27 September 2016
Nick Barnard comments on Merlin Entertainment’s £5m fine in the FT and The Brief
Merlin Entertainment, the operator for Alton Towers, has been fined £5 million for the rollercoaster crash that occurred June 2015, resulting in five seriously injured individuals, including two young women requiring leg amputations.
Nick Barnard, associate at law firm Corker Binning, commented “A fine of £5 million will come as a surprise to some, who had expected that the court would use this as an opportunity to set the bar for future high-level sentences. A significant reason for this is that the court elected not to move beyond the sentence ranges contained in the published guidelines, which it would have been entitled to do for a ‘very large’ company such as Merlin.
As such, although the court agreed with the HSE that Merlin’s culpability was ‘high’ and the harm caused of the highest category, the sentence remained within the suggested range of up to £6 million for such an offence. Therefore, although £5 million would have been an extremely significant fine prior to the new guidelines being introduced in February 2016, we have still yet to see a case which really tests the upper limits of sentencing for very large organisations.”