BCL partner Richard Reichman discusses the current legal landscape of corporate crime and regulation.
My name is Richard Reichman and I’m a partner in the corporate crime and regulation team at BCL Solicitors. We advise companies, individuals, directors regarding all aspects of corporate crime and regulation, particularly in cases which are serious, complex or high-profile.
Corporate crime and regulation is a particularly interesting area to be involved in because there’s an increasing public interest in this area. I think there’s been a real attitudinal shift whereby people are particularly interested in harm caused by businesses, whether that’s to safety, to the environment, to the economy or to their individual rights. People are demanding that companies be responsible corporate citizens and do the right thing, and where they don’t, that companies and individuals are held to account. It’s also a really interesting area because of the evolving nature of regulation. So at a high level, we see regulation evolving with the societal, political and technological changes, and that results in more regulation and higher penalties. We’ve seen the creation of new offences and novel ways to attribute responsibility to corporates. For example, corporate manslaughter, failure to prevent offences such as failing to prevent bribery and deferred prosecution agreements.
We’ve also seen new regulators and task forces being set up. For example, a new building safety regulator following Grenfell, a new joint waste crime unit and a new online harms regulator, and the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit in response to food frauds. I think in the future we’re going to continue to see strong regulation and higher penalties. Bearing in mind this real shift with society being more engaged in these sorts of issues and with regulation evolving, there’s likely to be more new offences and novel ways to attribute responsibility to corporates. There may well be more cases where we see an overlap between fraud and regulation. And finally, I think businesses will in the future bear the costs of regulation more frequently. We see that with some regulators at the moment and I think it’s likely that will be expanded.
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