On 9 June 2021 at 4.30pm, our Corporate Crime and Investigations team will be hosting an event where the Law Commission will launch its review of the law relating to corporate criminal liability in England and Wales.
This is a fundamentally important issue for companies: in what circumstances should it be possible to prosecute the company for the criminal acts of individuals – whether officers, employees or third parties – undertaken on its behalf? Reform could have significant implications both for companies' exposure to prosecution and for compliance resources, in particular if an offence of 'failure to prevent economic crime' is introduced in the model of the Bribery Act.
For many years there have been calls for a reform of corporate criminal liability and complaints that it is 'too difficult' to prosecute large companies. Following the Ministry of Justice's Call for Evidence on Corporate Liability for Economic Crime in 2017, the Government concluded that there was no clear consensus from respondents on what reform (if any) should be put in place. In November 2020, the Government therefore asked the Law Commission to examine this issue and provide advice to HM Government on options for an appropriate, principled, basis for attributing criminal liability to non-natural persons that works regardless of the structure or size of the entity in question. As part of its review, the Law Commission plans to publish a Discussions Paper on its work so far on the options available.
Please join us for the first event in a series of virtual panel discussions, in which experts in this field discuss their views on the options for reform going forward, inviting input from audience members. In particular, speakers will include the Law Commissioner for Criminal Law, Professor Penney Lewis, who is jointly overseeing this project with Professor Sarah Green, the Law Commissioner for Commercial and Common Law.
We look forward to welcoming you to what promises to be an interesting discussion.
Susannah Cogman, Brian Spiro, Daniel Hudson and Kate Meakin
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© Herbert Smith Freehills 2021