Management of gross negligence manslaughter liability construction for professionals and lessons learned

Mu Chun Liao, Ting Ya Hsieh, Wei Hsiang Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: By inspecting the special connection between negligence and the causes of negligence, this study evaluates the reasonableness of negligence offenses elements from the perspectives of “modes” and “rules.” This study considers that in the core concept of negligent manslaughter in the Criminal Code of Taiwan, “business” comprises an outstretched legal element; thus, “application by analogy” or “customary laws” should be prohibited as a legal basis or when applying the criminal code because those are not allowed under nulla poena sine lege. Nulla poena sine lege must be respected to release construction professionals from material risks in their judicial rights and interests. Design/methodology/approach: This study used data mining analysis with a database of 204 cases where construction professionals were involved in an accusation of gross negligence manslaughter (GNM) (N = 486) between 1995 and 2021 to explore the reasons and distribution of these cases in the construction industry in Taiwan. Findings: The results showed that the main reasons behind lawful GNM accusations against construction professionals are as follows: (1) the violation of employers' duty of care to prevent hazards caused in workplaces where falling and collapsing are concerns during construction, thus resulting in death; (2) gross negligence during design, construction and supervision, causing damages after natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. Research limitations/implications: This study discusses the whole life circle of construction, starting from planning, design, construction and completion. However, the involvement of other offenses such as providing false statements, forgery, embezzlement, unjust enrichment and fraudulent tax evasion or criminal responsibilities stipulated in the Building Act or administrative punishments are beyond the scope of this study. Future studies will focus on foreign “business GNM” cases from judicial precedents with similar backgrounds to Taiwan in the construction industry to verify whether similar conclusions can be drawn and to examine their differences. Practical implications: This study applied data mining and data analysis to the data and explored potential causality and patterns of GNM cases in judicial cases. The results of the analyses can be used as evidence for potential causality and thus facilitate construction professionals' self-reflection and contribute to the sustainable development of working environments for construction. Social implications: This study agrees with the removal of GNM titled “business” in the Criminal Code of Taiwan to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the building industry. By doing so, national judicial and management systems will be in line with international standards, ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice. Originality/value: Goal 16 of the SDGs by the United Nations aims to promote judicial equality, peace, justice and strong institutions. With this basis, this study collected and analyzed data in the field of criminal law and applied the theory of criminal offenses committed by negligence to real construction-related cases. This study especially discusses whether construction professionals were imposed with excessive responsibilities when a court enforced the “duty of care” that asked the professionals to bear the responsibility of results for events that should be and could be foreseen.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Case study
  • Constructions education
  • Decision support systems
  • Risk management


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