The Evolution of Corporate Criminal Law

in Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780226470405
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226470429 | DOI:
The Evolution of Corporate Criminal Law

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This chapter focuses on the evolution of corporate criminal law in America. The historical phases of the substantive corporate criminal law discussed in the chapter share the tension accompanying the social control of business enterprises, whether this tension appears as concerns with the metaphysics of personhood (phase one), the rise and obscure fall of vicarious liability (phase two), the routine risk-shifting between agents and principals (phase three), the successful and failed attempts at model state and federal codes (phase four), the reactions to a “new” regulatory state (phase five), the gaming of regulators by the “good citizen” corporation (phase six), or the reactive prosecution and regulation following a period of scandals marked by widespread accounting fraud and governance and compliance failures (phase seven). These seven phases overlap significantly and are far from discrete. They do, however, provide one account of some of the more important trends and milestones of the corporate criminal law. Notably, all phases reflect the powerful influence of the public and segments of the business community in lobbying for or inhibiting legislative reform. These influences remain once legislation is passed, and they often dictate the extent to which laws are largely ignored or rigorously enforced.

Keywords: corporate criminal law; social control; business enterprise; personhood; risk-shifting; legislative reform; compliance failure

Chapter.  17590 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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