Bureaucratic 'Criminal' Law: Too Much of a Bad Thing?
34 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 10, 2014
My main aim is to argue for the legitimacy of ‘regulatory’ criminal law. Historically more significant as a feature of statecraft than its critics have been prepared to admit, I defend a number of the controversial characteristics of such law. Such features include its tendency to come in the form of numerous discrete offences (where the common law was satisfied with one or two general offences), its preoccupation with less ‘serious’ forms of wrongdoing, and its reliance on omission-based liability. The plausibility of these claims comes through shifting the focus away from the favoured moral high ground of traditional critics of bureaucratic criminal law: the interests and concerns of the individual, as the object of criminalisation. A very large proportion of bureaucratic criminal law is aimed at companies, as objects of criminalisation. Whilst companies must be dealt with in a fair and proportionate manner by the criminal law, as entities they lack the capacity for emotional suffering, dignity and autonomy that would otherwise place greater constraints on the scope for the criminalisation of their activities. In developing my views, I try to maintain a healthy scepticism about the viability of identifying a set of laws that are uniquely and distinctively ‘criminal’.
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