Concern at the implications of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, which becomes law on April 6, should not extend to companies sending holidaymakers abroad.


Lawyers argue the travel industry has escaped the toughening of the law, which has been in preparation for 20 years.


The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 should see UK companies exposed to a wider range of offences, increased police investigations and tougher sanctions for breaches of health and safety.


The act allows prosecution of a company – and those who run it – following a death, if the way the organisation is run is considered a contributing factor, making executives potentially responsible for a fatal accident.


However, tour operators will not be liable under the act for clients killed overseas. Whether they are subject to prosecution will be left to the judicial systems of the individual countries in which they operate.


In the words of leading travel industry lawyer Peter Stewart of Field Fisher Waterhouse: “Far from imposing increased sanctions on outbound tour operators, the act reduces the existing sanctions and penalties they may face. The one imponderable thing is whether there will be a rise in overseas investigations.”


The legislation does allow the prosecution of individuals for manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence, but this is difficult to establish.


Inbound tour operators, airlines operating out of the UK, cruiselines with UK-registered ships and tour operators offering transfers within the UK will be liable under the act.