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A leading Scots lawyer has called for new legislation that will devalue the shares of firms found guilty in corporate killing cases.

And to help the Courts determine who should be held accountable every company should be required to have a named individual as the Health and Safety director.

The demand for these changes to current legislation is being made by Patrick McGuire of Thompsons Solicitors in Glasgow.

He is also a member of the expert panel set up by Scottish Executive Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson that is currently examining how the law can be strengthened to introduce tougher penalties for companies involved in incidents that lead to deaths.

Mr McGuire was speaking after Transco were fined a record £15 million at the High Court in Edinburgh for breaches of the Health and Safety legislation that caused the deaths of a family of four in a gas explosion in Larkhall.

He said:” Transco are unhappy about the scale of the fine but when set against profits last year of £1.5 Billion they’ve got off lightly. What I’d like to see is a system of ‘equity fines’ that would allow a Judge to order a company’s share price to be devalued. This type of penalty already exists in the USA.

“That would mean all shareholders being hit and they in turn could put pressure on the management. It is also possible to set fines as a percentage of turnover.”

Mr McGuire also believes there is a simple solution to helping the Courts decide which individual within a company should be held responsible for corporate killing or other serious incidents.

He said:” In the Transco case Lord Carloway found it impossible to decide which one person was responsible for the Larkhall incident. That kind of confusion can be overcome by all companies having to name a Health and Safety director.

“That individual would be the one that could be fined, jailed or disqualified as a director if their firm was found guilty of serious breaches of Health and Safety regulations.”

“This is an idea being promoted by the Transport Workers union and UCATT who represent construction trades, an industry where Scotland has seen more than its fair share of deaths caused by corporate negligence.”

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