On 9 June 2021 the Law Commission published a discussion paper on corporate criminal liability. This document launched the consultation phase of a project which will culminate in an Options Paper offering Government advice on “alternative options for an appropriate, principled, basis for attributing criminal liability for activities undertaken by and on behalf of non-natural persons.”

At the heart of this process is the question whether to reform or replace the classic keystone of corporate criminal liability in English law, the identification doctrine. To wit, under the identification doctrine, non-natural persons can be held criminally liable if a person who can be qualified as its “directing mind and will” commits an offence with the requisite mens rea whilst acting on its behalf.

Following a consultation phase which closed on 31 August, the Law Commission is now working on the Options Paper which it aims to present to Government by the end of the year. Members of Fountain Court’s Commercial Crime team here present a summary of arguments in favour of three broad options previously contributed as part of the Law Commission consultation process.

Click here to read the full piece, produced by Richard Lissack QC, Robin Barclay QC and Robin Lööf.

This piece was originally produced for our Quarterly Commercial Crime Newsletter. If you would like to sign up for this going forward, please contact