It is but proper in this work 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.
The longstanding common law concept of corporate criminal liability is anything but straightforward.
Although corporations have long faced civil liability for the acts of their employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior2, the corporate criminal liability concept only came into existence in the early twentieth century.
Corporate criminal liability is one of those frequently and hotly debated topics. One issue that attracts much attention (other than the subject matter of this work) is whether a corporation should be at "fault" or "culpable" before liability is imposed, and precisely what "corporate fault" or "corporate culpability" 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" or "knowledge" of the corporation, or some other liability standard This paper addresses this issue and provides some deterrence-based insights into the choice of liability standards for corporate crime.
For one to be criminally liable, the elements of mens rea3 and actus reus must be present. Considering that corporations are purely incorporeal legal entities (meaning that they are artificial persons no matter what), these corporations cannot think or act except through the persons composing them (usually the board or directors where corporate powers are vested). ...