First corporate manslaughter case adjourned until September 16 Feb 2010

The first prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007 (“the 2007 Act”) has been adjourned until September.

The prosecution was due to start on Friday 26 February at Bristol Crown Court however is now adjourned (the date to be fixed in September) because the sole director of Cotswolds Geotechnical Holdings Limited (“Cotswolds”), Peter Eaton, requires urgent medical attention.

Mr Justice Field told the jury. “What has happened in this case is that I have acceded to the application of the defence to adjourn this trial for a longish period because the defendant Mr Eaton requires urgent and intensive medical treatment. It would be unfair to require him to participate in this trial at the same time as undergoing this treatment.”

Mr Eaton faces a charge of common law manslaughter, the maximum penalty for which is life imprisonment, whilst Cotswolds faces charges under the 2007 Act and under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

The maximum sentence for Cotswolds under the 2007 Act is an unlimited fine.

The case centres on the death of Alex Wright, a young geologist who was taking soil samples in a trench which subsequently collapsed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

This article first appeared in Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service, and has been reproduced with their permission. For more information about Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com.