Corporate Criminal Liability: Assessing Legal Accountability

  • Abhishek Chatterjee and Laxmi Kumari
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  • Abhishek Chatterjee

    Student at Netaji Subhas Institute of Law, Jamshedpur, India

  • Laxmi Kumari

    Student at Netaji Subhas Institute of Law, Jamshedpur, India

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The notion that only humans can commit crimes is outdated. Initially, it was believed that corporations, as separate legal entities, couldn't commit crimes due to their lack of a soul or body. However, this perspective evolved, and the concept of corporate criminal liability emerged through legal precedents like the Standard Charter Bank v. Directorate of Enforcement case. It became apparent that a company, acting through its representatives, could indeed engage in criminal activities and be held accountable. This development stemmed from the Latin maxim "Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea," which implies that to establish liability, it must be proven that an act or omission was committed, forbidden by law, and done with a guilty mind. The doctrine of corporate criminal liability gained global significance following the influential judgment in the Standard Charter Bank Case. This article delves into the historical progression of corporate criminal liability and explores the diverse principles underpinning the accountability of directors, employees, officers, and other agents for the actions of a company. It extensively examines the contentious concept of special vicarious liability, which remains a topic of debate in contemporary times. The final section of this article focuses on Indian court jurisprudence concerning the imposition of penalties on corporations. It highlights landmark judgments that have significantly shaped the landscape of corporate criminality in India.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 1, Page 1127 - 1137


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


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