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


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.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

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

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