Lawyers as Independent Investigators

The director-general of the SFO has vigorously criticised the recruitment of independent experts to investigate criminal behaviour in companies.  In August last year the Times reported him as saying, “the practice risks destroying the evidence needed to put rogue business people and bankers behind bars”.  His complaints included:

  • Doubts about the reports that often cleared clients of any illicit activity or minimised their culpability. Perhaps implying investigations are advocacy document for their clients.
  • There was often an “inherent conflict” in lawyers doing investigations for their clients.
  • Legal privilege being mishandled.
  • Crime scenes being churned up.

Enron, the News of the World, money laundering by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the BBC Saville Newsnight affair and concerns about the Royal Bank of Scotland have all involved professional, independent investigations which have prompted criticism or, sometimes, regulatory action against the professionals.  Yet investigations can be seen as a necessary and proportionate step prior to reporting to regulators; key to companies getting to grips with poor conduct; and whether, how and when to report it.

On 6pm, March 25th we will be hearing from Lord Gold at UCL as to How independent lawyer monitors and investigators contribute to corporate ethics.  He will speak from his experience as a leading adviser in business ethics advice building from his appointment by the U.S. Department of Justice as Corporate Monitor of BAE Systems plc and subsequent work for a wide range of blue chip businesses.

You can book here.

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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One Response to Lawyers as Independent Investigators

  1. Pingback: Morning round-up: Tuesday 3 March - Legal Cheek

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