The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.
If you are a business owner or director caught up of the midst of a criminal investigation, it can put immense strain on you both personally and professionally, and can be irreversibly damaging to your reputation.
- How we help you
Our specialist Business Crime team can help to protect the personal and commercial interests of anyone facing a criminal investigation. With our intervention many enquiries can often be resolved early on in the process through negotiation without the need to enter into criminal proceedings.
We have extensive experience in dealing with regulatory enforcement including asbestos, health and safety, the Environment Agency and planning breaches. Also, fraud, money laundering, proceeds of crime and director’s responsibility.
We work with many clients who have been accused of fraudulent behaviour, ranging from local investigations through to national and international cases, as well as with those businesses who are concerned about falling foul of the complex regulations. Our experts are experienced in representing clients interviewed by investigating authorities and right through to court representation for those who face prosecution.
- Money Laundering
Many businesses are now concerned about money laundering and its strict regulations. Violations could occur by handling money or property that may have accrued through crime, whether as a consequence of breaching a law or by innocently being in possession of another's criminal property. We regularly advise both those suspected or accused of money laundering and those who are concerned to avoid it. We can also advise on systems to reduce the risk of money laundering through a business.
- Proceeds of Crime
Restraint of your assets can take place long before any finding of guilt if you are under investigation for fraud or money laundering. The recovery of cash, property and land has become an increasingly common target for law enforcers in recent years. The state can seize and potentially keep an individual's or businesses' assets in either civil or criminal proceedings. Increasingly, even technical breaches of business law are being met with applications to seize and recover whatever property may be available. If you find yourself in this situation, we will give you immediate straight-talking, practical legal advice, and fully represent you in any court proceedings.
- Director's Responsibility
When you take on the role of a director of a business you automatically become responsible for the actions of your company and its employees and, as a result, you can face personal criminal responsibility for those actions, if warranted. Directors’ obligations are often overlooked, which is why, as legal advisors, we treat them with such importance when providing advice on setting up directorships. Directorial responsibility is especially important in areas of Health and Safety and Environment Agency investigations, interviews and enforcement, and needs meticulous attention. If you do find yourself under investigation or facing prosecution, we have extensive experience in advising and representing company directors in this situation.
- Regulatory Enforcement
Regulatory enforcement can cause a great headache for many businesses. As a company owner you are expected to be compliant at all times and need to be prepared for any issues which may arise in relation to regulations and your obligations to your stakeholders. Ignorance is no defence and there could be occasions where you may run into difficulties. If you do, our regulatory enforcement team is extremely experienced in advising and representing individuals and businesses that are under investigation as well as offering advice on preventative measures to ensure that regulations are met.
The tightening of recent legislation in relation to the management of asbestos in property has meant new liabilities for businesses. As a business owner your obligation to consider Asbestos in your property, especially in respect of commercial properties, is now mandatory and risks criminal sanctions. Working closely with our Business Services Team, we offer advice and representation to those concerned about their obligations to avoid prosecution, as well as for those suspected or accused of breaching the regulations, including in investigatory interviews and enforcement action.
- Health and Safety
No business can risk overlooking workplace health, safety and welfare obligations. If you have control of a workplace or public place you are liable to be scrutinised by either your Local Council Health and Safety Department or the Health and Safety Executive. There is a duty on the authorities to proactively investigate and take enforcement action in respect of potential health and safety breaches. Falling foul of the rules can be extremely serious. We are experts in this complex area of law, with experience in both Health and Safety planning and prevention and in defending or resisting regulatory enforcement action. This combination of experience allows us to represent and advise individuals and businesses across the region on a variety of Health and Safety related issues. This includes both preventative interventions and for those subject to investigation or prosecution, including in investigatory interviews, notice appeals and prosecutions.
- Environment Agency
Failure to comply with environmental regulations is a serious business. It can lead to prosecution for breaches of environmental legislation for issues such as Hazardous Waste, Pollution and Environmental Permits. The Environment Agency, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) take a very strong approach to regulation and a negative outcome from an investigation can often be detrimental to a business’s reputation. We provide advice and representation to businesses and individuals throughout the investigation and regulation process, including in investigatory interviews, notice appeals and prosecutions. We aim to limit the damage to your business.
- Planning Breaches
Whether you are involved in a small, local development or a major commercial operation, the process of dealing with alleged infringement of the planning regulations can be arduous and often demands specialist and early advice. We have considerable technical expertise in dealing with Enforcement procedures in relation to alleged breaches of the Planning rules and regulations. We conduct appeals against Enforcement Notices and Planning Enquiries and defend prosecutions for alleged breaches of Enforcement Notices, in the Magistrates' and Crown Court.
- Other Agencies
Regulatory enforcement can be undertaken by a range of agencies including HM Revenue and Customs, UK Border Agency, Utility Companies, RSPCA and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. If you come under agency investigation, we have extensive experience in dealing with investigations and enforcement actions by all of these agencies, both at the investigatory stage and in Court.