LexInter | August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments


The business manager is responsible for acts or omissions that he has personally performed, in violation of the laws or regulations in force. 

More broadly, the criminal liability of the business manager can be engaged for any offense committed in the business. Case law has in fact established the principle of liability for breaches of the regulations. ” Criminal responsibility weighs on the business manager to whom it is the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the legislation ” (Cass. Crim. 7 Dec. 1981, Bull. Crim. N ° 525)

This is particularly the case for breaches of the Labor Code (see Crim. Cass. 23 January 1975, D 1976 J 375, n. J Savatier, JCP 1976.II. 1833 n. JH Robert, Cass. Crim. 28 Oct 1986 Bull crim. n ° 311 in matters of industrial accident; Cass. crim. 12 May 1998, Bull. crim. n ° 160, also retaining the manager’s personal decision to set up the system). 

This rule also applies to recklessness offenses which can be considered cumulatively with occupational health and safety offenses (Cass. Crim. 4 Dec. 1979, D. 1980 IR p. 312).   

It is also applicable for tax fraud (Cass. Crim. August 19, 1997, Rev. soc. 1997, p. 863 obs Bouloc).

It also extends to matters of deception on the substantial qualities of a sold merchandise (Crim. 21 Nov. 1963, Bull. Crim. N ° 330, Rev. sc. Crim. 1964, n. Bouzat; Cass. Crim. . 27 July 1964, JCP 1965 II 14207 n. Live).

The principle of responsibility for the sole personal fact enshrined in article L 121 1 of the Penal Code is not considered by case law to contradict this responsibility of the decision-maker, because of the powers conferred on him by company law. . The Court of Cassation affirmed in a judgment of April 19, 1997 (Droit Pénal, 1997p. 15) that ” the presumption of responsibility of the company director established by articles 52 and 244 of the law of July 24, 1966, in that it is not intended to reverse the burden of proof, is not contrary to the presumption of innocence. ” 

The Court of Cassation affirmed that ” criminal liability may arise from the act of others, in exceptional cases where certain legal obligations impose the duty to exercise direct action on the facts of a subordinate ” (Cass. Crim. 28 Feb. 1956, JCP 1956.II. 92304 n. De Lestang). The decision regarding the operations of the company is also affirmed as having been taken by the head of the company, even in the event of delegation of powers because it remains imputed to the decision-maker even if he does not have the author of the decision. execution of these operations (cf. Crim. 19 October 1995, Bull. crim. n ° 317, Rev. soc. 1996, p. 323, n. Bouloc, Bull. Joly Bourse 1996, n. Decoopman in matters of insider trading )

However, case law admits that the manager can discharge this criminal responsibility by delegating powers . 

In addition, various texts make the principal responsible for the payment of the fines pronounced by the agent or employee.


Antona, Colin and Lenglart, The criminal liability of executives and managers in the business world, D. 1996

M. Delmas Marty, Criminal law, the individual and the company: guilt “by the act of others” or of the decision maker JCP, 1985, I, 3218,

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