Die strafregtelike aanspreeklikheid van en straftoemeting aan regspersone
Du Toit, Pieter Gerhardus
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Modern juristic persons often are powerful entities and they play an influential role in society. Their activities are often accompanied by serious transgressions that have a severely detrimental impact on human beings and their environment. The effective prosecution of juristic persons is therefore necessary. The juridical foundations of the liability of juristic persons are, however, one of the most controversial issues in criminal law theory. Individualistic theories postulate that juristic persons are merely collections of individuals. The conduct and fault of individuals constituting a juristic person must therefore form the basis of the criminal liability of the juristic person. In the United States, for instance, the foundation for the criminal liability of corporations on federal level is vicarious liability. Another individualistic model (mostly associated with English common law jurisdictions) is the so–called doctrine of identification. Only the conduct of individuals who are regarded as the 'directing minds' of the organisation may be attributed to the organisation. These approaches deny the complex structures and decision making processes that exist especially in big corporate entities. According to realistic theories juristic persons are entities which are not dependant on their composite members. Each juristic person has its own unique personality. The culture and ethos of a juristic person influence the conduct of individuals attached to it as well as the degree in which the juristic person abides by the law. The identity of a corporation can be established by investigating the internal structure thereof. The existence of monitoring mechanisms and educational programmes within the organization, as well as the degree to which the organisation condones or disapproves of unlawful conduct, are some of the factors which may be indicative of the corporate culture. This approach is a development of the late twentieth century and has recently been adopted in the legislation of some foreign legal systems, most notably Australia. Section 332(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 provides the basis for the criminal liability of juristic persons in South Africa. In essence the conduct and fault of functionaries (and sometimes even outsiders) are attributed to the juristic person. In terms of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act juristic persons may only be fined upon conviction. This approach reflects the individualistic view of corporate criminal liability. In this study recommendations are made for the purpose of improving the South African law in this regard so as to reflect a more realistic approach. The recommendations are based on an examination of realistic models proposed by legal and social theorists and legislation adopted by foreign countries which are based on these theories. It is also recommended that more sentencing options must be made available to bring about the restructuring of corporations which have committed crimes.
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