n Journal of South African Law / Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Corporate "assault" : bullying and the aegis of criminal law (part 1)

Volume 2014, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0257-7747


The first part of this article examines bullying under the of criminal law. The second part will explore the possibility of corporations being held criminally liable for acts of bullying. The article will conclude with findings on whether a crime of 'corporate assault' is possible. The first part of the article is divided into five sections. The first section will examine the context of bullying and will conceptualise the term. As bullying is not defined, current domestic and foreign civil remedies will be investigated to establish if - and to what extent - bullying may possibly be considered a form of "harassment" in order to establish a link between bullying and harassment. Bullying, as a concept, in the context of the crimes of and assault, will be highlighted. This necessitates an investigation as to whether instances of bullying which are not physical acts of violence, but psychological attacks, may be included under a broader interpretation of the crime of assault. The crime of assault will be examined as both a positive act and as an omission. Assault in the comparative context of the United States and United Kingdom will also be explored.

The second part of the article will explore general corporate criminal liability and investigate the notion of "corporate assault" with a specific focus on bullying as a form of emotional harm. This article does not seek to challenge the controversial different models of corporate criminal liability, which has been canvassed at length by many academic scholars, but will, instead, seek to explore the best model to support a notion of "corporate assault". The legal duty to protect and omissions to do so will be examined. A comparative perspective will be provided of the provisions in the context of corporate criminal liability in the United States and the United Kingdom. Constitutional issues will be addressed, and it will also be considered whether a corporate body can be criminally liable for the act of assault and recommendations will be made. This article will conclude with an identification of the shortcomings under civil law and an argument will be provided as to why criminal liability for bullying or a crime of "corporate assault" is necessary.

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