Albania introduced criminal liability for legal entities through the adoption of the Law on the Criminal Liability of Legal Entities (9754/2007). Under the law, legal entities can be held criminally responsible for the conduct of individuals who act on their behalf and to their benefit.
The law applies to both national and foreign legal persons (eg, joint stock and limited liability companies, non-profit organizations) and, with a few exceptions, to local governmental bodies, public legal entities, political parties and labour unions.
A legal entity can be held responsible for a criminal offence committed in its name or for its benefit:
- by its managing body or representatives;
- by a person who is under the authority of the person who runs, represents and administers the legal entity; or
- due to a lack of control or surveillance by the person that runs, represents and administers the legal entity.
According to the law, any individual who, under Albanian legislation and the bylaws of the legal entity, represents, runs, administers or controls the activity and the managing bodies of such entity is considered to be a managing body or a representative of the legal entity.
Two types of penalty are imposed on legal entities: principal penalties and supplementary penalties, which are applicable to the offender in addition to the principal penalties. The principal penalties consist of pecuniary fines or compulsory dissolution of the legal entity, while the supplementary penalties may lead to, for example:
- the cessation of one or more of the offending company's activities;
- its temporary receivership;
- a prohibition on participating in public procurement procedures; and/or
publication of the court decision.
The pecuniary fines range from Lek300,000 to Lek50 million, but are not applicable to local government bodies, political parties, unions or public legal persons.
The court can order the compulsory dissolution of the offender where:
- the legal entity was founded for the purpose of committing the criminal offence;
- the legal entity has devoted a significant proportion of its activities to commit the criminal offence;
- the criminal offence has severe consequences; or
- the legal entity is a recidivist.
Although the law has been in force for nearly three years, it is hard to apply and so far little progress has been made in punishing criminal offences committed by legal entities. This should probably be ascribed to that part of the Albanian judiciary system which remains loyal to the maxim "societas delinquere non potest" ("companies cannot be criminals") and a certain lack of expertise in this particular branch of criminal law.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.