Criminal Liability of Corporations: The Differing Features of their Provisions in the Common Law and Civil Law Countries

Dr. Mohamed Saud Alenazi
Assistant Professor – Commercial Law & Head of the Department – Private Law – School of Law – University of Bahrain


The rule of criminal liability of the individuals has been there in the system of criminal justice since its inception, but the rule of criminal liability of corporations in criminal law however is a rule of recent origin. Further, the rule has not been adopted by all countries of the world at one and the same time, and in one and the same form. While some countries have adopted the rule and taken the step of incorporating it in their legal systems, there are many others who have yet to recognize the rule and incorporate it in their positive law. Even among those who have adopted the rule, a good number of the features of the law on corporate liability have been at variance with others. The variation is mostly because of the traits of the Common Law and Civil Law systems.
This article has the object of highlighting the basic features of a ‘corporate person’ and pointing out the variations in the law on the system of corporate criminal liability in the Common Law and Civil Law countries.
The methodology adopted by me for my views in this contribution is to present the discussion in four sections.
Section I of the article discusses the basic features of a corporate personality with reference to the philosophical of the leading jurists on this subject. It also throws light on the recent developments in the United States of America, Europe and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Section II of the article discusses first the basic features of a Common Law and the Civil Law principles with regard to the system of criminal justice and then highlights the differing features of law as they exist in the legal systems which follow, in the administration of justice, the principles of Common Law.
Section III of the article discusses the basic features of the Law on Corporate Criminal Liability in the Civil Law countries including Italy, Poland and Luxembourg.
Section IV of the article discusses the law on Corporate Crimes as it exists in certain GCC countries, and the Civil Law.
This article argues that there is no justification for the legal systems to adopt different approaches in the administration of justice; hence there is a need to bring about uniformity in the rules of corporate criminal liability.

Key Concepts:
Corporate Personality, Common Law & Civil Law, Corporate Crimes, Corporate Criminal Liability

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