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Excluding lawyers from section 2 interviews: Has the SFO gone too far?

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Hitchins Sarah
Sarah Hitchins

Partner

London

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21 June 2016

​It has usually been taken for granted that an individual who is required to attend an interview with a UK regulator or authority can be accompanied by a lawyer of their choice. That is until now.

The other week, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published new guidance regarding when lawyers will be permitted to attend its compelled interviews.

The upshot of this new guidance is that lawyers’ attendance at SFO compelled interviews will not be guaranteed. Rather, lawyers (both those instructed to act for firms as well as individuals) will have to justify why they should attend such interviews, and sign-up to quite strict undertakings about their role during the interview (that is if they are even permitted to attend).

The SFO’s new guidance raises a number of practical issues for firms who find themselves and their employees involved in SFO investigations (whether as subjects of or as witnesses). We explore some of these issues and provide an overview of the SFO’s guidance here on our Investigations Insight blog.