Corporate Criminal Responsibility
There is global discord on whether corporations should be held criminally liable. The jurisprudential and practical problems in imposing criminal liability on fictional entities ferment this disagreement. The arguments against imposing such liability focus on its incompatibility with the criminal justice system; the hardship such liability, especially under the broad vicarious liability standards employed, causes for businesses; and the unfairness of punishing innocent actors, such as shareholders and creditors, when corporate criminal liability is imposed. The arguments in favor of corporate criminal liability focus on the major role corporations play in today's world; the corrupting influence of corporate crime; and the ineffectiveness of alternatives such as prosecuting individuals involved or pursuing civil remedies. The existing standards for assessing corporate criminal liability are universally criticized as simplistic, unrealistic, and inconsistent with fundamental tenets of criminal law. These standards rely upon vicarious liability and hold a corporation liable by imputing the actions and intent of a corporate agent to the corporation.
Change is likely in the years ahead for there is growing support, worldwide, for imposing corporate criminal liability. It is likely, however, that the anthropomorphic standards currently employed to assess corporate criminal liability will evolve into more sophisticated standards that assess corporate culpability.
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