Directors and criminal liability
Directors and criminal liability

The following Corporate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Directors and criminal liability
  • Insider dealing
  • Misleading statements (financial services)
  • Misleading impressions (financial services)
  • Companies Act liabilities
  • Bribery
  • Health and safety
  • Gross negligence manslaughter
  • Environmental crime
  • Fraudulent trading
  • more

This Practice Note describes the criminal offences that are of most relevance to company directors, and:

  1. focuses on offences which an individual commits as a principal as distinct from:

    1. secondary liability eg for aiding and abetting, and

    2. inchoate liability eg as a conspirator

  2. is limited to a consideration of the law of England and Wales

The offences covered by this Practice Note are punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, as specified below.

Please note that a subscription to Lexis®PSL Corporate Crime will be required to view some of the Practice Notes referenced in this document.

While fines imposed by a magistrates' court (ie on summary conviction) for offences committed in England and Wales before 12 March 2012 are subject to a cap ( £5,000) there is no cap on fines imposed by a Crown Court (ie on indictment). Note that for offences committed in England and Wales on or after 12 March 2015, there is no upper limit to the fine which the magistrates' court can impose.

Statutes provide for maximum terms of imprisonment (eg ten years for fraud). This is not the case with common law crimes such as manslaughter and cheating the public revenue (where the maximum punishment is life in prison).

The actual sentence imposed depends in part upon applicable sentencing guidelines. See for example Practice Note: Sentencing fraud offences committed by