Corporate Criminal Liability: Sanctions and Remedial Action

Published date01 April 1996
Date01 April 1996
AuthorMichael Jefferson
Subject MatterAccounting & finance
Corporate Criminal Liability: Sanctions and
Remedial Action
Michael Jefferson
Journal of Financial Crime Vol. 4 No. 2 Corporate Liability
This article advances the proposition that there is
occurring a sea-change in the sanctions imposed by
courts when companies breach the criminal law. It
focuses on the publication of the Law Commis-
sion's Report No. 237, 'Legislating the Criminal
Code: Involuntary Manslaughter', of March 1996,
questions the effectiveness of the proposed court
order compelling remedial action, and suggests
that other sanctions should be considered. It
should be noted that the Commission's recom-
mendations are not necessarily restricted to the law
of manslaughter, but are potentially applicable to
all violations of criminal law including financial
The Law Commission proposes a new offence of
corporate killing to replace the present crime of
(corporate) manslaughter. The offence, which
would be restricted to deaths caused by corporate
bodies, would be committed when the company's
conduct which resulted in death fell far
level which could reasonably be expected. Causa-
tion would be proved by demonstrating that the
death was occasioned by a failure in the methods
by which the company's activities were managed
or organised to ensure the health and safety of
employees or those affected by these activities.
This proposed crime would be distinguished from
the proposed crime of killing by gross carelessness
which would apply to natural persons by the lack
of a further element, that either the risk was an
obvious one or the accused was capable of realising
that the risk existed. These offences would replace
the present law of manslaughter by gross negli-
gence, which in turn replaced the crime of reckless
manslaughter.1 The crime of unlawful act or con-
structive manslaughter would be abolished.
The Commission proposes that the normal range
of punishments ordinarily a fine — should be

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