Bishop & Sewell

The Government has asked the Law Commission to investigate the laws around corporate criminal liability and provide options to reform them, writes Michael Kashis Managing Partner and Head of our Corporate & Commercial team.

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.

Underlining the importance of the UK’s reputation as an upholder of the rule of law the review was requested by the Ministry of Justice, the Treasury, the Home Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

So it’s fair to say it has the government’s full attention.

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.

Professor Sarah Green, Commercial and Common Law Commissioner says: “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.”

Working with the Commercial and Common Law Commissioner is the Criminal Law Commissioner, too.

Professor Penney Lewis, Criminal Law Commissioner adds: “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.”

I and my colleagues in the Corporate and Commercial look forward with interest to see what opportunities there will be to put forward recommendations in due course.

Find out more about the project here.

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

If you need advice or help regarding Corporate & Commercial matters, please contact Michael Kashis or another member of our expert Corporate & Commercial Team on 020 7631 4141 or you can email

The above is accurate as at 05 January 2021. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.

Category: News | Date: 5th Jan 2021

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