The UK Government’s Startling About-Turn on Corporate Liability

The UK Government’s Startling About-Turn on Corporate Liability

The UK’s Independent reports today on recent news that the UK government has reneged on its plans to introduce more effective corporate liability laws that would allow for the effective prosecution of UK corporates for economic crimes such as corruption and money laundering. Answering a question in Parliament, the Justice Minister, Andrew Selous, stated that there was no imminent plan to introduce tougher laws as ‘there was little evidence of corporate crime going unpunished.’

Corruption Watch UK’s Sue Hawley, interviewed by the Independent, commented that “this decision is shockingly short-sighted. The Government has missed a major opportunity to get its house in order on holding corporations to account.

“Companies in the UK are rarely brought to justice and are often effectively above the law because of the UK’s outdated corporate liability laws. It appears that the government is allowing its pro-business deregulation agenda to derails its anti-corruption commitments.”

A new report by Corruption Watch UK, published earlier this week, shows that, in the absence of serious reform, UK anti-corruption laws are seriously flawed. The current legal regime makes it incredibly difficult to bring effective charges against large companies; indeed, the larger the company is, the less likely that it can be charged under the existing regulatory regime.

The news of the government’s U-turn is particularly disappointing given David Cameron’s recent anti-corruption message delivered during a recent trade trip to South East Asia.