BCL Solicitors LLP are delighted to be named in the Global Investigations Review (GIR) top 100 investigations firms 2021 – a guide to the world’s leading firms for corporate investigations.
The GIR 100 is an annual guide to the world’s leading cross-border investigations practices. Based on extensive research, they have selected 100 firms from around the world able to handle sophisticated cross-border government-led and internal investigations.
Here is the GIR 100 profile for BCL Solicitors:
Boutique firm BCL Solicitors in London has built an impressive roster of lawyers specialising in business crime defence. The firm is awash with homegrown talent as internal promotions make up most of the firm’s recent new partners.
BCL Solicitors is one of a few niche UK criminal defence firms that specialise in defending companies and individuals in criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. The firm has 10 partners and 11 associates. It has had a role in many of the SFO’s biggest investigations in recent years, representing executives in the agency’s probes targeting Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Barclays and Unaoil.
BCL was founded by Ian Burton, a seasoned criminal defence specialist listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations and Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. As senior partner, he has been involved in some of the most significant business crime investigations and prosecutions brought by the UK authorities over the past two decades.
Another name to know is partner Michael Drury, who was formerly the director for legal affairs at GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and security organisation.
Richard Sallybanks, another long-standing partner at the firm, has acted for individuals in various recent SFO probes including those targeting oil services company Petrofac, aerospace company Airbus and UK lender Barclays.
Jane Glass, who has been a partner at the firm for over 20 years, acts for clients in a wide range of business sectors, from financial services to sport, who are facing criminal or regulatory probes.
Drury, Sallybanks and Glass are also listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations alongside partners Harry Travers and Shula de Jersey. Sallybanks, Travers, de Jersey and Shaul Brazil are also listed in Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. Brazil meanwhile also featured in GIR’s 40 Under 40 list in 2017.
The firm has had a stable practice in recent years with few senior hires or departures, although partner Guy Bastable left the firm to join Burges Salmon in Bristol in May 2021 as the firm’s head of corporate crime. Most of BCL’s recent additions to its partnership have been internal promotions.
BCL clients typically are individuals facing high-stakes criminal investigations in the UK or abroad, although the vast majority of the firm’s instructions are confidential. The firm is representing executives in a significant number of the SFO’s largest ongoing investigations.
The firm also has had a string of impressive corporate representations. It is currently representing a group of companies facing criminal investigations in Denmark, Germany and the UK over cum-ex trades that deprived European countries of billions in unclaimed tax revenue.
The firm also represented Monaco oil consultancy Unaoil, alongside several other firms, in connection with a sprawling investigation into the consultancy and various oil services and engineering companies that relied on it. The SFO discontinued its investigation into Unaoil in June 2019 without charging the company.
BCL has represented executives in SFO investigations into large corporates, including Tesco, pharmaceutical company GSK, engineering giant Rolls Royce, cigarette maker British American Tobacco and aerospace company Airbus. In addition, the firm regularly assists clients in extradition proceedings.
The firm’s reputation is such that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought out its help in a private prosecution brought against him by a political activist, according to a UK court judgment. The individual accused Johnson of misconduct in a public office for allegedly making false statements about Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum. BCL successfully dismissed the matter at the High Court of England and Wales in June 2019.
The firm has a strong record of helping its clients secure acquittals in fraud and corruption trials. Sallybanks secured an acquittal for Tesco’s former food commercial director John Scouler in 2018 after a judge ruled that prosecutor’s evidence against him was too weak. Scouler was charged alongside two other former executives in 2016, both of whom were also acquitted.
In another case, Brazil represented John Dougall, a former vice president at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy, in a Greek bribery investigation. Dougall was acquitted of fraud and money laundering in July 2019 because he had already been convicted of bribery in the UK on the same facts.
Many of BCL’s clients have avoided charges altogether in SFO probes. Sallybanks acted for Barclays’ former general counsel, Mark Harding, in connection with an SFO investigation into the bank’s fundraising efforts in Qatar. Harding was not charged in the investigation. The SFO charged four other former Barclays executives in the matter, who were all acquitted in 2020.
BCL also acted for an individual who was interviewed under caution in an investigation by the SFO into ICBC Standard Bank over bribery and corruption in Africa. ICBC Standard Bank agreed to pay £33 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent bribery in the UK’s first-ever deferred prosecution agreement.
The firm also has a history of acting for corporates. BCL has previously advised Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura Beheer in response to multiple global investigations and proceedings arising from a toxic waste dump in the Ivory Coast.
GIR’s guide to the world’s top 100 corporate investigation firms can be found here.