Monavon Construction Ltd has been ordered to pay £573,653 in fines and costs, an amount which is more than the Company’s annual turnover.
The penalties were imposed following the Company’s guilty plea to offences of corporate manslaughter and section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Both offences resulted from an incident at a building site in London in 2013 where two members of the public died.
Following sentencing guidelines introduced in February this year, the Court used the Company’s turnover to identify the range of fines available then fixed the final amount based on the seriousness of the offences and any additional aggravating and mitigating features.
Application of the guidelines and the decision in this case might offer some certainty of the potential size of penalty for micro organisations (those with a turnover of less than £2million). However, the approximate £8million of fines handed out to larger construction companies since the guidelines came into force illustrate the general upward trend in the size of fines passed.
All of these decisions are intended to send a clear message to the business community, which is stated in the guidelines themselves – that fines must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to management and shareholders the need to achieve a safe environment for workers and members of the public.