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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Complicity Cornucopia

Just in time for Thanksgiving, your horn of plenty of accomplice liability runneth over. Several very interesting pieces on the subject have popped up recently by seasoned and junior scholars. In this post I want to highlight the work of my friend Jim Stewart (UBC), who specializes in comparative criminal law and writes about corporate pillage in Africa (a conducive place to think about problems of accomplice liability).

Here is a succinct and very useful piece on complicity. I especially like Jim's methodological approach, one which seems to pair naturally with a comparative perspective. Rather than constructing a top-down account of the best understanding of complicity, Jim identifies several recurring problems or themes in the area and discusses various solutions that have been offered by different jurisdictions. It is an approach which, Jim says, "exposes blind spots in the various schools of thought about accomplice liability." One particular section I thought provocative was the discussion of the relationship of complicity and justification (pp. 10-11). Jim argues for using the affirmative defense of justifcation to obviate the need to decide between a purpose or knowledge mens rea requirement (he relies on a British case involving the sale of contraceptives by doctors to minors, who were then implicated in charges of statutory rape). The choice of evils defense is a familiar repository for the problems of moral nuance, but I'm not sure the law of complicity ought to be let off the hook this way. At any rate, read the piece, and also take a look at Jim's newest piece on corporate criminal responsibility (h/t Larry S.).

Also, here is Jim's extremely well-written and powerful editorial last week about corporate pillage in Africa--wrongdoing which, of course, presents the problem of corporate complicity in stark terms.

Posted by Marc DeGirolami on November 21, 2013 at 08:26 AM | Permalink

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