The Government has asked the Law Commission to investigate the laws around corporate criminal liability and provide options to reform them.

Concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of current laws in criminalising corporate entities when they commit economic crime. Calls for reform have been revived following the mixed success of recent high-profile prosecutions. Without action to reform this area of law, there is a risk that the UK will fall behind international standards in the prosecution of economic crime.

The Law Commission has been asked by the Government to draft an Options Paper, in which the Commission will analyse how effective the law is and where it could be improved. The Commission will present various options for reforming the law so that corporate entities can be held appropriately to account.

This project will be run as a cross-team collaboration between two law Commission teams: The Criminal Law Team and the Commercial and Common Law Team. It will be led by Professor Penney Lewis, the Commissioner for Criminal Law, and Professor Sarah Green, the Commissioner for Commercial and Common Law.

 

Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner said:

“Public trust in the law and in business is damaged when firms cannot be prosecuted for criminal offences carried out in their name. We will analyse how the current regime of criminal liability is working and provide options for reform to ensure the law is fair and robust.”

Professor Sarah Green, Commercial and Common Law Commissioner said:

“Corporate crime causes harm to the public, and undermines the environment in which British companies operate. This review is an important step for protecting the UK’s internal competitiveness and reputation, and reassuring companies that the UK is a reliable place to do business.”

The Commission is aiming to publish the Options Paper in in late 2021 and will work with the Government on next steps, including the potential for a full Law Commission project on Corporate Criminal Liability.

 

Notes for editors

The review was requested by the Ministry of Justice, HM Treasury, Home Office, Attorney General’s Office, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Terms of Reference for the project can be viewed here.



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