In May 2016, David Cameron announced the government’s intention to consult on a new corporate offence of failing to prevent economic crime “so that firms are properly held to account for criminal activity that takes place within them”. In September 2016, the new Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, stated “the intention of the government is not only to prosecute and to fine for breaches of the law, but to promote a culture of corporate responsibility”.
Whilst a draft of the proposed offence has not yet been released, it is thought that it will extend beyond bribery and tax evasion to include fraud, theft and false accounting. Similar to the current consultation on the “failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion” offence, it is expected to follow the path set out by the Bribery Act 2010, making corporations liable for the acts of those “associated” with them. The legislation will likely have extra-territorial effect and provide a defence of “adequate procedures”. Ultimately, this proposed offence is seeking to add to existing legislation to improve corporate culture from the top down to ensure responsibility is taken for the conduct of all those who work for or are associated with corporations.