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The white collar defense, investigations and regulatory landscape is constantly evolving and the personal and professional risks that individuals and corporations face have never been greater. What's next for the SFO and FCA? Post-brexit extradition and public inquiries are just some of the big topics we think are going to shape these areas over the next twelve months.
The SFO: what's next?
The embattled SFO appears to be in a period of introspection, following a string of failed individual prosecutions, the ENRC civil claim, and its very own internal investigation courtesy of Unaoil. How will they come out of this? Well, 2022 should offer plenty of chances to redeem itself with that rescheduled G4S trial, the Unaoil appeal, and the Gupta family investigation for starters. The real questions, however, are will they go back to basics focusing on fraud and criminal trials over bribery and DPAs, and what changes await corporate criminal liability?
Enforcement and the FCA
With contentious regulatory matters, we anticipate stresses and strains on the FCA's informal regulatory decisions committee, as it struggles to keep up with complex FCA enforcement cases. These pressures on the FCA will only be compounded as it seeks to use powers it has not used before to persue more cases of a criminal nature. This is going to beg the question: is the FCA's RDC fit for purpose?
Extradition in a post-brexit world
We expect to see further challenges to EU-UK extradition arrangements post-brexit, with a number of member states already indicating that they won't be extraditing their own nationals to the UK. Whether this has a significant impact on the UK's ability to extradite post-brexit remains to be seen, but it certainly takes the UK further away from its previously well-established extradition arrangements. The fairness of the UK-US extradition treaty will also come into scrutiny, regardless of the decision on the Mark Lynch case, we're likely to see an appeal in front of the High Court which will once again cause a question of whether reform is needed.
The rise in public inquiries
Over the years, there's been a significant shift in the public's need for accountability. There are currently 11 public inquiries active in the UK, including the Grenfell Tower, the undercover policing, and the infected blood inquiry. And we anticipate that this number will rise. Spring 2022 will see the start of the Covid-19 inquiry, which will likely be highly protracted and political, and it remains to be seen if all evidence will actually be heard in public. A non-statutory inquiry was announced into Wayne Couzens' conviction in October 2021, with a potential for it to turn into a statutory inquiry. Each of these inquiries remain hotly anticipated, and there are calls for more.
We have extensive and wide-ranging experience in white collar defense, investigations, and regulatory issues. If we can be of any assistance, please reach out to our team.