Bureaucratic 'Criminal' Law: Too Much of a Bad Thing?

34 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2014

See all articles by Jeremy Horder

Jeremy Horder

London School of Economics - Law School

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’.

Suggested Citation

Horder, Jeremy, Bureaucratic 'Criminal' Law: Too Much of a Bad Thing? (February 10, 2014). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 1/2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2335976 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2335976

Jeremy Horder (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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