Criminal Finances Bill: Briefing for House of Lords Committee stageMonday, March 27th, 2017
While we welcome the Government’s call for evidence on corporate liability for economic crime, we are concerned that the current bill is missing a major opportunity to make progress in improving the legislative framework for corporate criminal liability particularly in light of anticipated forthcoming restrictions on legislative space arising from Brexit.
The Government has acknowledged that the UK’s corporate liability regime is not fit for purpose in the 21st century, as many Peers recognised during Second Reading of the bill.
The current outdated identification doctrine needs to be replaced with a regime that reflects both the realities of modern corporations and public expectations of corporate accountability.
The Criminal Finances Bill introduces a welcome new corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion, but the corporate liability regime beyond bribery and tax evasion remains in crisis.
The extension of the ‘failure to prevent’ model to economic crimes such as money laundering and fraud is an essential next step. Broader corporate criminal law reform is also needed to ensure that irresponsible companies can be held liable for committing offences, not only omitting to prevent them.