Corporate entities enjoy legal subjectivity in a variety of forms, but they are not human beings. Hence, their legal capacity to bear rights and obligations of their own is not universal. This article lays out a stylized model that explores, from a normative point of view, one of the limits that ought to be set on corporate capacity to act “as if” they had a human nature − the capacity to commit crime. Accepted wisdom states that corporate criminal liability is justified as a measure to deter criminal behavior. Our analysis supports this intuition in one subset of cases, but also reveals that deterrence might in fact be undermined in another subset of cases, especially in an environment saturated with plea bargains involving serious violations of the law.
Thanks are due to Ronen Avraham, Sharon Hannes, Alon Harel, Omer Kimhi, Ariel Porat, and the editorial board of this journal for helpful comments on former drafts. Yonatan Horan and Ori Marom provided excellent research assistance.
© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston