CWR > Volume 5(1); 2019 > Current Development
Research Paper
Published online: March 1, 2019

Crimes Committed by Legal Persons: A Comparative Sino-German perspective

Jiahui Shi
Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law at the University of Cologne
Institut für ausländisches und internationales Strafrecht, Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Cologne, Germany
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In Germany, the notion of corporate criminal liability has attracted the attention of lawyers, scholars, and recently of politics. At present, legal persons are not criminally responsible but may only receive administrative fines under Section 30 of the Regulatory Offences Law. In light of recent scandals involving large business enterprises, efforts are under way to expand the liability of legal persons for misconduct, possibly leading to the introduction of criminal sanctions. In China, corporate criminal responsibility for certain offenses (unit crimes) were adopted in 1997 and has been practiced ever since. Here, both the unit and its responsible members are punished if a unit crime has occurred. In addition, administrative agencies may impose administrative sanctions and measures on the unit. Since the practical and legal problems appear similarly in the German and Chinese systems, a brief review of the Chinese experience may be helpful for the German reform process.

Keywords : Corporate Criminal Responsibility, Legal Person, Unit Crime, Administrative Sanctions, Criminal Punishment, Criminal Procedure

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