This question is inspired by the second crash of the Boeing 737 MAX. I am focusing on the second crash because after the investigation of the first was completed it was clear that there was a danger situation, but it is not clear whether Boeing managers fully disclosed the extent of the problem. Would the planes have been grounded earlier if they did so?

As far a I know the US authorities investigated and prosecuted the manipulation of the certification process, not the events related to the second crash.

Now, in a globalised economy it may happen often that the actions committed in one country have an impact in another country. So, I would like to know: if someone is acting in a country, but by negligence causes the death of one or more persons in another country. Which country should prosecute the actions?

3 Answers 3


Every country that believes they should prosecute according to their laws can prosecute. For example, if Swiss law said it is illegal to kill Swiss citizens anywhere in the world, and there was a Swiss citizen on board, they can prosecute. Many countries will prosecute if a crime took effect in their country. If a fatally wrong decision was made in A to save money, and as a result someone in country B used a cheaper part than they should have, and as a result the plane crashes in country C, you might get prosecuted in each country with some bad luck (and the right laws).


Generally speaking, a crime can be prosecuted anywhere that any material act constituting the crime took place, and anywhere that a victim of the crime suffers any significant harm from the crime (at least if the victim's location is intended or foreseeable).

Some countries allow prosecutions for crimes without either of these usual jurisdictional requirements, but the kinds of crimes for which this is allowed would usually not include acts of criminal negligence that cause of commercial airplane to crash.

Criminal negligence causing death is a crime in many countries.


Negligence is not cause for prosecution

Crimes are cause for prosecution. If Boeings actions were criminal in a country then that country can prosecute. Or they can choose not to.

If someone has suffered loss due to the negligence of Boeing then they can sue in whichever jurisdiction seems most appropriate.

  • 2
    This is not an answer. No country made an investigation to determine whether the actions where criminal. Why? Which of the two should have investigated the actions?
    – FluidCode
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 12:15
  • 2
    Maybe, but in E&W gross negligence is cause for prosecution.
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 13:48
  • 1
    In most jurisdictions, negligent homicide is a crime, if it involves criminal negligence which is roughly equivalent to gross negligence in a civil case.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 23:25
  • 1
    @ohwilleke the OP has edited the question since I posted this answer
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 2:35
  • @DaleM Yes, I edited the title adding "gross" to the definition of negligence, but the word "criminal" was already there and the OP made clear that it is about negligence causing death.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 12:45

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