When Does a Company Need a Defence Solicitor?

Updated on Friday 15th July 2016

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A corporation may be held criminally liable for its actions in certain circumstances, when these deeds involve white collar crimes. The term was first used by the famous sociologist E. Sutherland in 1949, who defined them as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of (their) occupation”. The white collar crime generally refers to a non-violent crime effectuated for monetary advantages. Our criminal lawyers in London can offer the accurate guidance and legal assistance for all types of white collar crimes in the U.K. 

Some of the most common white collar criminal offences in UK

Some of the most common white collar crime offences involve:

•    accounting misstatements;
•    bribery and corruption;
•    cybercrimes;
•    data protection;
•    financial markets offences;
•    fraud;
•    money laundering;
•    cartels;
•    tax offences.

Financial markets offences in UK

Financial markets offences are regulated in the UK by the Financial Services and Markets Act whose main purpose is to decrease the number the financial crimes involving dishonesty, fraud, misuse of information, any sort of financial markets manipulation, misconduct and so on. One of the main offences, according to the above mentioned Act, is represented by financial markets activities undertaken without authorization, as well as issuing misleading statements or market abuse. 

The penalties for such crimes committed by companies can range from fines to withdrawal of authorization and suspension from effectuating specific regulated activities for a certain amount of time. 

Corporate liability in UK    

There are two categories of corporate criminal liability at common law. These are:

1.    Vicarious liability: For certain types of offences, companies can be found criminally liable for the illegal actions of their employees and agents under the vicarious liability principle. It commonly applies to severe liability offences and has the tendency to characterize areas of the criminal legislation, such as health and safety, food and drug safety and environmental law.

2.    The identification principle (the “directing mind” liability): For serious offences which do not enforce severe liability, a company is commonly criminally liable only when the offence can be attributed to a person who at the time of the commitment of the crime was the decision maker or a representative figure of the company. Generally these are senior representatives of the corporation, who are part of or close to board level and whose deeds can be imputed to the company.

Some specific criminal offences, such as insider trading and cartel offences, cannot be imputed to corporations, being only applicable to individual persons.

Please contact our criminal solicitors in London if you need to know more details.


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