at law firm Beachcroft, told Workplace Law Network: “At a time when there is so much scrutiny over the effective use of public funds, one wonders what is to be gained from pursuing a ‘shell’ company.

“There is little prospect of a significant fine being levied on any conviction and it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful guidance on how the Corporate Manslaughter Act is to be interpreted, particularly in terms of who, for the purpose of the Act, would fall into the definition of ‘senior management’.

She added: “Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings was a very small company and it is unlikely that there will be any detailed consideration of who constituted its senior management.

“The Corporate Manslaughter Act has become tarnished with delay both by the time it took to come to the Statute books and now in its implementation.”

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