As of 1 December 2016 there are changes in the law in relation to the criminal liability of a legal entity. The changes narrow the scope of natural persons whose conduct can be attributed to a legal entity. This still includes its statutory body (or its members) and persons performing supervising and controlling activities at the legal entity. But beginning 1 December 2016, that person must be in a managing position within the legal entity rather than simply a regular employee.
What steps can a company take to prevent criminal liability arising?
From an HR point of view, the most substantial change is the new provision that enables legal entities to exempt themselves from criminal liability, if they have exerted all efforts that could reasonably and possibly be expected from them to avert the offence.
In practice, a company can avoid criminal liability by taking all efforts necessary to prevent such offences being committed in the first place. This could be done by appropriate adjustment to employment contracts or working rules as well as adoption of Ethical Conduct Codes, internal compliance programs and appropriate training of employees. Such internal rules and processes are generally referred to as “compliance programmes”, and many companies have already implemented them.
Once the amendment to the Act comes into effect, it is advisable that all legal entities ensure that such internal compliance programmes are in place as their importance will be increased. Furthermore, merely implementing such rules is insufficient; it will be important for companies to monitor compliance with such rules and actively enforce them. The successful discharge of a legal entity from criminal liability will not be possible without actual compliance with and enforcement of these preventive rules. It will be also necessary to prove that the persons concerned were made familiar with such internal compliance programmes.
Amendment to Act No. 481/2011 Coll., on criminal liability of a legal entity.
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