The significant social changes of recent years have resulted in increased allegations of workplace misconduct and a growing likelihood that such allegations will result in some form of internal investigation.
These investigations may be carried out by a corporate body or by an external organisation on the corporate’s behalf. They can vary in character and procedure but their impact on both complainant and accused can sometimes be devastating.
Hickman & Rose has wide experience representing individuals who are subject to allegations of misconduct at work resulting in corporate internal investigations or regulatory investigations.
We understand the stresses these investigations can cause, as well as the significant risks they pose to people who have spent years building their careers and reputation.
Internal investigation procedures vary enormously. However they often share common characteristics which give rise to similar concerns.
Firstly, it can often be the case that an internal investigation is geared more towards the interests of the employer conducting it than fairness to all parties. There are various ways in which this can happen. They include potential structural biases in the manner in which evidence is gathered and interviews arranged. There could also be issues with the way the evidence is assessed.
Strategy is key. It is important to engage constructively with an investigation, while also maintaining a robust approach.
Secondly, if not handled correctly, internal investigations can play havoc with a subject’s professional and private lives. Significant damage can be sustained long before the investigation reaches any sort of conclusion, and sometimes even if it ends with the complete vindication of the individual concerned.
Here too, planning is key. Cases vary, but it is often crucial to include the reputational factor into legal strategy from the very beginning of the case.
Thirdly, there is timing. Internal investigations can move very swiftly. It is important to engage a legal representative with the resources and inclination to respond rapidly to tight deadlines such as requests for materials or interview requests.
Professional bodies also conduct investigations. Regulated professionals working in law, finance, accountancy, medicine and education are subject to rules of professional discipline policed by their professional regulator. Being accused of breaching these rules can seriously damage an individual’s ability to earn a living, and can ruin their reputation.
There has, in recent years, been a significant growth in the powers of these professional regulatory bodies. The number of cases has surged as regulators have become increasingly willing to investigate and bring cases before tribunals.
One reason for this trend is the increasingly blurred line between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ conduct. Activities that may once have been considered private are no longer so. Professional disciplinary bodies are increasingly examining professionals’ use of social media as well as activities outside the traditional workplace.
Like internal investigations, professional disciplinary procedure varies between various regulatory bodies but there are some common themes.
Crucially, most professional regulators procedures allow a number of opportunities for the subject of the investigations to be able to make representations as to why an unmerited investigation should be discontinued.
Hickman & Rose has long-standing experience of representing individuals accused of inappropriate behaviour in all manner of tribunals. Our lawyers’ work across the criminal, regulatory and corporate investigatory landscapes gives the firm and its clients a wide breadth of knowledge and tactical awareness.
Our work frequently involves providing professional disciplinary advice on an investigation which arises from criminal allegations and we can offer representation on both sets of issues. By dealing with both investigations side-by-side, we give clients the best prospects of resolving all of the issues which affect them personally and professionally.
The firm is also acutely aware of the reputational aspect of misconduct matters and has achieved significant success in ensuring that potentially damaging matters remain outside the public domain.
Our aim is to reduce the stresses of an allegation by helping you to make the key decisions in order to protect your personal and professional interests. We will also ensure your voice is heard, so that any final decision on your case has been taken with a balanced view of the evidence.