Uzbekistan: Draft law to introduce corporate liability

Amendments to the current criminal procedure legislation that would introduce the concept of corporate liability have been presented for public discussion. The amendments are a part of the overall Concept of Criminal and Criminal Procedure Legislation Improvement and aim to improve the efficiency of the existing criminal law of Uzbekistan.

Currently, criminal liability may only be imposed on individuals of sound mind that have reached the age of criminal responsibility.

Draft Concept considers the current absence of corporate liability concept as one of the shortcomings of Uzbek legislation. However, the situation is the same in most exUSSR countries, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, criminal law traditionally treats a crime as an unlawful act that is dangerous to the society (action or inaction/failure to act). In reality, only individuals can perform actions or fail to act. Indeed, for legal entities in any case, all actions are committed by specific individuals (whether senior managers or other authorised employees). 

Secondly, in any the criminal act - guilt must be present. This means that the act must be a result of intentional actions or negligence/failure to act. In fact, guilt is a person's inner mental attitude towards the deed they have committed. A legal entity is inanimate and does not have any mental activity of its own. Therefore, in any case, the evaluation of guilt is an analysis of the internal mental attitude to the committed act on the part of a person.

In most countries where criminal liability exists for legal entities, it is applied in parallel and together with the responsibility of individuals. For example, Art. 21 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Moldova stipulates that the criminal liability of a legal entity does not exclude the responsibility of a natural person for the committed crime. At the same time, the following types of punishment exist for legal entities:

  • fine;
  • deprivation of the right to engage in certain activities;
  • liquidation. 

They are used for various types of crimes related to business: for violation of intellectual property rights, environmental regulations, drug trafficking, economic crimes, etc.

If the concept of corporate liability is adopted, for Uzbekistan this will mean a revolution in the area of criminal law and administrative liability. The potential benefit of this concept for the business is that the full list of crimes subject to corporate liability is likely to be set out in one or two documents. For example, in the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offences Code.