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10 Jun 2022

Law Commission (UK)

UK: Law Commission publishes its options for Govt. to reform corporate criminal liability

"Law Commission sets out options to Government for reforming how companies are convicted of criminal offences", 10 Jun 2022

The Commission was asked by the Government to carry out a review of the law on corporate criminal liability, and present a set of options for strengthening the law, in a way that does not overburden businesses.

The review followed concerns that the law falls short in adequately holding corporations – especially large companies – to account, particularly for economic crimes such as fraud.

Under current law, companies and other “non-natural persons” can be prosecuted for a range of crimes in England and Wales, which can also include environmental or regulatory offences...

In its new paper, the Law Commission today presents ten reform options to the Government. The proposed reforms are designed to ensure that corporations of all forms can be properly convicted of crimes, without placing an administrative burden on law-abiding businesses.

The options for reform to corporate criminal liability include widening the scope for attributing liability to corporations for the conduct of senior management – which would reform the established “identification doctrine”.

It also contains the option of extending “failure to prevent” offences so that they capture other economic crimes by corporations, including an offence of “failure to prevent fraud”. This would cover a situation in which the company has failed to put measures in place to prevent their own employees or agents committing fraud for the benefit of the company.

New financial penalties and reporting requirements for corporations are also presented as possible reform measures.