Presumption of innocence of corporate offense - Administrative liability

6.2.11. Presumption of innocence of corporate wrongdoing

The establishment of the above-mentioned force majeure factors testifies to the impossibility of legitimate corporate activity, in these circumstances, the qualification of an offense is impossible in view of the absence of subjective criteria for the guilty act. The verification of the facts of the presence or absence of legal circumstances necessary to establish the subjective criteria for guilt is carried out at the stage of its public proof, and it should be borne in mind the active role of the organization suspected of committing an offense. In fact, it is the organization that is obliged to prove its innocence, unlike it, the official of the jurisdictional body, on the initiative of which a corporate misdemeanor has been instituted, presents evidence of violations of norms and rules that qualify as an offense. For the stage of proving a corporate offense, the adversarial nature of the parties is characteristic: while the jurisdictional body confirms the objective criteria of the guilty act, the organization in any case gives arguments that testify to the legitimacy of its actions under the given conditions, i.e. confirms the absence of subjective criteria for guilt. In relation to corporate offenses, the principle of presumption of innocence is applied selectively, the subject of public proof is the presence of socially dangerous consequences, including in cases of causing property damage, moral, reputational harm to law-enforcing public or private interests. However, even with the confirmation of the objective criteria of guilt, the offense can not be imputed to liability in cases where the organization proves the absence of subjective criteria for guilt and will lead irrefutable arguments indicating that the organization has taken all measures depending on it to comply with the rules and regulations, and their violation was predetermined by the unlawful activities of others, or due to the presence of extraordinary and other circumstances that are insurmountable under the circumstances. The principle of presumability of public proof of guilt is not unconditional, its application depends on the essence of corporate wrongdoing

Thus, the qualification of an administrative and other public offense committed by a legal entity is always due to the presence of a misconduct, the elements of which are peculiar only to a corporate offense, namely:

a) subjects of corporate delinquency can only be private legal entities, and in rare cases also public organizations. Public bodies are not related to subjects of corporate delinquency;

b) the subjective side of a corporate offense provides for the establishment of formalized objective and subjective criteria for guilt, while the psychological criteria of guilt in the form of intent and negligence are applied only in the qualification of the individual's guilty act;

c) the object of corporate offense are lawful public and private interests, while the latter as an object of legal protection are always inferior in importance to the provision of national needs;

d) on the objective side, a corporate offense is characterized by an unlawful act embodied in an illegitimate legal act, or by an illegal omission formalized in the evasion of a legal entity from the performance of established administrative procedures in violation of the deadlines for their execution and in other cases.

The illegal act of an organization is always due to the failure by its administrative body of corporate rights and obligations or their improper performance.

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