Wednesday 24 July 2019

UK: England and Wales: did the company receive a fair trial?

Judgment was handed down yesterday in Alstom Network UK Ltd, R. v (Rev 1) [2019] EWCA Crim 1318. The court was required to consider whether a company that had been found guilty of conspiracy had received a fair trial where the individual - the company's directing mind and will, in respect of whose actions the company's liability was based - had not been indicted as a co-conspirator and was not available to give evidence at the company's trial.

The court unanimously rejected the argument that the trial had been unfair, noting that although counsel for the company "was at pains to distance himself from any suggestion that a corporate conspirator could never be tried in the absence of a [directing mind and will], it is plain that, if well-founded, his principal submission would have wide and untoward ramifications .... it can only be in a very rare case that the absence of a [directing mind and will] would itself be determinative of the question whether a corporate defendant could receive a fair trial. " (paras. [53] and [58]).

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