The Corporate Fail is a resource for anybody interested in the law of corporate crime, and other corporate misconduct. It investigates how our laws guide, restrain and respond to corporate behaviour, focussing on what happens when corporations commit crimes. Created by a Melbourne lawyer, The Corporate Fail has an Australian bias, and is focused on legal issues, rather than broader philosophical questions.
Why Corporate Crime?
Corporate criminal law, and the civil law supporting it, is fascinating. By law, we have granted personhood, and great power, to corporations. Not many are multi-national giants with hundreds of billions of dollars in yearly revenue – most are small, and many are “no more than wafer thin transparent membranes” between the public and company directors.
But, regardless of size, most corporations enjoy the privilege of limited liability, granting them an extraordinary ability to externalise risk and minimise financial liability for their actions. Combine this with the fact that corporations have unique access to permissions and licences to conduct activities with potentially serious community impact (such as petroleum exploration permits, or permissions to run high-risk businesses), and the fact they can liquidate, even phoenix, or “reorder” (hello “new” GM), and the fact that, generally speaking, our laws are structured to force trading companies to maximise their profits,1 and you have the makings of a class of persons that is capable not only of great contributions to society, but also catastrophic harm.
So how does the law keep corporations in check? How is it designed to prevent harm, how does it respond to harm, and where does the law need to change? These are the questions The Corporate Fail investigates.
Corporate Crime; White Collar Crime
While corporate crime cannot be properly understood or studied without considering the criminality of individuals involved (‘white collar crime’), The Corporate Fail focusses on the law and litigation concerned with misconduct committed by, and attributed to, corporations. Over the course of my work and studies, I have found an abundance of excellent white collar crime resources, but fewer materials to assist with strictly ‘corporate’ crime issues. And this is vexing, because the corporate person presents unique challenges to the law and litigators. The Corporate Fail is my effort to address that gap in resources. I hope you will find something interesting and useful here.
Getting in touch
If you’ve read something here that you want to talk about, or you have a question you’d like to see answered on the site, or if you would like to write for The Corporate Fail, please send me an email. I love hearing from students, lawyers, policy-makers and other interested readers.
- In fact, ASIC, our primary corporate regulator in Australia, describes a ‘good public corporation’ as one that treats investors fairly, is accountable to investors and supports good investor outcomes. No mention of consumers, employees, the environment, or the local or global community there – see p37 of the linked document.