Prof. Joanna Harrington contributes chapter to new cross-border crime collection

Contribution shines light on brokering deals for transnational corporate crime

Benjamin Lof - 18 September 2023

A chapter on "Negotiating Transnational Corporate Criminality" by Professor Joanna Harrington of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law is part of a new book on Transnational and Cross-Border Criminal Law: Canadian Perspectives, edited by Professor Robert J. Currie, KC, of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, and published by Irwin Law.

Combining insights from the fields of corporate, criminal and international law, Harrington’s timely contribution examines the coordinated use of alternative-to-prosecution agreements to address multi-jurisdictional cases of corporate criminality.

“In today's world of global economic interdependence,” says Harrington, “corporate activities easily cross national borders, as may the corporate commission of economic crime. A corporation, however, is not your usual criminal defendant—a corporation cannot go to jail.”

The punishment for corporations for criminal activity is a financial sanction – fines, penalties, reparations for victims, asset recovery, and the costs for the prosecution. By necessity most cases are resolved through negotiating a deal rather than a traditional criminal justice trial.

“The complexity of corporate crime,” adds Harrington, “and the difficulty for prosecutors in obtaining evidence of acts intended to be kept secret (such as fraud and bribery), further favours the use of negotiated settlements.”

These settlements include plea deals and deferred prosecution agreements, with the latter being new in Canadian law, and known as remediation agreements.

Research for the chapter was inspired by the 2020 Airbus deal, involving three national prosecuting authorities in the US, UK and France and the global aerospace company Airbus SE. It resulted in a then record-breaking $4 billion fine to settle charges of paying bribes to secure contracts in 20 countries.

Harrington’s work shines an important light on the coordinated cross-border use of negotiated deals by prosecuting authorities to address corporate criminality across multiple jurisdictions.

Transnational and Cross-Border Criminal Law: Canadian Perspectives is praised by the Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell, a past justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, as “a wide-ranging and insightful survey by some of the world’s leading experts on the important and rapidly developing subject of transnational criminal law.”

Harrington holds the Eldon Foote Chair in International Business and Law and also serves as the Associate Dean Research for the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.