Legal entities

Establishment of criminal liability 

The criminal liability of a legal entity is based on the imputability of the offence to that legal entity. A criminal offence committed by a legal entity is an unlawful act committed in its interest or within the framework of its activities, if one of the persons provided for by law (statutory body, employee, etc.) has acted in this way.

The range of such persons is quite wide and it is thus potentially very easy for a legal entity to commit a criminal offence. A single failure by one of its employees can have serious consequences for the legal entity. A typical consequence would be, for example, a ban on the performance of public contracts or participation in public tenders.

However, just as the law regulates the incurrence of criminal liability for legal entities, it also provides for ways to exempt oneself from such liability. 

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What crimes can a legal entity commit?

A legal entity cannot commit any crime listed in the Criminal Code. Some are "reserved" only for natural persons.

For the purposes of the Act on the Criminal Liability of Legal Entities, criminal offenses are crimes or misdemeanors listed in the Criminal Code, with the exception of the crimes of homicide (Section 141 of the Criminal Code), murder of a newborn child by the mother (Section 142 of the Criminal Code), participation in suicide (Section 144 of the Criminal Code of the Criminal Code), fight (Section 158 of the Criminal Code), intercourse between relatives (Section 188 of the Criminal Code), double marriage (Section 194 of the Criminal Code), abandonment of a child or a entrusted person (Section 195 of the Criminal Code), neglect of mandatory support (Section 196 of the Criminal Code ), mistreatment of a person living in a shared dwelling (Section 199 of the Criminal Code), violation of regulations on the rules of competition pursuant to Section 248, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code, treason (Section 309 of the Criminal Code), abuse of representation of the state and international organization (Section 315 of the Criminal Code), cooperation with the enemy (Section 319 of the Criminal Code), war treason (Section 320 of the Criminal Code), service in foreign armed forces (Section 321 of the Criminal Code), release of a prisoner (Section 338 of the Criminal Code), forcible crossing of the state border (Section 339 of the Criminal Code ), riots by prisoners (Section 344 of the Criminal Code), dangerous pursuit (Section 354 of the Criminal Code), drunkenness (Section 360 of the Criminal Code), against conscription listed in the special part of Chapter Eleven of the Criminal Code, military listed in the special part of Chapter Twelve of the Criminal Code and use of a prohibited means of combat and illegal fighting (Section 411 of the Criminal Code).

Who can commit a crime "for" a legal entity ?

These persons may be:

a) a statutory body or a member of a statutory body, or another person in a leading position within a legal entity who is authorized to act on behalf of or on behalf of a legal entity,

b) a person in a leadership position within a legal entity who performs management or control activities for this legal entity,

c) a person who exercises a decisive influence on the management of a legal entity, if his actions were at least one of the conditions for the occurrence of a consequence establishing the legal entity's criminal liability,

d) an employee or a person in a similar position when performing work tasks.

What if the specific perpetrator within the legal entity is not identified?

The criminal liability of a legal entity is not prevented if it is not possible to find out which of the above-mentioned natural persons acted. That is, for example, in a situation where it becomes clear that one of several employees of a legal entity committed the crime, but it will not be possible to prove which one specifically. In such circumstances, none of the natural persons will be criminally liable, but the legal entity will be.

Can both a legal entity and a natural person be criminally liable?

The criminal liability of a legal entity does not affect the criminal liability of the relevant natural persons and vice versa. If the criminal offense was committed by the joint action of several persons, at least one of whom is a legal entity, each of them is liable as if they had committed the criminal offense alone. As a rule, criminal prosecution is conducted simultaneously against the legal entity and its representatives.

Is it possible to be exempted from criminal liability?

A legal entity can be exempted from liability in particular if it has made all efforts that could fairly be required of it to prevent the commission of an illegal act by the relevant persons. That is, typically if it has adopted a set of preventive, detection and reactive measures. As a whole, these are usually referred to as a compliance program.

What are the penalties?

If a legal entity is found to have committed a crime, the court may impose one of the penalties listed in the law.

These penalties include the dissolution of a legal entity, forfeiture of property, monetary penalty, confiscation of property, prohibition of activity, prohibition of keeping and breeding animals, prohibition of public contracts or participation in public tenders, prohibition of receiving subsidies, and publication of the judgment.

In addition, the court can also impose protective measures, which include seizure of property or seizure of part of the property.

What, among other things, is taken into account when determining the punishment?

When determining the type of punishment and its amount, the court will take into account the nature and seriousness of the crime, the circumstances of the legal entity, including its previous activity and its financial circumstances; at the same time, it will also take into account whether the legal entity performs an activity in the public interest that is of strategic or difficult-to-replace importance for the national economy, defense or security. Furthermore, the court will consider the actions of the legal entity after the act, in particular its possible effective efforts to compensate for the damage or remove other harmful consequences of the act.

The law stipulates the obligation to take into account the effects and consequences that can be expected from the punishment for the future activity of the legal entity. When imposing criminal sanctions, the court also considers the consequences that their imposition may have on third parties. However, one cannot rely on the fact that, for example, by pointing out the threat to the activity (and thus also the employees) of a certain company, it will be possible to avert the imposition of a sanction for a committed crime.

Does criminal liability pass to legal successors?

The criminal liability of a legal entity passes to all its legal successors. In the case of multiple legal successors of a legal entity, when deciding on the type and amount of punishment or protective measure, the court will also take into account the extent to which the proceeds, benefits and other benefits from the committed criminal offense have passed to each of them, or also the extent to which any of them continues the activity in connection with which the criminal offense was committed.