Corporate Criminal Responsibility
6 February 2020
On 31 January 2020, the Law Council provided a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission in response to the Discussion Paper it released in November 2019 following its review of the existing regime relating to “Corporate Criminal Responsibility”.
A key concern for the Law Council was the proposed model for reforming the attribution of criminal responsibility to both bodies corporate and individual officers within corporations.
The Law Council argued the proposal, in effectively deeming criminal liability in a wide range of circumstances and then revering the onus of proof onto the body corporate to establish a defence that it acted with due diligence, was contrary to fundamental principles of the criminal law. The Law Council submitted the proposal creates a significant disparity between the application of the principles of criminal responsibility for natural persons and the application of those principles to corporations and was a significant, unjustified departure from the approach adopted in the existing Part 2.5 of the Criminal Code relating to corporate criminal responsibility.
The Law Council welcomed other proposed reforms in the Discussion Paper including expanding the range of sentencing options available to courts dealing with corporate offenders, and the availability of deferred prosecution agreements in appropriate circumstances. The Australian Law Reform Commission will deliver its Final Report on the 30 April 2020.