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The new Guideline for judges sets out a range of 1 to 18 years imprisonment. Gross negligence manslaughter is the most serious charge an individual can face following a fatal workplace incident and charges are reserved for only the most serious cases.

The offence requires a “gross” breach of the duty of care owed to the deceased which causes (or significantly contributes to) the death. Very serious mistakes or errors of judgment are nowhere near enough for a crime as serious as manslaughter to be committed. It must show such an indifference to an obviously serious risk of life of the deceased and such a departure from the standard to be expected.

There have been more manslaughter investigations and situations, where early on, there is a statement that manslaughter charges will be brought. The Guideline asks judges to adopt a step by step approach to sentencing, assessing the culpability of the offender, applying aggravating and mitigating features and taking into account a number of other factors.

At the most serious end for Level A “very high” culpability offences there is a starting point of 12 years imprisonment with a range of 10-18 years. At the other end culpability Level D “lower culpability” offences start at 2 years with a range of 1-4 years.

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