Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Directors'
Liability) Bill 2012 – Onus on prosecutors of corporate
offences to prove criminal responsibility of directors and
On 20 November 2012, the New South Wales Legislative Council
passed the Miscellaneous Acts Amendment (Directors'
Liability) Bill 2012 (Bill). When it becomes law, the Bill
will introduce a nationally consistent reform of legislation
regulating the criminal responsibility of directors and officers
for corporate offences.
The Bill amends various Acts so that directors and officers are
no longer automatically liable for offences committed by a
corporation unless they acted as an accessory, eg by aiding and
abetting, in that particular offence. This is recognition of the
fact that legislative provisions have imposed criminal liability on
directors and officers for corporate offences for years which have
been applied inconsistently and without clear justification.
This is a significant change from the current regimes and is in
line with normal principles of accessorial liability. Currently,
personal criminal liability for corporate offences in most cases is
imposed on directors and officers, requiring them to then argue
The proposed amendments remove this reverse onus of proof,
except particular environmental and safety offences where reverse
onus provisions are justified for public policy reasons.
Prosecutors will now have the responsibility under the amendments
of proving such criminal responsibility.
The Bill will amend a wide range of legislation including:
Animal Research Act 1985
Building and Construction Industry Long Service Leave
Payments Act 1986
Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act
Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games)
Enforcement Act 1995
Contaminated Land Management Act 1997
Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003
Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985
Drug Misuse and Trafficking Regulation 2011
Duties Act 1997
Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004
Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act 1985
Explosives Act 2003
Food Act 2003
Forestry Act 1916
Health Insurance Levies Act 1982
Heritage Act 1977
Jury Act 1977
Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1948
Liquor Act 2007
Loan Fund Companies Act 1976
Long Service Leave Act 1955
Long Service Leave (Metalliferous Mining Industry) Act
Mining Act 1992
Motor Dealers Act 1974
Motor Vehicle Repairs Act 1980
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
Native Vegetation Act 2003
Payroll Tax Act 2007
Pesticides Act 1999
Printing and Newspapers Act 1973
Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002
Protection of The Environment Operations Act 1997
Racing Administration Act 1998
Rural Workers Accommodation Act 1969
Security Industry Act 1997
Sydney Water Catchment Management Act 1998
Sydney Water Catchment Management Regulation 2008
Taxation Administration Act 1996
Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
Unlawful Gambling Act 1998
Valuers Act 2003
Veterinary Practice Act 2003
Water Industry Competition Act 2006
Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act
The reforms will also reduce the number of offences to which
special directors' liability provisions apply from over 1000 to
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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