Companies Liabilities for Employees’ Criminal Actions in Spain

criminal law spain

Following fundamental reforms carried out in 2010 and 2015, the Spanish Penal Code now attaches criminal liability to companies and other ‘legal persons’ for certain crimes committed either by it’s representatives or it’s employees.

By this it is meant that, in such cases the company can be investigated , subject to precautionary measures (such as temporary closure , payment of a bail bond, etc.), tried and , if appropriate, found guilty, in addition to physical individuals in the company being found responsible . The judgment may order the total dissolution of the company or impose heavy fines , suspension of activities, judicial intervention … In any case, the most severe penalty is the damage to the reputation of the business.

Different Crimes Covered

The crimes covered by the new Criminal Code are varied. A computer crime may be committed if a manager or employee obtains secrets or proprietary information relating to an individual when there are of a personal nature .

Or perhaps liability for  a corruption offence might be attributed to a company if an officer, employee or partner of the company requests or accepts payment of any kind for unduly favouring another in the course of doing business.

Should an employee or officer try to bribe a public official, the new Penal Code may attach liability to the company. Additionally a crime against the Public Treasury may be committed by a company if an attempt is made to evade payment or withholding of taxes or improperly obtains tax rebates in an amount exceeding €120,000.

The required amount is reduced to 4,000 € if the company defrauds the Tax Office specifically or if the funds were obtained from the European Union. The new Penal Code details a further thirty crimes whereupon liability may be affixed to a corporate body.

Criminal Compliance Model

Under the law, not only representatives and directors of the corporation may implicate the company by their behaviour but also their employees and even mere collaborators, if managers have not adequately controlled their activity.

However, as occurs in the UK or in the USA, legal entities may be exempted from criminal liability , even though someone connected to them commits a crime – as long as they can prove that they have been careful. For this to be demonstrated, they must have implemented a model of organization and control over the activity of the company to prevent the commission of offences. This is known as ‘Criminal Compliance’.

This model of organisation and control or system of ‘Criminal Compliance’ must be adapted to the structure , volume, activity and characteristics of the company ( e.g. is it a subsidiary of a multinational conglomerate or a family business etc… ), and implemented in all critical areas of business risk, such as data protection, CCTV surveillance, foreign trade, money laundering, document management, decision-making, disciplinary system , complaints’ processes, etc

In addition to potentially exempting a company from criminal liability, the implementation of  Criminal Compliance allows for a better understanding of the rules to which the company is subject as well as an improved level of risk management and of decision making processes and controls.

It also prevents the risk of administrative penalties and an improvement in competitiveness: large companies already operating with these models already require or will require their implementation by third parties with whom they do business. Also it improves the qualification and positioning of the company to contract with the Spanish government.

The implementation of a system of Penal Compliance should not only be welcomed by those law firms (such as our own) who are able to offer such a service, but should also be welcomed by those companies who wish to improve the legal certainty with which they develop their businesses.

41 Lawyers Offering Services in Spain

Testimonials for Commercial Law
  • John Grant
    John Grant, Lanzarote

    Erardo was patient, attentive, and tireless. He's is clever, diligent and his English is excellent.


    He is affable and frank: two qualities that are essential in a good lawyer. I very much appreciate his help and advice during the case.


    I don't hesitate to vouch for his professionalism.


    Oct 02, 2020
  • Mark Underhill
    Mark Underhill, Mazarron

    We had a legal problem in Spain and the allocated solicitor, Consuelo, helped us solve the issue. Right from the beginning she was extremely professional and understanding of our needs. It was obvious that she knew exactly what was required.


    We felt completely at ease and presented very knowledgeable in respect of legal procedures. I would highly recommend the Advocate Abroad service to anyone in a tight spot in need of legal help.


    In terms of what could have been improved, maybe time from initial phone call requesting service to client contact could be a bit quicker, but that's the only thing.


    Sep 29, 2020
  • Vicky Bailey
    Vicky Bailey, Marbella

    Speedy response. Very approachable.


    Jun 14, 2020
  • Elin Dahms Konig
    Elin Dahms Konig, Seville

    I recommend Rafa who helped me through a tough situation where I was wrongly accused in a case of fraud. His advice, support and professionalism were outstanding!


    Feb 28, 2020
  • Robert Melvin
    Robert Melvin, Seville

    I was extremely happy with Rafael during my case. He always responded promptly to any questions I had. I found both his spoken and written English to be excellent, even with complex legal matters.


    He explained any query I had very well and if there was anything I was unsure of he explained thoroughly. I was extremely impressed with the level of professionalism throughout the process together. I would highly recommend Rafael to anyone needing a lawyer in Spain. It was a pleasure to work with him.


    Dec 08, 2019
  • Renee Friel
    Renee Friel, Madrid

    Responded to my request immediately and always there with advice.


    Sep 27, 2019
  • Stefan Olivier
    Stefan Olivier, Ibiza

    Rosa was incredibly helpful and also patient with me. I would recommend her to anyone as she is incredibly professional and knows how to advise a distressed client brilliantly.


    Sep 07, 2019
  • Jason McNabb
    Jason McNabb, Fuengirola

    Very professional and a first class service at very short notice.


    Everything was under control in a short space of time. Alvaro was a man of his word. Anything he said he would do he done it. Me and my family appreciate everything you done for my brother thank you so much.


    Jul 16, 2019
  • Clare Parlour
    Clare Parlour, Mallorca

    Initially I had a lot of communication but as time went on it was difficult to get prompt responses and I felt frustrated by the Spanish system and lack of understanding.


    It has now been transferred to the UK but this was done through the court and not the solicitor. it took 3 months for our file to turn up in the UK and I think that was more by luck.


    More regular communication especially as we didn't know the Spanish legal system.


    Jul 09, 2019
  • Breda McMahon
    Breda McMahon, Gran Canaria

    Esther provided a very professional and efficient service.


    I would certainly recommend her!


    Jun 25, 2019
  • Andy and Diane Heston
    Andy and Diane Heston, Fuengirola

    We have recently had to employ the services of a lawyer, to deal with a very serious and distressing problem. We found Alvero and made a phone call to him ,within seconds of speaking to him he proved to be the lawyer to represent us.


    His knowledge of our particular problem was in depth and precise he listened carefully and gave us really sound and honest advice. His professionalism in handling our case has been impressive to say the least but he has also remained sympathetic and constantly kept us up to date with everything he has been doing at every stage.


    This has helped to minimize the stress at this extremely stressful time I would have no hesitation in recommending Alvero. His professionalism and whole attitude towards his clients is second to none


    May 24, 2019
  • John Grant
    John Grant, Arrecife, Lanzarote

    Very sympathetic. Excellent advice.


    May 16, 2019
  • Margaret Mary Kelly
    Margaret Mary Kelly, Benidorm

    Juan was very professional and approachable. He was aware of the legal issues surrounding my case and responded in a timely manner. He has a calm manner and communicated in a direct but sensitive way.

    I will use the service again if I need legal help in the future.

    Muchas gracias, Juan. Margarita.


    Apr 26, 2019
  • Nicholas Lee
    Nicholas Lee, Palma

    Very good. Made me feel very comfortable in a difficult situation and helped me resolve the issue in a calm, efficient and cost effective manner. Highly recommended.


    Feb 15, 2019
  • Rhys Keely
    Rhys Keely, Mallorca

    Rosa was very understanding and helpful in all matters. She explained everything and went above and beyond to assist.


    So lucky to have found her at a difficult time.


    Jan 29, 2019
  • Val
    Val, France

    Francisca was extremely helpful. We especially appreciated the clarity and sensitivity to our situation.


    Jan 08, 2019
  • Samuel S Perrie
    Samuel S Perrie, Scotland

    Great service, always very attentive communication, was excellent via email and Skype, always let me know what was happening stage by stage.


    Nov 20, 2018
  • David Grundy
    David Grundy, UK

    Jose was very polite and we received an excellent service from him.


    Nothing was to much trouble and his communication was 2nd to none. Highly recommended!


    Aug 24, 2018
  • chobbs27 (Valencia)
    chobbs27 (Valencia)

    Needed help with a legal question about my business and Inma was just what I needed. Trustworthy, informed and keen to help.


    Mar 08, 2018
  • Martina
    Martina, Plymouth

    Erardo was fantastic and helped immensely during a very difficult situation.


    He consulted with my lawyer in the UK and explained to her what needed done. Without him the situation would not have been resolved. He was very understanding and I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending him. Outstanding.


    Mar 05, 2018
  • John Wedlake
    John Wedlake, Murro de Alcoi, Spain

    Very satisfied with Jose-Antonio's service, in particular I appreciated the completely honest appraisal of the situation. Will definitely use this service again.


    Jul 30, 2017
  • Andriy Shevchuk
    Andriy Shevchuk, Ukraine, Lviv

    Jose Antonio is a very professional lawyer. He have very good experience and clear vision of case. Also digging deeply in all details.


    Very professional Lawyer.


    Apr 05, 2017
  • Harold Thomas
    Harold Thomas, Manchester UK

    The help I received from Juan on behalf of my sister in law Sandra, was invaluable.


    He is an excellent professional who I can highly recommend, if I was ever in need of legal assistance in Spain he would definitely be the first person I would contact.


    Many thanks Juan for your help.


    Jan 13, 2017
  • Kenneth Madden
    Kenneth Madden, Gran Canaria

    Very professional, very helpful and always responded promptly to any queries I had.


    Oct 23, 2016
  • KSC
    KSC, Ireland

    She was very helpful, always happy to assist.


    I was very satisfied with the service.


    Oct 18, 2016
  • Martin Rawlings
    Martin Rawlings, Baza

    I am very pleased with the time and trouble taken by Álvaro in advising me and acting on my behalf.


    His English was more or less fluent and I would definitely use his services again.


    Apr 07, 2016