“A formidable presence in the health and safety market, bringing the firm’s expertise in criminal law to bear on its defence work.”
Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues have become a significant concern across the world. The growing public interest in this area, partly propelled by an increasing awareness of global problems such as climate change and pandemics, is driving purchasing and investment decisions and leading to increasing regulation to ensure the safety and protection from harm of individuals and the environment.
However diligent a business is, evolving regulatory risks in response to societal, political and technological change (for example, increased regulation in specific sectors such as the environment or in relation to specific activities such as greenwashing) can lead to an unexpected compliance and public relations crisis requiring immediate specialist advice.
Whilst the ESG acronym and rising publicity may be relatively recent, we have longstanding expertise across a wide spectrum of ESG risks, including environmental protection, health and safety, consumer protection and product safety, food safety and hygiene, data protection, online harms, anti-bribery and corruption, anti-money laundering, proceeds of crime, cartels and price fixing, modern slavery and supply chain due diligence. When things go wrong, we use our highly regarded experience in crisis management and internal investigations to rapidly help take control of a crisis, manage the response, quickly identify and remedy any residual compliance risks and effectively engage with regulators. Importantly, we will always ensure that businesses understand the sometimes unclear boundaries of criminal-regulatory provisions, to inform decisions about what ESG steps they choose to take, above and beyond what the law requires. We also assist with difficult issues such as whether, if a business has received a benefit (even inadvertently) from a domestic or overseas breach of the law, it has a duty to report under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
In the event of an investigation or prosecution by a regulator, our regulatory and criminal pedigree and array of leading specialists provides access to multi-disciplinary advice to ensure the best possible outcome in the most serious, complex and high-profile matters. We ensure the minimum of business interruption and reputational damage and recognise the need to maintain strong ongoing working relationships with regulators.
We provide specialist advice and representation to organisations and directors in areas such as:
- Crisis management.
- Legally privileged internal investigations.
- Responding to regulatory investigations by the Environment Agency, Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC), Ofwat, Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Local Authorities, Food Standards Agency (FSA), National Food Crime Unit, Police, National Crime Agency (NCA), HMRC, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom, including advising regarding regulators’ powers.
- Dealing with multiple regulators and overlapping allegations.
- Proactively engaging with regulators to minimise the risk of enforcement action.
- Remedial action.
- POCA issues arising from breaches in a business’ supply chain.
- Requests to attend formal PACE interviews under caution.
- Defending prosecutions of companies and individuals for alleged offences in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court.
Advising an online retailer regarding allegations of supply chain due diligence failings, including allegations of modern slavery.
Advising a major utility company regarding overlapping investigations by multiple regulators in relation to environmental harm.
Advising a U.K. plc on potential proceeds of crime issues arising from complaints of the use of child labour and forced labour by overseas suppliers.
Advising a fertiliser manufacturer and directors, and an associated business, in relation to an Environment Agency investigation concerning the operation of a suspected ‘illegal waste site’.
Advising a company regarding consumer protection issues and product recall following the identification of potential product safety issue.