Corporate criminal liability : an analytical study of the application of the criminal law to companies and to their directing management
The aim of this thesis is to analyse the concept of corporate criminal liability in Britain and elsewhere when comparison is needed. The concept of holding a corporation criminally liable is not new, it has been known for a long time, but the development in the last century and especially in the last quarter of this century is the main reason to turn and focus the public's attention towards blaming corporations for a quite wide range of society's ills. As a result of decisions by corporate executives or managers, and because corporation's negligence and pursuit of profits at any cost, may cause harm and inflicted risks on workers, consumers and the general public. It can be shown that many accidents indicate willful violations of health, safety and environmental regulations. Despite the fact that violations may cause serious harm to the entire communities (eg cases of toxic chemical dumps, and radioactive water leaking from improperly maintained nuclear reactors), nonetheless prosecution of corporation is not always successful. Moreover, while corporations are accused of polluting the environment, and are blamed for destroying the economic structure of a community, at the same time they may be praised for community service projects, and be credited with providing jobs. The concept of the separate legal personality of corporations has posed many questions when dealing with corporations or their executives and managers. Even with the development of the criminal law regarding the concept of crime and the various attempts to bring corporations under the umbrella of criminal law the problem have not fully resolved. Practical problems occur when considering whether corporations are capable of acting themselves. This thesis is an attempt to follow the development of corporate criminal liability, discuss the present state of the law and ask what is the best view which should be taken to achieve the goal of criminal law to control all kinds of behaviour that are appropriate to be controlled by the criminal law whether of individuals or corporations and other forms of organizations. The views of those who argue that companies cannot be subjected to criminal punishment because they do not have the requisite mens rea to commit crimes, and because of the difficulty of imposing certain penalties such as imprisonment or the death penalty on corporations, are incorrect. Changes in public attitudes towards wrongful conduct by corporations and their increasing role in every aspect of daily life, bringing with it increasing number of accidents and disasters has led to a corpus of literature which is prepared to attribute blame to corporations for their misbehaviour.