24 Jun 2015

Corporate manslaughter law considered

6:50 am on 24 June 2015

The Justice Minister is pushing for the introduction of a corporate manslaughter offence which would allow companies to be prosecuted over workplace deaths.

National MP, Amy Adams.

National MP, Amy Adams. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

In a statement, Amy Adams said there needed to be a clear pathway for prosecutions against corporations for employees who died as a result of serious failings.

"It's my view that the most natural place this is as part of the Health and Safety reform legislation," she said.

Lawyer Nigel Hampton QC said the offence would work well in New Zealand, and prosecutions could even cover Government departments.

He said an example of this would be the Department of Corrections in relation to the death of Jai Davis in an Otago prison in 2011.

"The deterrent of irresponsible behaviour by corporations is important," he said.

"It could have some interesting applications to the Corrections department in the Jai Davis situation and the multiple failings that happened there."

He said a corporate manslaughter offence in England had been successful since its introduction seven years ago.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said she also supported the move.

"There is a huge gap in the current health and safety legislation with no provision in the legislation as it stands for a corporate manslaughter charge," she said.

"It is good news that there are some responsible MPs within National willing to push for better health and safety laws."