We act for individuals and companies caught up in investigations and prosecutions, whether as witnesses, suspects or defendants. Businesses can face allegations of involvement in all types of criminal conduct, from corporate manslaughter to fraud. Our aim is to provide first-class advice and representation and to strive for the best possible outcome for our clients, whether that is avoiding a criminal investigation altogether, securing a decision not to charge or, ultimately, achieving an acquittal in court.
We have significant experience assisting clients involved in Serious Fraud Office investigations and prosecutions. We have been involved in most of the significant cases conducted by the Serious Fraud Office over the last twenty years.
We act in Financial Conduct Authority investigations, prosecutions and civil recovery proceedings. Our clients have ranged from the former head of compliance at a global investment bank in a money laundering investigation to a former Chief Financial Officer in both criminal and civil proceedings arising out of the collapse of an AIM listed company.
We have experience dealing with other investigators and prosecutors including the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Special Casework Division, the National Crime Agency (dealing with Account Freezing Orders, Unexplained Wealth Orders, Detention and Forfeiture of Listed Assets), and HM Revenue & Customs. We have dealt with criminal tax investigations of professional firms, corporate clients (including a FTSE 250 company) and individuals.
Together we bring holistic expertise to our work. One of our partners has worked within the Financial Conduct Authority’s Enforcement, Market and Oversight Division. Another acted as an expert witness on fraud cases when the Law Society intervened in a case considering the right to legal advice and has been consulted as part of the Government’s Fraud Review. We took part in the JUSTICE working party considering Complex and Lengthy Trials and we remain engaged in the policy and legal developments affecting business crime.
Bribery and Corruption
Allegations of bribery, corruption or anti-competitive practices arise in a very wide range of circumstances. The allegations may relate to high-risk regions or sectors and can involve requests for mutual legal assistance, and the need to collaborate with lawyers in other jurisdictions. The cases tend to be complex, often with parallel investigations into both the company and individuals by prosecutors and the company itself, with the threat of criminal and civil proceedings. This complexity means it is essential to consider the full picture when making decisions right from the start and in relation to each part of the process.
We have extensive experience of defending allegations of corruption and bribery both in the UK and overseas, in circumstances where we have acted for suspects, defendants, and witnesses. We have represented chief executives, and director-level finance and compliance executives, as well as compliance officers and board-level company directors.
As examples, we have defended in a banking corruption trial in the UK, have advised in relation to football corruption investigations in France and Brazil, an airport corruption prosecution in Trinidad, and allegations of bribery and corruption in the context of mining in Brazil and West Africa. We have also represented clients in civil investigations by the Competition and Markets Authority into bid-rigging and anti-competitive practices in the construction industry, and in related police and Home Office investigations.
As in all our work, our aim is, wherever possible, to stop cases before prosecutions are brought. We have managed to secure decisions not to charge by the Serious Fraud Office, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office.
One of our partners was consulted as part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement proposals and responded on behalf of the Law Society to the Law Commission’s consultation on bribery and fraud sentencing guidelines. Our ability to advise clients is enhanced by our understanding of and participation in the processes which lead to developments in the law.
Extradition and INTERPOL
Extradition cases involve evidence from and proceedings in other jurisdictions and can be politically or economically motivated. The law is both involved and evolving, and the stakes are always very high for the subject of the extradition request. INTERPOL notices – international police requests for co-operation - can also have dramatic consequences for the individuals concerned. As recognised experts in these areas, we understand the complexities in play, and are adept in dealing with the difficulties these present.
We have a very broad and long-standing extradition expertise and have often dealt with cases which have changed the law or been high profile and politically controversial. These extradition requests have been made by countries throughout the world and have dealt with offences ranging from financial crime to terrorism.
We have successfully challenged extradition on the basis that a prosecution is politically or economically motivated and we have also won on a range of human rights grounds. We have acted in cases where the court has, exceptionally, found that extradition could not take place because of a flagrant violation of the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom from arbitrary detention.
We are also experienced in applying to INTERPOL for access to information and for the correction or deletion of Red Notices. Before joining Boutique Law, one of our partners led a successful global campaign for the reform of INTERPOL which has made it more transparent and easier to challenge.
We also bring considerable policy and academic expertise to our work in extradition. Another of our partners was an expert member of a panel reviewing the UK’s extradition law and acted for JUSTICE in its intervention in a Supreme Court case considering the rights of children in extradition proceedings. We contribute to the leading textbooks including “Halsbury’s Laws of England”, “Jones and Doobay on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance”, and “The Law of Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance”. We also write the Extradition section of “Blackstone’s Criminal Practice” and edit the “Global Investigations Review” guide to extradition and provide the UK country chapter. This insight allows us to consider legal arguments or evidential approaches which may be novel in the extradition context.
Boutique Law has been ranked in Chambers and Partners for Extradition: Band 2 with the following comments as to our strengths: “They are sheer quality and extremely good in terms of judgement and mastery of the law. If I were in trouble, I would go to them.” and “This is a strong team of experienced individuals, all able to handle complex matters.”
General Criminal Work
Criminal allegations, investigations and charges change the lives of everyone involved, whether suspects, defendants or witnesses. When acting for suspects or defendants, our approach is - where at all possible - to try to resolve cases before they get to charge, and we have a proven track record in securing decisions not to charge, as well as in acquittals at trial.
We can support victims by helping them to navigate the criminal justice system, which will pose both practical and emotional challenges for them. We are also able to help witnesses deal with sensitive, high profile and complex police investigations. Whether the witness is willing or unwilling to give evidence, and whatever the type of case, we can assist. For example, we helped a witness in a sensitive investigation into a murder where the involvement of a foreign state was suspected.
Our partners have previously prosecuted and / or defended every sort of criminal case in the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts from theft to drugs related offences to murder and terrorism. Our criminal experience also includes more specialised matters under the under the Insolvency Act and the Official Secrets Act.
We understand the particular issues that can arise for professionals, or those in the public eye who face criminal allegations. We were instructed by a former senior member of the Prime Minister’s staff caught up in the Metropolitan Police Service investigation into alleged breaches of the Covid-19 legislation, and secured a decision not to issue a fine to them at the conclusion of the investigation. We have acted for a wide range of professionals facing criminal allegations including journalists, solicitors, teachers, doctors and nurses.
We can help in making the many difficult decisions that have to be made, from whether to engage with an investigation to deciding whether to answer questions in an interview under caution. We take a proactive approach to considering evidence that may need to be secured to ensure a positive outcome in a criminal investigation or prosecution.
We also have very substantial experience in criminal appeals. One of our partners was a specialist lawyer at the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) and a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Another partner is a former member of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee and EU Criminal Law Working Group, and International Human Rights Committee. Another has lectured on criminal law, evidence and procedure at the University of London and the University of Westminster. We have also been consulted by the Law Commission as part of their work considering search warrants and the reform of criminal appeals. We believe it is essential to be aware of and involved in the development of the law in this area.
Money Laundering and Sanctions
The legislative and regulatory regimes for money laundering and sanctions are constantly changing, complicated and sometimes draconian. The anti money laundering laws and regulations affect individuals and businesses in relation to individual transactions and require general compliance with the relevant regimes. The impact of non-compliance can be severe. Similarly, sanctions regimes are now more frequently used, and are expanding in their scope – which means that increasing numbers of individuals and companies are either subject to sanctions themselves or must comply with the sanctions regime because they are dealing with those who have been sanctioned.
We act for individuals who are being investigated or prosecuted for money laundering and also for business-owners, professionals and corporate clients seeking practical advice on fulfilling their legal obligations. We often advise on the risks relating to money laundering in the context of other allegations of criminality and provide practical compliance advice about anti-money laundering legislation to other firms of solicitors, professional bodies and corporate clients.
We also advise on compliance with the sanctions regimes. We have acted for employees of a UK high street bank involved in a US sanctions investigation and have dealt with challenges to sanctions involving Egypt, Russia and Iran. We advise individuals or companies who are sanctioned and are therefore subject to restrictions. This includes advising in relation to licence applications to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.
One of our partners is the author of the Money Laundering chapter in “Fraud: Criminal Law & Procedure” published by Oxford University Press and was consulted by the Law Commission as part of its assessment of the current legislation. We have spoken on the developments in relation to sanctions at conferences held by the American Bar Association and the European Criminal Law Association. Money laundering and sanctions are both constantly evolving fields of law and this engagement ensures we remain up to date.
Mutual Legal Assistance
Mutual legal assistance is concerned with facilitating co-operation between countries so that they can assist each other in criminal investigations and prosecutions. It can also be used by the defence to access material held overseas. Mutual legal assistance may include the collection of information and evidence such as documents or witness statements or may be directed towards the confiscation and forfeiture of assets, or the serving of documents. Any material obtained from overseas is subject to strict rules as to its use. Like any other international process, it is often complex and challenging, and requires a considered, practical and strategic approach.
Our experience of mutual legal assistance is multi-faceted. One of our partners has worked within the Home Office’s Mutual Legal Assistance Department, and we have acted for governments making requests. We have also acted for witnesses affected by requests, for clients who seek to comply with or to challenge requests made to the UK and for defendants who want to use mutual legal assistance to access evidence from overseas. This means that we can advise on any aspect of the process, including considering whether materials which have been requested are subject to legal professional privilege.
Our work has included dealing with requests arising from a corruption investigation in Brazil and a tax investigation in the USA. We have acted in a substantial Financial Conduct Authority investigation involving requests to multiple countries. The case raised interesting and complex arguments about when prosecuting authorities may use mutual legal assistance obtained for criminal proceedings in other related non-criminal proceedings. We have dealt with the provision of evidence before the Magistrates’ Court, freezing and production orders, and search warrants. We have made successful challenges to the service of a foreign judgment and to the transmission of interviews given in response to a mutual legal assistance request.
We have contributed to the two leading textbooks on mutual legal assistance: “Jones and Doobay on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance”, and “The Law of Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance”.
Regulatory and Disciplinary
There are now a myriad of bodies which regulate conduct in almost every context, from student disciplinary processes to professional regulation. Practice and procedure vary greatly between regulators and investigations can be complex. Regulatory sanctions, sometimes for conduct which in another context would be criminal, can have a devastating effect on a person’s life, livelihood and reputation. Public inquiries, whilst they may not directly impose sanctions, can also have a significant impact on people called to give evidence, whether in a professional or a personal capacity and can involve intrusion into their private lives. Findings by an inquiry can also have serious consequences.
We provide advice and representation in investigations by a wide range of regulatory and disciplinary bodies. We have often succeeded in persuading regulators to take no, or nominal, regulatory action.
Most commonly, we have dealt with serious allegations of dishonesty and professional misconduct made against firms and solicitors by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This has included advice on self-reports, and assistance during investigations or before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. We have also dealt with the General Medical Council and police disciplinary matters and have advised in connection with student disciplinary proceedings. We have also acted on appeal before the International Psychoanalytical Association.
Our breadth of experience makes us well-equipped to deal with statutory Inquiry work; we have advised potential witnesses to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the Covid Inquiry, and generally in relation to the scope of the Inquiries Act 2005. One of our partners also conducted a high profile independent inquiry into student disciplinary processes at a Russell Group university.