Error in personam: Confusion in Indonesia’s environmental corporate criminal liability

Andri Wibisana*, M.G. Faure, R. Majory

*Corresponding author for this work

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Since 1997, various provisions have been incorporated into Indonesia’s environmental law which relate to corporate criminal liability. Other laws relating to natural resource management have also had provisions on corporate criminal liability inserted into them. These laws are problematic because they often fail to distinguish between corporate criminal liability and corporate officers’ criminal liability, and as do the courts in their interpretation and application of them. Currently in Indonesia, an officer may be held liable for a crime committed by their corporation, even without being at fault or appearing as a defendant in the trial. Indonesia’s environmental law can therefore be said to be applying a rather extreme version of individual vicarious liability in environmental cases, in which a corporate officer is punished merely because of their position as a high-ranking officer of a corporation. This practice seems to be the result of an erroneous interpretation of corporate criminal liability. We argue that the Indonesian interpretation of environmental corporate criminal liability is not only ineffective but also harmful and inconsistent with theories of corporate criminal liability. We also argue that corporate criminal liability should be distinguished from the liability of corporate officers. While corporate criminal liability places criminal liability on the corporation as a legal entity, officers' criminal liability places the criminal liability on the corporate officers as individuals. A corporate officer should only be criminally liable if they can be blamed for an environmental crime committed by the corporation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-284
Number of pages38
JournalCriminal Law Forum
Issue number2
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021



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