Article Title

Cracking Down on Corporate Crime in Italy

Publication Title

Washington University Global Studies Law Review


With the implementation of Legislative Decree No. 231 on June 8th, 2001, Italy aligned itself with other European countries which already provided for the liability of corporate entities responsible for committing certain crimes. The previous gap in legislation had created serious implications at an international level, especially in light of the objective of fostering cooperation in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice in the European Union. These implications were amplified by the fact that corporate crime was increasing more rapidly than crimes committed by individuals, with manifestations that often transcended national borders. In this context, Art. 11 of Law No. 300, issued on September 29th, 2000, provided for an explicit delegation to the Government to regulate the administrative responsibility of corporate entities, with the intent to conform Italian legislation to the urgent pleas coming from the European Community.

The principle that criminal liability requires personhood undoubtedly gives rise to various considerations. Nevertheless, even this argument, which appears to exclude corporations from criminal liability, can be overcome. In fact, the effect of time passing between the commission of the crime and the delivery of the sentence undermines the objective of reformation even when the recipient of a sentence is an individual who, similarly, could be a completely different person many years after the fact. Paradoxically, even more so for corporations and for all the reasons that will be explained henceforth, the mere prospect of being convicted can push companies onto a virtuous path and be instrumental in bringing them back to the market with a renewed respect for legality.