Monday, 7 November 2011

UK: England and Wales: manager's falsification of records not attributed to company

Judgment was given last Friday by the Court of Appeal in R v St Regis Paper Co. Ltd [2011] EWCA Crim 2527. A copy of the decision has not yet been published on BAILII. The case concerned the offence of intentionally making a false entry in a record required for environmental pollution control under Regulation 32(1)(g) of the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000. The company's records were intentionally falsified by its technical manager. At issue was whether the company could be liable under Regulation 32(1)(g). At a pre-trial hearing in the Crown Court, His Honour Judge Wassall held that the actions of the technical manager could be attributed to the company because the manager's mind could be identified as the controlling mind and will of the company. This ruling was not reconsidered by the Recorder and it was left open to the jury to consider whether the manger's action could be attributed to the company.

Lord Justice Moses, delivering the opinion of the court, held that liability could not be imposed on the company unless the intention to make a false entry was capable of being attributed to it in accordance with Tesco Supermarkets Ltd v Nattrass [1972] AC 153. He held that it could not in the circumstances. As such, HHJ Wassall was wrong to hold that the manager's intention to make a false entry could be attributed to the company and it was also wrong for the Recorder to leave it open to the jury to reach such a conclusion.

Update (8 November 2011): a summary of the decision has been provided by the ICLR: see here.

Update (9 November 2011): a copy of the decision is now available on BAILII: see here.

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