Courts to check finances of guilty contractors

Grant Prior 14 years ago
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Scottish contractors found guilty of causing deaths on site will no longer be able to dodge hefty fines by pleading poverty.

Courts in the country will soon be able to order background checks on convicted companies’ accounts. Under the current system, companies present their own report on the state of their finances.

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has now agreed to accept an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill proposed by Dr Bill Wilson MSP (West of Scotland, SNP)

The amendment virtually guarantees that Scottish courts will soon be empowered to order background inquiry reports into convicted companies’ finances.

Dr Wilson said: “I trust the Bill will become law and my amendment with it.  This is long overdue.  My research showed that companies found criminally responsible for killing people in Scotland were being fined £12,500 or less in 50% of cases.

“A significant contributing factor to this is the fact that courts have no power to order independent inquiries into companies’ finances.

“As I said to the Justice Committee this morning, it strikes me as ridiculous that we rely on convicted companies to provide the reports which will influence the level of fine.  It is the equivalent of a judge sternly wagging his finger at a convicted housebreaker and saying, ‘You are a terribly naughty fellow.  Now please tell me how much of a fine you can afford to pay?’“

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