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Case Study Information

The Task

You must write a case study relating to a selected example of white collar crime involving regulatory failure. You must select one of the following cases:

  1. the collapse of insurance company HIH
  2. the AWB scandal
  3. the Esso Longford gas explosion

Your case study must discuss the failure of regulation in your chosen topic and:

  • Document the crime/misbehaviour & regulatory failure in a brief summary of facts
  • Include a literature review synthesising the existing literature relevant to the area of crime and regulation, provide a case analysis, explaining how and why the failure of regulation occurred
  • Analyse and evaluate the policy and regulatory implications of the case
  • Adhere to normal academic standards for structure, argument, presentation, referencing


The case study must be predominantly analytic and explanatory, and draw on the relevant literature. You are expected to read more widely than just the set readings.  The following assessment criteria will apply:

  • Does the case study concisely describe the crime/misbehaviour & regulatory failure?
  • Does it focus mainly on the regulatory system in place and why and how it failed in this instance?
  • Are the white collar crime and regulatory literatures used to explain this failure, and examine its implications?
  • Are key terms and concepts explained?
  • Are there any significant errors or omissions?
  • Were sufficient or key references used?
  • Was information from different sources well integrated?
  • Was the case study logically and coherently structured?
  • Was it well written?
  • Was the case study appropriately and consistently referenced?
  • Did it keep reasonably to the word limit?

Remember this must be a case study of regulatory failure, not just white collar crime.  Make sure you identify who should have been regulating the situation, why it didn’t work, and link the case to the literature studied in the latter topics of this course.

Tips for writing the assignment

Your case study needs to start with an introduction, then comprise description, theoretical review and analysis, and a conclusion.

  • The introduction should introduce the case study, identify its goal, and give a brief overview of the argument.
  • The description should be a very succinct run-down of enough facts to show what the case is about and why it is relevant to this subject. Provide a brief summary of what happened, show why it is relevant to the topic of regulatory failure, and what type of WCC is involved. Avoid getting into too much detail.
  • Your theoretical review needs to synthesise relevant literature about white collar crime and regulation in order to inform your analysis of the case. You need to canvass what the literature says about the type of crime you are examining, and what it says about regulating it. Focus on the literature/theory (ies) that are relevant to your chosen area of crime and regulation, not on a general overview of everything you’ve read so far. Start with the course readings, but you will need to access more specific literature on your chosen area.
  • Your analysis should apply relevant theory (ies) to your particular case, to explain how and why it happened, and why the relevant regulation failed. You must be beyond describing what happened, think about why it happened: who were the regulators; what did they do or didn’t do; use the theory (ies) that you have described
  • In the conclusion, restate the main purpose of the paper, summarise your argument and make conclusions about the effectiveness of regulation in dealing with your chosen area
  • Think briefly about what are the regulatory implications? E.g., should more regulations be put in place? Should the existing regulations be enforced more strongly? In a different manner?

For this assignment, you will need to go beyond the set readings and access relevant literature. Information on the cases is available from the academic literature (e.g., journal articles, books); from the government literature (e.g., reports, Royal Commissions); from the media (e.g., ABC Four Corners); from the regulators’ reports (available on their website). You must reference anything you cite, use quotation marks for when you quote someone’s exact words, and provide a reference list of all the works you have used. The preferred referencing style is the author-date system, as described in the CCJ Essay Writing and Study Guide and the Faculty of Arts Guide to Referencing (posted on Learning@Griffith, under other resources). APA style is also acceptable but do not use legal referencing (i.e., with footnotes). Again, the main thing is to use one referencing style consistently.

The most frequent mistake in the case study in previous offerings has been to focus too much on the facts of a case, or aspects of the crimes that occurred, without analysing what regulatory scheme was in place and why the regulation did not work. Try to avoid this! E.g., say your case-study is about the HIH collapse: you will find a lot of literature both journalistic and academic that talks about it; do not spend ¾ of the word length describing the timeline, the costs, who was affected, etc. Instead, think about why and how it happened: Who was supposed to regulate HIH’s activities? What was their approach? Did they do what they were supposed to do? Why not? Why didn’t it work as it was supposed to? Could it have been avoided? Did someone blow the whistle but was ignored? Does this mean some rules should be changed?

You need to apply a theory to your case study and examine the facts through the lens of the theory; e.g., responsive regulation and the enforcement pyramid: the pyramid suggests persuasion and compliance should be used first; if this does not work, the response goes up to the next level: warning letters and notices that prosecution will be used if nothing is done; nothing is done to address the problem, so license is suspended. Look at the facts of your case study: did these steps take place? Did the first step take place but not the second one when it should have? Why was the second step not taken?

To assist you to quickly find the inquiry report for your selected case study, here are links to the reports for all three inquiries:


Esso Longford


Section Main criteria Mark
Introduction Introduces study, identifies goal, gives brief overview of what is to come /6
Description Describes facts of case succinctly, explains relevance to topic /20
Theoretical review Reviews literature on WCC & regulation, identifies & synthesises main theoretical perspectives informing the paper /20
Analysis Identifies & analyses main issues – eg corporate criminality, globalisation, criminalisation, compliance – & how they are illustrated in this case /20
Conclusion Re-states main purpose, summarises argument, makes conclusions about regulatory effectiveness in this area /4
Research & referencing Draws on relevant source material, both descriptive & theoretical

Properly & consistently references sources

Appropriate list of references

Structure & argument Logical & appropriate structure, makes an argument rather than just describing, coherent & to the point /10
Presentation Spelling, grammar, sentence & paragraph construction, easy to read /4