An Italian CEO received a long prison sentence and the sentencing of five other executives came after one worker died in the blaze, while six others died later in hospital.
ThyssenKrupps was also fined in relation to the fire, with some reports saying the fine was 1 million Euros and others reporting as much as 9.26 million Euros. The company was also barred from receiving state subsidies for six months.
This case should serve as a warning to UK businesses to take the necessary measures to prevent such catastrophes occurring. We have noticed recently comments from top legal advisor’s that fines for fire safety offences could see fines of up to £100 million
Speaking at the info4fire.com learning zone at International Firex recently Nick McMahon, of Reynolds Porter Chamberlain solicitors, compared the levels of fines under fire safety legislation with those handed down under health and safety law. He gave his warning on the potential level of fire safety fines after a Court of Appeal case last year. In that case, which involved a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the judge, referring to the sentencing guidelines for corporate manslaughter and health and safety offences causing death, commented that “one can well imagine fines of £100 million being imposed…”
While this would not automatically mean fines of that level for fire safety offences, it was an indication of the courts’ growing willingness to consider substantially higher fines in principle . What is clear is that overall, there was an upward trend, even if there are no fatalities.
ThyssenKrupps is a large company and it has expressed its deepest sympathies and regrets that such a tragic accident could have occurred at one of its plants.
Although outside of the U.K. this prosecution should still serve as a reminder to all businesses of the potential costs of not managing fire risks sufficiently. We urge all businesses to check their fire safety risk assessments and ensure the necessary controls are in place to minimise any risks. If not is your senior management team ready for the potential costs of a prosecution?