Corporate criminal liability from a comparative perspective

  • Masayuki Sugawara

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    The issue of corporate criminal liability has been the subject of discussion for some time in common law and civil law countries. The reason for the interest in this issue must be understood. From the perspective of criminal law, an intangible corporation can neither perform any criminal acts nor entertain a guilty or malicious mind in the same way as the natural persons do. However, the realities are such that many transactions are currently conducted by the corporate unit: if illegal activities are conducted by groups, associations or corporations, the necessity arises to consider whether the group or corporation itself should be held responsible for the illegal activity. If the illegal activity of the corporation is considered to constitute a criminal offence, it may in due course be appropriate to demand that the corporation itself should be held criminally liable for the offence although it cannot act or entertain guilt.

    The approaches to this objective differ in both major legal systems. A vivid contrast exists between common law and civil law approaches to the issue of corporate liability. Whilst the common law approach comprehensively acknowledges the idea of corporate criminal liability in the area of criminal law, most of the civil law countries do not. This thesis will examine the status of corporate criminal liability in both major legal systems, and consider the reasons why the two legal systems have taken different approaches to the issue.
    Date of AwardNov 1995
    Original languageEnglish

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