Corporate Criminal Responsibility as Team Member Responsibility

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 31 (4):755-781 (2011)
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This article puts forward a theory of corporate criminal responsibility as the shared responsibility of the members of a team for wrongdoing committed by one of their number in the pursuit of their common goals. The theory of team member responsibility advanced in this article differs from theories—such as those of Peter French and Phillip Pettit—under which corporate or group responsibility is viewed as the responsibility of the corporation or group as an autonomous moral person. Instead, this article defends a conception of a collectivity as a kind of relationship among individuals; under this conception, a collectivity is something more than the sum of its members, but not something having an autonomous existence apart from its members. To develop this idea, the article employs the concept of a team. Where individuals participate in a team, doing their part towards a collective goal, they are entitled to share in the credit for the positive achievements resulting from their combined actions, and they also share in the discredit for negative achievements of the group. This is so for each member, regardless of whether the member's individual contribution was a but-for cause of the group's achievement. Further, in the specific case of corporate teams, team member responsibility can help to explain why there should be liability of the corporate entity for crimes committed by members of the corporation (a group which typically includes its employees, officers, directors and, in some circumstances, its shareholders) in the pursuit of the corporation's goals



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