When can a Company be liable for criminal act

28th November 2011
When can a Company be liable for criminal act image

Can a Company be held liable for a criminal act?

The Court of Appeal recently decided a case on the correct approach for courts in considering whether a company can be held liable for the acts of one of its employees.

The case of R v St Regis Paper Company Ltd dealt with the issue as to the extent to which the company could be held criminally liable for the action of its employee who had intentionally made a false entry in a record required for environmental pollution control.

The employee who had the role of technical manager was convicted of deliberately falsifying records but the issue for the Court of Appeal was whether the company could also be held criminally liable.

The decision was that it was not enough for an employee to carry out management functions for the company for it to be said that the employee was part of the directing mind and will of the company. The directing mind and will would normally be the board of directors, the managing director and other superior officers of a company who carry the functions of management and spoke and acted as the company.

Therefore for a company to be found criminally liable of an offence which requires a mental element (as opposed to a strict liability offence) one of the controlling officers of the company must perform the alleged conduct with the necessary intent.

This does prevent companies being prosecuted for the actions of a rogue employee although as noted above some regulatory offences are strict liability and only require the act to take place without the need for the authorities to prove any intent.

Daven Naghen a Partner in our Criminal Law Team commented upon the case as follows:

“The Court of Appeal decision should provide some comfort to businesses that only a very specific and small list of people will be interpreted by the Criminal Courts as being the directing will and mind of the company. Had the Court of Appeal not overturned the decision made in the Trial Court, it would have been very difficult for businesses to identify which employees may act in a way which would expose the company to criminal prosecution. Employers must be aware however that they do remain in civil law vicariously liable for the actions of their employees and so this perhaps highlights the need for an appropriate management and supervision structure.”

Should you require an advice or assistance in respect of a regulatory or criminal allegation you should not hesitate to contact Daven Naghen or Anita Toal on 01775 722261 or by email at daven.naghen@maplessolicitors.com or anita.toal@maplessolicitors.com 

Should you have a more general enquiry regarding commercial or employment law please ring the office on the above number.


How Banks are Cashing in on Wills image

How Banks are Cashing in on Wills

Recent headlines have reported how banks are now cashing in on Wills.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, banks offered customers low cost Wills (or sometimes even free Wills) but the small print allowed the bank to charge extortionate rates to act as Executors. It is reported that banks are expecting billions of pounds of revenue from their Will writing services and administering estates and in some cases their fees have been over £12,000 to administer an estate as they look to charge a fixed fee PLUS a percentage of the deceased’s wealth.

If you or a loved one has made a Will through a bank we would urge you to check who you have appointed as Executors and check any small print which you may have signed. If you are unsure then please speak with one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate team who can look at your existing Will with you. It may be appropriate to make a new Will which revokes any previous Will you have made which could save your family thousands of pounds when your estate needs to be administered.

In the majority of cases, when someone has passed away we can provide the family with a quote of how much the legal fees will be so that there are no nasty surprises once the administration is complete.

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Over the last forty years I have cause to deal with many law firms both in a personal and professional capacity, including some ‘top’ London Companies. In all of those dealings I have never found anyone as proactive and so willing to offer help and advice as Jamie Dobbs. During the last two years Jamie guided my parents through the completion of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Helped myself with the use of the LPA and recently dealing with Probate and Estate Administration following their death.

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