BCL associates Jonathan Flynn and Greta Barkle’s article ‘The future of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office‘ has been published by Compliance Matters.
Here’s an extract from the article:
The badly-performing Serious Fraud Office requires a makeover, but instead is moving in the direction of reform at a leisurely pace. Nevertheless, its demise seems unlikely and it is at least planning to improve training, re-allocate resources and implement digital strategies.
When a criminal lawyer takes a case, his client always asks him how long he thinks the investigation or prosecution is going to take. Because the English criminal justice system is inefficient and crippled by budget cuts, the answer is nearly always measured in years.
Nowhere has the issue of delay been more acute than in cases investigated and prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). When Lisa Osofsky became the director of that body in 2018, people optimistically predicted that “pace and proactivity” would become the order of the day. Despite the director’s best efforts, however, the figures tell their own truth. In the last year for which statistics exist (ending in March 2019), the SFO concluded 10 cases. The majority were for criminal conduct that was said to have occurred between 2010 and 2013, with the most recent occurrance being 2015. Of the cases that proceeded to trial, the headlines consisted of high-profile acquittals – Tesco (defendants acquitted in December 2018 for conduct reported in 2014); after acquittal – Güralp (defendants acquitted in December 2019 for conduct between 2002 and 2015); after acquittal – Barclays (defendants acquitted in February 2020 for conduct in 2008).