CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, October 18, 2021

Freeburn & Ramsay on Individual Liability for Corporate Misconduct

Lloyd Freeburn and Ian Ramsay (University of Melbourne and Melbourne Law School - University of Melbourne) have posted The Recent Australian Debate About Individual Liability for the Criminal Misconduct of Corporations (Business Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 5, 2021, pp. 214-220) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
When should a director or manager of a company be personally liable because their company has committed a criminal offence? The question is both important and controversial because many of the laws that impose this type of liability (called deemed liability provisions) do so without the need to prove that the director or manager was personally at fault. The question has received much attention recently in Australia because of proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission to significantly expand the circumstances when this type of liability would be imposed on directors and managers. Following much criticism, the Commission withdrew its proposals and instead called for a wide-ranging review of the effectiveness of individual accountability mechanisms for corporate misconduct – in effect calling for another inquiry. This article outlines the Commission’s proposals and their objectives. It describes the criticisms that were made of the proposals and considers the proposals in the context of prior reviews and principles applying to deemed liability provisions. It is argued that the Commission was right to withdraw its proposals as they did not reflect a proper balancing of the advantages and disadvantages of deemed liability provisions, the proposals were not well drafted, and the formulation of the proposals did not appropriately consider earlier research and inquiries on deemed liability provisions.

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