Old Bailey Solicitors

Expert Legal Representation for Manslaughter Charges

Our team of experienced solicitors and legal executives are here to provide comprehensive legal assistance for cases involving manslaughter. The law surrounding manslaughter is complex and encompasses multiple offences including unlawful act manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and corporate manslaughter.

Unlawful Act Manslaughter

Unlawful act manslaughter is the most straightforward of the offences of manslaughter. It occurs where someone unintentionally causes the death of another person through committing an unlawful act. An unlawful act is referred to as the ‘base’ offence and can be any illegal act. In reality, these are usually offences against the person, such as a physical assault.

It is unfortunately commonly seen in cases of ‘one punch killings’, where a person is punched by another, which ends up with them sustaining a head injury from hitting the ground and passing away. The unlawful act must cause the death of the victim for the accused person to be guilty of the offence.

The offence requires that, at the time of committing an unlawful act, a reasonable person in the position of the Defendant would have foreseen the risk of, at least harm to the victim at the time. This is objectively assessed, meaning that the person who has committed the unlawful act need not personally foresee the risk of harm by their act, but it would be obvious to a reasonable person.

Despite being the most straightforward type of manslaughter, cases of unlawful act manslaughter can be very complex. They often require expert assessment of the base offence to look at whether the act of the Defendant was the cause of the death.

In cases of unlawful act manslaughter, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable legal team on your side to thoroughly assess the circumstances surrounding the incident. At Old Bailey Solicitors, our solicitors and legal executives have extensive experience in handling the complexities of this nuanced area of law.

We recognise that each case is unique, and we approach each situation with careful consideration and attention to detail regarding your conduct and the acts alleged. Our solicitors will work closely with you to gather evidence, interview witnesses and build a robust defence strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of your case.

Gross Negligence Manslaughter

Gross negligence manslaughter is committed where a person causes the death of another person through a grossly negligent act or omission. The offence does not require an intention to cause harm, but focuses on the level of negligence exhibited by an individual. For an offence to be committed, a person must first owe a duty of care to the individual who dies. There must be a breach of that duty of care, which is ‘grossly’ negligent.

A duty of care can take a number of forms. It can arise from situations such as parent to child, teacher to student, doctor to patient, or more novel scenarios such as a family member caring for an elderly relative or neighbour. A duty of care will arise when the legal tests of proximity, fairness and reasonableness are established.

There must be a breach of that duty, which through an act or omission, causes the death of a person. For an omission to occur, there must be a pre-established duty of care – given there is no general duty of care owed by members of the public, for example, if a person was drowning in a pond, a passer-by cannot be guilty of manslaughter if they simply walk-on-by. However, they may assume a duty of care by starting to help, and then stopping. When considering if there has been a breach of duty, the standards of a reasonable person in the same position as the accused will be considered.

Accordingly, if acting as a doctor, the person will be judged by the standards of the reasonable doctor. The standard of care test is objective, and does not take into account the inexperience of the individual person, so again to use the example of the doctor, if a doctor was to work in a specialised ward, without specialised training, they would be judged by the reasonable standards of a person fulfilling that particular role.

This breach of duty must be so very bad that it can be considered as ‘gross’, or ‘criminal’. Therefore, the legal test asks whether the circumstances were such that a reasonably prudent person in the Defendant’s position would have foreseen a serious and obvious risk of death, and that the breach of duty was in all the circumstances so reprehensible and fell so far below the standards expected from the Defendant, that it amounted to a crime.

The final element is causation. This is an essential element of the offence, which states that the breach of duty caused the death. The law around this area is very complex and requires specialist consideration.

Old Bailey Solicitors have experience in cases of gross negligence manslaughter. We understand the life-changing consequences of conviction for such a serious offence, and the nuanced approach required to build a defence to this charge. We appreciate that you may find yourself charged with this offence having never come into contact with the criminal justice system before, and will work closely with you to ensure you understand every step of the way, whilst building as robust as possible case.

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Corporate Manslaughter

Corporate manslaughter is in many ways similar to gross negligence manslaughter, but the duty of care must be owed by a company. The breach must involve the way in which the organisation’s activities were managed or organised by the company’s senior management. This means that the breach of duty of care is likely linked to decisions or policies made by those in significant positions of authority within the company.

A relevant duty of care in corporate manslaughter cases includes, but is not limited to, duties owed by the employer to their employees, duties owed to occupiers of premises, duties owed in carrying on of any commercial activities, or in cases of detention, a duty owed by reason of being responsible for the safety of a person in custody, secure accommodation or as a detained person.

These cases can have severe penalties for companies, including fines and significant reputational damage. Our experienced legal team can offer you expert guidance to navigate the intricacies of this offence and assist in building a robust defence strategy. We look to protect your and your company’s rights, whether you are a small business or a large corporation, our dedicated solicitors are committed to supporting you every step of the way, ensuring your case is handled with the utmost care and professionalism.

Facing any charge of manslaughter is an incredibly serious and distressing situation, with significant legal and personal consequences. How we can help:

Expert Legal Advice: From the moment you engage with our services, we offer clear, practical and strategic advice tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. We can help you to not only understand the charges, legal processes and potential outcomes, but will robustly advise you to give you the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.

Thorough Investigation: We conduct meticulous investigations to gather and analyse all relevant evidence in your case, including witness statements, physical evidence and expert opinion and reports. Our goal is to build the strongest defence for you to support your case and give you the best possible prospects.

Experienced Advocacy and Litigation: Old Bailey Solicitors have years of strength in litigating the most serious cases, including those involving the death of another. Our specialist homicide solicitors are on-hand to assist you, if you find yourself involved in the death of another. We also have a wide-range of contacts and strong professional relationships with some of the most senior and serious barristers in the country and will assess every case on its individual circumstances to choose the right advocate for you.

At Old Bailey Solicitors, our commitment to excellence and justice ensures you receive the highest quality legal representation in your manslaughter case. Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you navigate this challenging time with expertise and dedication.

Old Bailey Solicitors have been exceptional in handling my case and making it as worry free as possible for me. Old Bailey Solicitors assisted me through every step of my case and went above and beyond expectations to achieve an outcome in the Crown Court which avoided a custodial sentence, for this I am very grateful.

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