Care home owners beware: piercing the corporate veil?
A recent manslaughter judgment, which saw a care home owner jailed for 3 years and 2 months, could mean a significant shift in the treatment of corporate bodies owning care homes.
The care home was owned by Sherwood Rise Limited, a company through which Yousaf Khan owned and operated Autumn Grange Care Home. The company itself was fined £300,000 and, in a landmark decision, Yousaf Khan himself was found personally liable for the corporate manslaughter of Ivy Atkin, who was 86 at the time of her death and weighed just 3st 12lbs, after pleading guilty to gross negligence. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 8 years.
The Crown Prosecution Service explained that despite intervention, guidance and warnings from outside agencies and concerns raised by staff, the defendants failed to provide adequate personal care, nutrition, accommodation and support. This illustrates that the standards of a care home are no longer the responsibility of the staff in charge on the ground. This judgment clearly demonstrates the importance of those in positions of power within the company who own the business and their maintenance of the standards in which the residents are living.
The Defendant Company, and specifically Mr Khan were also found to have breached their duty of care having been consistently made aware of the issues the residents were facing and taking no action.
The Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act 2007 allows for the personal prosecution of Care Home Owners following the death of residents if they are found to be at fault, however, many Directors of such businesses are still unaware of their potential liability for criminal charges.
If you have any concerns about the running or ownership of care homes please contact Neil Cook, head of our Business Services department on 01202 636208.