BCL partner Michael Drury and senior associate Tom McNeill author the England & Wales chapter of Lexology’s Getting The Deal Through – Government Investigations: Global Overview exploring the mechanisms that are available to resolve a government investigation.
Getting the Deal Through provides international expert analysis in key areas of law, practice and regulation for corporate counsel, cross-border legal practitioners, and company directors and officers.
Here is a short extract from the England & Wales chapter*, which you can read in full on the Lexology website here:
What mechanisms are available to resolve a government investigation?
There are numerous potential outcomes of a government investigation, depending upon which agency conducts the investigation.
If the investigation is criminal in nature, the business or employee could be charged and prosecuted through the criminal courts. This could result in a guilty plea or, in the event of a not guilty plea, a trial. Of course, it may be that once the investigation is completed there is insufficient evidence or it is not in the public interest to prosecute according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. There are also circumstances in which the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) may decide to pursue a civil settlement rather than a criminal prosecution.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and SFO are also able to enter into deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) with businesses, thus allowing the business an opportunity to resolve the issue without being prosecuted (but effectively admitting wrongdoing of a criminal nature at a corporate level).
As a regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has mechanisms for resolving investigations that include the imposition of a financial penalty through the FCA disciplinary process. It also has a range of sanctions at its disposal, including suspending or prohibiting businesses and employees from undertaking regulated activities.
Admission of wrongdoing
Is an admission of wrongdoing by the target business required? Can that admission be used against the target in other contexts, such as related civil litigation?
An admission of wrongdoing is required if the business wants to plead guilty to a criminal offence or regulatory breach, and effectively to enter into a DPA. The position is the same if the business wants to pursue immunity with the SFO or CPS, or leniency with the Competition and Markets Authority.
*This article was first published by Lexology on 22 July 2022. If you wish to read the Government Investigations: Global Overview in full, please visit Lexology website.
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