Article 31


flag Spain

Corporate criminal liability Corporate incentives Criminal liability Economic sanctions Human trafficking

Article 31 introduces the principle of criminal liability of corporate bodies.


Before the introduction of this provision through an amendment to the criminal code in 2010, corporate bodies could not be held criminally liable in Spain. Under this amended provision companies are now criminally responsible, for the first time in Spanish legal history, for the commission of a number of specific offences, including human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, illegal trade, fraud, and offences against foreigners.

The Code, however, exempts individual companies from criminal liability provided that they can prove that they have taken preventative action by implementing an effective compliance programme.

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Law / 23rd November 1995 / Spain / Spanish Criminal Code

The Spanish Criminal Code provides the criminal law framework in Spain, regulating the different crimes and offences, as well as the associated penalties. The Code criminalises human trafficking, as well as a number of serious offences against the rights of workers, including deceptive recruitment, imposing harmful working conditions on workers, or serious health and safety breaches endangering the health and lives of workers.

Since coming into force, the Criminal Code has been amended on several occassions. The Crime of human trafficking was only included in the Code, and therefore introduced to the Spanish criminal legislation in 2010, with Organic Law No. 4/2000. One of the last amendments, introduced by Organic Law No. 5/2010 of June 22, introduced the principle of criminal liability of legal entities. Previously, it was not possible to hold enterprises and other organisations criminally liable under Spanish legislation.