Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 71–89 | Cite as

Corporate Fault and Consumer Protection: A New Approach for the UK

  • Peter Cartwright
Article
  • 66 Downloads

Abstract

Many of the prosecutions for consumer protection offences which take place in the UK are against corporations, in particular, limited companies. As the criminal law had originally developed with human defendants in mind, many of its concepts were inappropriate where the defendant was a corporation. Corporations have, it is sometimes said, "no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked." As a result of industrialisation and the rise of the corporation in everyday life, legal principles had to be developed to deal with this new form of legal person. It began to be recognised that as well as having the ability to own property, enter contracts and the like, corporations were also capable of committing criminal offences.

The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which a corporation can be convicted of committing consumer protection offences under UK law. This is a topic which has received considerable attention in recent years, and is one which continues to undergo change. In particular, the article will consider the implications of a number of important recent decisions on corporate liability, and will consider their implications for those concerned with the enforcement of consumer law. It will be argued that the recent case law suggests that a new approach has emerged, but that the extent and implications of this approach, although potentially highly significant, are still not entirely clear.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Ashworth, A. (1995). Principles of criminal law (2nd ed). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Borrie, G. (1984). The development of consumer law and policy-bold spirits and timorous souls. London: Stevens and Sons.Google Scholar
  3. Card, R. (1995). Criminal law (13th ed). London: Butterworths.Google Scholar
  4. Cartwright, P. (1993). Corporate and vicarious liability and consumer protection. Consumer Law Journal, 1(4), 63–68.Google Scholar
  5. Cartwright, P. (1996a). Defendants in consumer protection statutes: A search for consistency. Modern Law Review, 59, 225–240.Google Scholar
  6. Cartwright, P. (1996b). Reckless statements, trade descriptions and law reform. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 47(2), 171–181.Google Scholar
  7. Clarkson, C. (1996). Kicking corporate bodies and damning their souls. Modern Law Review, 59, 557–572.Google Scholar
  8. Coffee, J. C. (1981). No soul to damn, No body to kick: An unscandalized inquiry into the problems of corporate punishment. Michigan Law Review, 79, 386–459.Google Scholar
  9. Cranston, R. (1979). Regulating business. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  10. Cranston, R. (1984). Consumers and the law (2nd ed). London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
  11. Pace, P. J. (1982). Delegation – A doctrine in search of a definition. Criminal Law Review, 627–641.Google Scholar
  12. Parry, D. L. (1995). Judicial approaches to due diligence. Criminal Law Review, 695–703.Google Scholar
  13. Paterson, A. (1982). The law lords. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Ramsay, I. (1989). Consumer protection: Text and materials. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Google Scholar
  15. Sealy, L. (1995). The corporate ego and agency untwined. Cambridge Law Journal, 54, 507–510.Google Scholar
  16. Smith, J. C. (1993). Casenote on Tesco v Brent. Criminal Law Review, 624–626.Google Scholar
  17. Smith, J. C., & Hogan, B. (1996). Criminal law (8th ed). London: Butterworths.Google Scholar
  18. Sullivan, G. R. (1996). The attribution of culpability to limited companies. Cambridge Law Journal, 55, 515–546.Google Scholar
  19. Wells, C. (1993). Corporations and criminal responsibility. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  20. Wells C. (1994). Corporate liability and consumer protection: Tesco v Nattrass revisited. Modern Law Review, 57, 817–823.Google Scholar
  21. Wells, C. (1995). A quiet revolution in corporate liability for crime. New Law Journal, 145, 1326–1327.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Cartwright
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Law, Aberystwyth SY23 3DYUniversity of Wales, AberystwythWalesUK.

Personalised recommendations