26September2022

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Corporate Manslaughter Act has Serious Implications for Employee Keyholders

“Company directors and senior management using their employees as keyholders could leave themselves open to prosecution under the proposed Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2013, if the person is injured or killed while performing that duty”, said Emmet O’Rafferty, chairman of Top Security, one of Ireland’s largest security and alarm monitoring companies.

A keyholder is a person who holds keys and security codes to gain access to a business premises after hours. Their duties usually include being called out to the company premises in the event of an alarm activation. “Many owners and managers use employees for the job and pay them a bit extra to do so but even if that person has agreed to take on the role, this will not stop prosecution under the new Act,” O’Rafferty continued.

The Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2013 was introduced into the Senate in early May. Those prosecuted under the proposed Act could face conviction including an unlimited fine and imprisonment up to 12 years. At present, it is difficult to obtain a prosecution for corporate manslaughter due to the issues in establishing the necessary criminal responsibility or ‘guilty mind’ required for such a case to go ahead. However, the Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2013 will be able to prosecute where it can be shown that the way an organisation’s activities were managed or organised by senior management was a substantial element in causing a person’s death, amounting to a gross breach of a duty of care owed to that person. Senior personnel in non-profit organisations will not be exempt from prosecution under the proposed new law.

Robbery is defined as a crime which includes both theft and a form of violence or threat of violence used to deprive a person or business of their property. According to the CSO latest crime figures, there were 2,818 robberies and hijacking offences in Ireland last year, close to eight per day.

Emmet said, “It is common knowledge that certain types of businesses attract more than their share of robbery and theft-related crimes. If a business owner in those sectors continued to use an employee for keyholding duties, particularly where it involved answering alarm activations after hours, then under the new Act, it could well be construed that they were not acting in the employee’s best interests and breaching their duty of care to that person.”

Tom Casey of Tom Casey solicitors commented, “Criminal law has traditionally been principally concerned with the responsibility of individuals rather than organisations. With this proposed new act, management needs to understand those aspects of their roles that may relate to health and safety and may, therefore, expose them to personal criminal liability. If and when the new Act comes into force, they will need to consider delegating and outsourcing responsibility to experts with adequate insurance and experience in areas where employees are exposed to risk of death or serious risk or harm.”

Source: HortiTrends News Room