Tough new regulation sparks a call to action for businesses with fleets 

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Fleet owners are being urged to check their insurance following tough new sentencing guidelines that came into force in February.

The new sentencing guidelines mean stiffer penalties for firms that have breached health and safety regulations in cases of serious injury or death.

New sentencing means firms can be hit with a penalty of up to £20m for corporate manslaughter and a £10m fine for health and safety breaches.

Firms with much more than £50m turnover could be clobbered with even bigger fines. 

Even firms that has caused a low degree of damage can be hit with fines of anywhere between £3,000 and £60,000. 

Richard Brown, managing director of an online driving licence checking service, called LICENCECHECK, said: “The risk to those operating fleets, regardless of size should not be overlooked as the consequences could be more painful than ever.

“A company’s ‘home-made’ policies no longer provide adequate protection. However, merely putting a policy in place does not offer enough protection – it must also be enforced rigorously.”

Brown said grey fleet - staff who use their own cars for work - should also be considered in the risk management. 

“A prudent employer should ensure these vehicles are properly insured, serviced and maintained by their owners and properly record this information. The risk is now too great to simply ignore,” he said. 

New penalties affecting all firms

The new penalties stretch well beyond fleet and affect nearly every business. 

The impact of the new guidelines have been immediately felt by oil and gas explorer ConocoPhillips. The firm was hit with a £3m fine in February for unexpected gas releases. 

A sentencing tracker from law firm BLM will update on how firms are being fined under the tougher new guidelines. Click here to see the latest case examples. 

BLM said prosecutors were pushing hard for fines and the starting points for fines were moving higher. 

“Our experience in court is that prosecutors are pushing hard to push cases into higher harm and culpability categories which has a significant impact on the starting point for the fine. 

“For a large organisation with a turnover of over £50 million, very high culpability and the highest category of harm attracts a starting point fine of £4 million with a range of between £2.6m and £10 million.”