Employer liability proposed for wildlife offences

15th August 2012

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Water ,
  • Resource extraction ,
  • Construction ,
  • Agriculture ,
  • Business & Industry



Companies could be held responsible for wildlife offences committed by their employees under plans from the Law Commission to update conservation rules

In its proposals to simplify and streamline existing wildlife protection rules into a single piece of legislation, the commission has suggested the introduction of vicarious liability, which would hold employers liable for offences committed by their employees in the course of their duties.

The change would follow in the footsteps of Scottish regulation which introduced vicarious liability for wildlife offences last year and would result in a regulatory regime similar to that covering health and safety practices.

The commission admits its plans are contentious and could result in “significant burdens on business”, but it argues that the change would ensure that those ultimately responsible for activities which harm protected species are being held to account.

In asking for feedback on the proposal, the commission reassures organisations that defences would be in place for those with a safe system of work and that employers would not be liable for unsanctioned activities.

The commission’s wider proposals would see the creation of a single statue covering the conservation and protection of wildlife, replacing the “out of date, confused and often contradictory” pieces of species-specific legislation that currently exist.

The new law would not change the existing approach to the protection of wildlife, but would consolidate and simplify the rules covering the conservation of species and biodiversity.

“What we are proposing does not alter the levels of protection currently offered to wildlife, but it will help people understand what their obligations and duties are and what they can and cannot do, and ensure they are properly licensed to do it,” said Frances Patterson QC, who is leading the Law Commission’s project to overhaul wildlife regulation.

Other suggestions made by the commission in its consultation paper include allowing regulators to use the full suite of civil sanctions across all offences and applying consistent criminal penalties for all general wildlife offences of a £5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment.

The commission also proposed that new regulatory powers should be introduced in England and Wales to tackle invasive non-native species. Similar to those recently imposed in Scotland, the commission suggests that regulators should be able to create orders requiring individuals and organisations to notify authorities if invasive species are found on their land and destroy such species.

The commission’s consultation on its proposals runs until 30 November.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Majority of environmental professionals fear green skills gap

Almost three-fifths of UK environmental professionals feel there is a green skills gap across the country’s workforce, or that there will be, a new survey has uncovered.

4th July 2024

Read more

Three in five British adults want more public involvement in the planning system, which could be at odds with Labour’s plans to boost economic growth, IEMA research has found.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

Consumers are flexing their purchasing power in support of more sustainable products and services. Dr Andrew Coburn, CEO of sustainability intelligence and analytics firm, Risilience, considers the risk of greenwashing and sets out three key steps businesses can take to avoid the pitfalls and meet the opportunities of changing consumer demand.

18th June 2024

Read more

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

While biodiversity net gain is now making inroads, marine net gain is still in its infancy. Ed Walker explores the balance between enabling development and safeguarding our marine environment

6th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close