GIR Practitioner’s Guide 2020 – Individuals Issues in Parallel or Cross-Border Investigations UK

GIR Practitioner’s Guide 2020 – Individuals Issues in Parallel or Cross-Border Investigations UK

BCL partner Richard Sallybanks and associates Ami Amin and Jonathan Flynn write the chapter titled ‘Individuals in Cross-Border Investigations or Proceedings: The UK Perspective’ for Global Investigations Review: The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations.

Below is a short extract from their chapter*. The full chapter can be read as a pdf here.


In any cross-border investigation, invariably suspects will either be located in different jurisdictions, or subject to investigation by authorities from different jurisdictions, or both.

This chapter looks at the key issues that can arise when acting for an individual who is present in the United Kingdom and subject to a criminal investigation or proceedings here or in one or more overseas jurisdictions.

Cross-border co-operation

There are various ways in which the United Kingdom might co-operate with overseas agencies or regulators when investigating or prosecuting an individual, ranging from informal ‘intelligence sharing’ to mutual legal assistance (MLA).

In the United Kingdom, the framework governing MLA requests is contained, primarily, in the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (CICA), Part 1 of which deals with criminal cases. Under CICA, an MLA request can only be made if it appears to the investigating authority that an offence has been committed (or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed), and proceedings have been initiated or an investigation has begun. MLA requests are made to the UK Central Authority (UKCA) through a formal international letter of request, known as a commission rogatoire in civil law jurisdictions. The UK Home Office has published detailed guidance on how authorities outside the United Kingdom can make such requests. MLA requests will only be considered appropriate, however, when the request is for evidence (and not intelligence).

Where overseas police and other law enforcement agencies request assistance directly from a UK law enforcement agency, a formal MLA request is not required. A number of UK law enforcement agencies can receive direct requests, and often this form of co-operation is governed by data sharing agreements or memoranda of understanding.

In some instances, cross-border co-operation may extend to the establishment of a joint investigation team (JIT) between investigating agencies in more than one country. The establishment of a JIT is another means by which information or evidence gathered in one country can be shared with another without the need for MLA.

*An extract from the fourth edition of The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations. The whole publication is available on the GIR website here.

About the authors:

Richard Sallybanks has been a partner at BCL since 1999 and specialises in complex business crime and regulatory defence work, acting for individuals and companies who are either targets of the investigation or who are providing assistance to investigating authorities, whether through the provision of documentation or in interviews.

Richard has been involved in numerous SFO, FCA, HMRC & CMA investigations and prosecutions, together with associated restraint and confiscation proceedings. His recent SFO experience includes the Alstom, Barclays Qatar, and Tesco investigations (acting for senior individuals under suspicion, including the UK Commercial Director of Tesco who was acquitted at trial of fraud and false accounting charges), as well as acting for Robert Tchenguiz (and his associated companies) in the SFO’s Kaupthing Bank investigation (including the successful Judicial Review challenge to SFO search warrants).

Ami Amin is an associate specialising in business crime, acting for individuals under investigation for allegations of fraud, bribery, corruption and regulatory offences, in particular, senior executives under investigation by UK and overseas authorities, including the SFO, the NCA, the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jonathan Flynn is an employed barrister specialising in criminal and regulatory law. He has particular expertise in fraud, bribery and corruption, restraint and confiscation proceedings, and general crime. Jonathan has acted in a number of high-profile, complex and multi-jurisdictional cases, including investigations / prosecutions by the Crown Prosecution Service, Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue & Customs, Serious Fraud Office and National Crime Agency.