Corporate Lawbreaking and Interactive Compliance: Resolving the Regulation-Deregulation Dichotomy

By Jay A. Sigler; Joseph E. Murphy | Go to book overview

from its corporate code would be proportionate to the effort invested in its compliance program.


CONCLUSION

Our legal system metes out civil and criminal punishment to corporations "to encourage diligent supervision of corporate personnel by managerial employees" ( American Law Institute 1985, sec. 2.07, comment 6). Corporate codes of conduct are an important means of establishing supervision. Courts have displayed, and should continue to display, an increased willingness to weigh effective compliance efforts when assessing corporate criminal liability. Few decisions, however, directly address the impact of corporate codes. Although the use of such codes is widespread, their legal effect thus remains an unanswered question. We have proposed a standard that would create an incentive for the development of effective compliance programs. Resolving the current uncertainty shrouding the effect of corporate codes would substantially foster effective self-regulation.


NOTES
1.
In 1984 and 1987, the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson surveyed publicly held companies with regard to their codes of conduct. In the 1984 survey 500 companies received questionnaires, and in the 1987 survey 414 companies. The full results of the two surveys may be obtained from the firm on request. It can be concluded from these surveys that codes are rarely invoked in legal proceedings, that most firms have no enforcement procedures to implement their codes, and that just over half of the surveyed firms distribute their codes to all employees.
2.
See also Center for Business Ethics ( 1986). This research concludes that institutional enforcement of ethics codes is very weak.
3.
Opinion Research Corporation ( 1980, 73). But The Conference Board in Corporate Ethics ( New York: The Conference Board, 1987), 16, reports a survey showing that 61 percent of the companies whose codes provided for termination had imposed that sanction in the previous five years.

-39-

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