Recent years have seen an increased political and public demand for corporate accountability in the UK, including for new ways to hold organisations criminally liable for wrongdoing committed on their behalf or which otherwise is judged to have been preventable. With traditional legal principles generally requiring proof of personal fault, excepting in limited 'regulatory' contexts, this has meant a radical reshaping of corporate criminal liability. This includes by:
- extending the 'regulatory' approach to economic crimes;
- seeking new ways to make organisations responsible for other social harms, including those connected to supply chains; and
- among law enforcement agencies, maintaining a focus on corporate offending often at the expense of those individuals alleged to have committed the wrongdoing.
The upshot includes the paradoxical effects of punishing organisations for wrongdoing which they cannot prevent; incentivising commercially-minded organisations to enter settlement agreements in relation to conduct which may not be criminal; hanging innocent individuals out to dry in the rush to agreeing corporate settlements; while simultaneously reducing the chance of successfully prosecuting individuals who may actually commit wrongdoing.
Against this background, we will be discussing recent developments in corporate investigations with a particular focus on:
- Failure to prevent offences and the anticipated introduction of a new failure to prevent fraud offence
- The latest on deferred prosecution agreements, including consideration of Tetris Bluu
- Supply chains and the proceeds of crime
- Funding and resourcing of law enforcement
- Other recent developments
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.