The new regulation is brought by the Novelization of the Act No. 418/2011 Coll., on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities and their Prosecution (Act No. 183/2016 Coll.) that will become effective as of December 1, 2016.
The main changes are: new concept of the determination of criminal offences for which a legal entity may be criminally prosecuted and modification of the possibility of the exculpation of legal entities.
- New concept of the Criminal Liability of Legal Entities
According to the existing law, legal entities may be held liable only for criminal offences that are listed in the Act on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities (total of 73 criminal offences); the new law extends the list of criminal offences for which a legal entity may be held liable to nearly all of the criminal acts that are listed in the Criminal Code, except for criminal offences expressly excluded by the Act on Criminal Liability of Legal Entities (Section 7).
The exclusion will only relate to 21 criminal offences, mostly criminal acts that can‘t be committed by a legal entity due to their nature (i.e., murder, fight (brawl), drunkenness, evasion of alimony payments).
- Exculpation of Legal entities
Pursuant to the existing regulation, any legal entity may be exempted from its criminal liability for acts committed by its regular employees. The novelization extends this possibility for exculpation also to conduct of the legal’s entity statutory body (members of the statutory body), provided the legal entity made all reasonable efforts to prevent the commission of a criminal offence by such an individual.The question, when the above mentioned requirement is fulfilled, will be answered only by the ruling practice of courts. However, there is no doubt that legal entities should implement a system of internal measures and procedures (so-called Criminal Compliance program) in order to be able to release themselves from criminal liability and insist that such a compliance program is strictly respected in practice.
The new law significantly extends the list of criminal offences for which legal entities may be held criminally liable, while at the same time it also introduces certain new provisions that allow more possibilities to exempt legal entities from their criminal liability.