- At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
- Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
- Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
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- We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
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- Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
- Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
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Companies to be prosecuted for failing to prevent economic crime
On 2 September 2014, in a speech given to Cambridge Symposium entitled “Shield, Sword and Achilles Heel in the fight against economic crime”, Jeremy Wright, the attorney general, confirmed that the Government is considering the creation of an offence of corporate failure to prevent economic crime. The offence will be modelled on the offence of failure to prevent bribery in section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 – a vicarious liability offence, where the company can be found guilty if the bribery was carried out by a subsidiary, employee or agent.
Framed as a reaction to recent misconduct in the UK banking sector, such as the LIBOR-fixing scandal and the record-breaking fines imposed on Lloyds Bank and others in recent years, Wright said that Government recognises an increasing desire to hold corporates liable for criminal offences to dispel the myth that white-collar crime is victimless:
“Ultimately, the losses will fall on members of the public, by reducing the value of investments and pensions funds, or increasing the prices people pay for goods… The Government has made it a priority to ensure we have the correct laws and structures in place [to] tackle fraud and corruption.”
Historically, prosecuting companies (other than for corporate manslaughter offences, where a separate legal regime applies) in the UK has been difficult as companies may usually only be found liable for acts of employees and agents if the offender represents someone who is the “directing mind and will” of the company. However, commentators have already begun to question whether this type of offence will ever be used to bring criminal proceedings against large banks. Even in the US, where the prosecution of corporate entities is more commonplace, such corporate offences have never been successfully utilised against the larger institutional banks for their role in the sub-prime mortgage scandal and other economic crimes.
As Matt Taibbi explains, in his latest book “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap”, due to a policy of what became known as Collateral Consequences, since 2008 no high-ranking executive from any financial institution has gone to jail or multi-national bank successfully prosecuted.
Put simply, Collateral Consequences meant that when prosecutors were deciding to bring a criminal charge against a bank, they could “take into account the possibility [of] substantial consequences to a corporation’s officers, directors, employees and shareholders, many of whom may, depending on the size and nature…of the corporation and their role in its operations, have played no role in the criminal conduct, have been completely unaware of it, or have been wholly unable to prevent it.”
According to Matt Taibbi, this policy led to prosecutors becoming wary of bringing any criminal action against banks deemed “too big to fail” which could damage the economy, particularly as the prosecutors were ill-equipped to predict the consequences of such damage. “The attorney general of the United States,” reported Taibbi, “was saying that the economy had grown so complicated that his own office was now and henceforth helpless to decide on its own whether it was okay to prosecute.”
Will we see a difference in the UK under the latest proposed new legislation? Having had to ask for a budget increase already this year due to the number of high profile investigations currently being run by the SFO, will it have sufficient resources to pursue institutions which can afford to assemble panels of lawyers commanding the highest rates, all dedicated to defending such claims?
No timescale has been given for when the legislation is likely to be enacted, although it seems unlikely this will happen before the 2015 General Election.
For further information please contact Charles Claisse.