The Government is consulting on whether to reform the law on corporate liability for economic crime.
The backdrop is the perception that it is too difficult under the current law for prosecutors to prove that directors and senior managers of large commercial organisations, or those companies themselves, have the necessary fault element or mens rea (“guilty mind”) to convict them of an offence. The Government considers that in recent times public trust in business has been dented by the disclosure of fraudulent, dishonest and harmful activity by banks, international organisations and manufacturers at home and abroad. It considers it is important:
- that firms are properly held to account for criminal activity that takes place within them, or that is committed by others on their behalf and at their behest; and
- to foster and promote economic crime prevention as part of corporate good governance.
The Government has issued an open call for evidence on the extent to which the current law is deficient as a tool for enforcement against large companies. Options under consideration include the introduction of strict liability (the imposition of liability without a finding of fault) for economic crime. The call for evidence closes on 24 March 2017.
The consultation is in the form of a 16-question questionnaire. Please let us know if you would like a copy of the questionnaire and background materials.