Protectionism and procrastination
The era of inertia in corporate affairs
in Corporate and white-collar crime in Ireland
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Chapter 2 shows that the failure to develop a jurisprudence incorporating corporate wrongdoing into the architecture of the criminal law is not surprising. It was a consequence of Ireland’s history as a predominantly agrarian state and the resulting political and social inertia surrounding corporate affairs. Ireland remained a largely agrarian state for most of the 20th century. Initially it advanced protectionist policies to shield Irish industry from outside competition and as an assertion of sovereignty. Later, it opened up its economy, embracing free market capitalism to boost the prosperity of the State. However, earlier protectionist policies meant that there was little big business in Ireland so it had neither need nor experience of constructing a regulatory framework. Corporate activity was viewed positively and there was little political reflection on the desirability of corporate accountability and there was even less cultural recognition of the negative effects of corporate activity. The Irish State did not regularly or rigorously review company law and it avoided passing any original Irish company legislation. Corporate wrongdoing was addressed using conventional criminal law, without adoption or reflection, because it was easier than designing a specialised system of corporate enforcement.

Corporate and white-collar crime in Ireland

A new architecture of regulatory enforcement

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