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Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill

Overview

The Bill changes the law of culpable homicide in Scotland by creating two new offences. These are where the death of a person is caused recklessly or by gross negligence. Culpable homicide is the term used in Scots law for an offence of causing the death of another person without planning or intending to.  It is different to murder where there is criminal intention, and from causing death by an accident where no-one can be blamed.  These new offences in the Bill are in addition to the current law on culpable homicide. 

The Bill includes:

  • details of what is meant by the two new offences
  • how an individual and an organisation or business may be guilty of each offence
  • the penalties that a court can impose when someone is found guilty of the offences
  • how the new offences apply to the Crown (such as Ministers and employed officials in the Scottish and UK Governments)

You can find out more in the document prepared on behalf of Claire Baker MSP that explains the Bill.

Why the Bill was created

The aim of the Bill is to change the law on culpable homicide. It aims to make sure a person, business or organisation who causes a death can be found guilty of a suitable offence. 

The current law does not seem to be able to apply in the same way to organisations and businesses of different sizes. There have been very few cases of large businesses being prosecuted for culpable homicide where deaths have been caused by their actions. This is because it is hard to identify who in a large business controls the actions that lead to the death. 

The Bill aims to make it clear how people in a large organisation or business can be held responsible for a death. 

You can find out more in the document prepared on behalf of Claire Baker MSP that explains the Bill.

Where do laws come from?

The Scottish Parliament can make decisions about many things like:

  • agriculture and fisheries
  • education and training
  • environment
  • health and social services
  • housing
  • justice and policing
  • local government
  • some aspects of tax and social security

These are 'devolved matters'.

Laws that are decided by the Scottish Parliament come from:

Bill stage timeline

The Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill is currently at Stage 1

Introduced

The Member in charge of the Bill, Claire Baker MSP sends the Bill and related documents to the Parliament.

Bill as introduced Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill

Stage 1 - General principles

Committees examine the Bill. Then MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Stage 2.

Committees involved in this Bill

Lead committee: Justice Committee

Who examined the Bill

Each Bill is examined by a 'lead committee'. This is the committee that has the subject of the Bill in its remit.

It looks at everything to do with the Bill.

Other committees may look at certain parts of the Bill if it covers subjects they deal with.

What is secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation is sometimes called 'subordinate' or 'delegated' legislation. It can be used to:

  • bring a section or sections of a law that’s already been passed, into force
  • give details of how a law will be applied
  • make changes to the law without a new Act having to be passed

An Act is a Bill that’s been approved by Parliament and given Royal Assent (formally approved).

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