Today, the Law Commission published its report into corporate criminal liability and provided ten options for the Government to consider when looking at future changes to the law to ensure that corporations are effectively held to account.
The options for reforming corporate criminal liability includes attributing liability to corporates for the conduct of senior management which would reform the scope of the established "identification doctrine".
It also includes the option for extending "failure to prevent" offences so that they can 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 reasonable measures in place to prevent its own employees or agents committing fraud for the benefit of the company.
MPs have reportedly criticised the Law Commission's proposals.
For example, there is criticism that the Law Commission did not include a proposed offence of failing to prevent money laundering as part of the options for reform and it remains to be seen how many of the options put forward will be adopted.
These are however interesting developments. The options appear to be an attempt to strike a balance between corporate and individual culpability and accountability and suggest a nod towards limiting over burdensome and costly self-regulation.
The Government will now consider the report and decide which of the options if any it wishes to adopt.
It will be fascinating to see where things go from here.
If you have any questions about how the potential changes might impact you or your business please contact Euros Jones or Alex Gorst.