Home / Europe / United Kingdom / Dispute Resolution / Corporate Crime, Compliance and Forensics

Corporate Crime, Compliance and Forensics

Back to Dispute Resolution

In an enforcement environment that is constantly evolving, our team assists clients with all aspects of corporate crime, compliance and forensics. This includes:

  •  developing controls to prevent wrongdoing occurring in your business 
  • understanding and navigating the legal issues and risks when allegations or concerns arise 
  • conducting legally defensible and (where available) legally privileged investigations, while recognising the wider risks and obligations created by the issue at hand.

Supported by a global team of over 400 expert lawyers, our UK team regularly advises corporates and individuals across multiple jurisdictions on financial crime and all other areas of criminal and regulatory risk (be it competition, cyber, environmental, health and safety or otherwise). 

Whether you want a strategy to avoid regulatory investigations, or a way to minimise the impact of unforeseen corporate crime or regulatory failure, we will provide you with clear and pragmatic advice tailored to your needs.

We understand how stressful and time-critical these matters are, with individuals facing the prospect of losing their livelihoods or even their liberty. To support our clients, our CMS Evidence collection, review and disclosure technology provides fast access to critical data; and our 24/7 Emergency Response hotline ensures we are available whenever you need us during a crisis. 

Law-Now: Fraud
Visit Law-Now for legal know-how and commentary
CMS Expert Guide to COVID-19 corporate crime & regulatory issues
The COVID-19 lockdown will not last forever. Operating both during and beyond the lockdown could throw up novel and unexpected corporate crime and liability risks for businesses. Resuming or increasing business operations as restrictions ease will en


Deferred Prosecution Agreements
Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) became available as a tool for UK prosecutors on 24 February 2014, in relation to economic offences committed by corporates.  They enable a prosecutor to reach an agreement with a defendant (sanctioned by the court) under which the defendant will avoid a criminal conviction by agreeing to certain terms and consequences (designed to reflect the level of wrongdoing covered by the DPA) and complying with those terms during the life of the agreement, which may be for a number of years. They are only available where the prosecuting authority invites the defendant to negotiate such an agreement and that will only be when the prosecutor considers that it would serve the public interest to conclude such an agreement rather than prosecute.
In the event that charges are laid and the defendant is found guilty, it will be for the court to determine what penalty should be applied.  In doing so, there are a number of factors which the court may take into account.
When will a new prosecution be brought?
While all prosecutors must apply the Full Code Test (see below) when deciding whether to prosecute an alleged offence, different prosecuting authorities may have different motivations and consider different factors when deciding the issue. Taking the example of the SFO, the Director of the SFO may institute and have conduct of any criminal proceedings which appear to him to relate to serious or complex fraud/bribery and must consider the Code for Crown Prosecutors (the Code) when deciding whether to bring charges.  A copy of the Code can be found here.
Investigatory and prosecuting authorities
In this section of our website you will find information relating to the authorities responsible for investigating and prosecuting in the UK in­clud­ing:Ser­i­ous Fraud Office (SFO)National Crime Agency (NCA)Financial Conduct Agency (FCA)Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) 
Prosecution Policy
In this section you can find out more about the authorities that may investigate and prosecute bribery and other economic crimes, as well as further information as to when those authorities may decide to prosecute and what sentencing principles may apply.
Suspicious activity reports
SARs are lawful disclosures made to prescribed persons under POCA.  SARs will usually be made to the NCA via their online system.  The purpose of the SAR regime is to assist the authorities in gathering intelligence about criminal activity.  That intelligence can then be used to assist the authorities to prevent, detect and prosecute crimes.  Therefore, the information contained in SARs may be used by the authorities to pursue further inquiries and investigations and may ultimately lead to the prosecution of wrongdoers.
Offences under POCA
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) is a vast and highly complex piece of legislation that covers not only the money laundering offences, but also the National Crime Agency (NCA)/police’s powers of confiscation, civil recovery, investigation and assistance to foreign authorities.
Money Laundering
There is an increasing focus throughout the EU and the UK on combatting money laundering.  This has resulted in increased regulation and legislation aimed at preventing money laundering and punishing those involved in it.  In this section, we explore the anti-money laundering legislative framework in the UK.
Pre-Bribery Act 2010 offences
The Bribery Act does not have retrospective effect.  Therefore, acts committed prior to 1 July 2011 will fall to be assessed under the previous bribery regime. The previous anti-bribery laws comprised complex, fragmented and overlapping offences at both common law and under various statutes.  The key offences under the pre-Bribery Act regime are:
Related offences
In this section you can find information in relation to some of the offences that may arise out of, or in conjunction with bribery. 
FAQs on Adequate Procedures
This section provides all the frequently asked questions on adequate procedures.
Adequate procedures
There is a defence to the corporate offence (but not to any of the other offences under the Act) if the corporate can show that it had in place “adequate procedures” designed to prevent bribery.  Recent cases brought to date against companies have been concluded by deferred prosecution agreement, such that their precedent value is limited.  However, it is clear that corporates will be required to conduct meaningful assessment of their bribery risks (which they can evidence) and then put in place controls proportionate to those risks and the resources/size of the business. In some cases, even substantial and sophisticated controls have been deemed inadequate where bribery was able to take place because of gaps or weaknesses in those controls.