This is but a logical consequence of the very nature of corporations' artificial personality in connection with what possible penalty they could be made to suffer.
But the famous case of R. v. P & O Ferries (Dover) Ltd. 93 Cr App Rep 72 (or the famous Herald of Free Enterprise case) have challenged this idea and the courts' decision was to formally recognise that these corporations can be made criminally liable for manslaughter. This decision is taken to mean as holding the corporation itself directly criminally liable for manslaughter (as if the corporation have acted independently on its own to constitute mens rea and actus reus) aside from the individual liabilities of its directors or officers.
The US Supreme Court as well in 1909 (along the same line of thought on corporate criminal liability) held that corporations could be held liable criminally for acts or omissions including failure of an agent acting within the scope of his employment. From here, there were recent cases which have stated that a corporation will be held vicariously liable for the illegal acts of its employees if the employees act within the scope of their authority and intend to benefit the corporation. In both jurisdictions (UK and the United States), corporate criminal liability is without question recognised.
The Problem of the Second Element
of the Offence in Government's Proposed
Draft Bill Reform on Corporate Manslaughter
Corporate manslaughter is a homicide for a corporation. This means that a natural person is made to answer for criminal liabilities as if it were a natural person being held to answer for the consequences of a criminal act.
The researcher of this essay states that it is but proper to mention some basic concepts of corporate criminal liability as a preliminary before taking up the crucial issues involved in the Corporate Manslaughter: The Government’s Draft Bill for Reform. Corporate criminal liability is one of those hotly debated topics. One issue that attracts much attention is whether a corporation should be at "fault" before liability is imposed, and precisely what "corporate fault" means. In other words, what liability standard should be required before imposing liability on the corporation. For example, should liability be imposed when the corporation is negligent, when it acts "knowingly," whenever harm occurs regardless of the "fault" of the corporation, or some other liability standard? This essay addresses this issue and provides some deterrence-based insights into the choice of liability standards for corporate crime. The researcher mentiones that there were recent cases which have stated that a corporation will be held vicariously liable for the illegal acts of its employees if the employees act within the scope of their authority and intend to benefit the corporation. In both jurisdictions (UK and US), corporate criminal liability is without question recognised. The proposed Corporate Manslaughter Law aims to tackle the identification principle by providing a new basis - a test that focuses on management failure at senior level within the organization instead of focusing on the negligent act of an individual employee.