Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

GIR Awards 2018 – Most Important Court Case of the Year

21 September 2018

GIR Awards 2018 – Most Important Court Case of the Year The GIR Awards are held in aid of the Swawou Layout School in Sierra Leone

The 2018 Awards will take place on the evening of 25 October after the GIR Live DC Fall conference, which is scheduled for earlier that afternoon.

The black-tie event will provide a chance to celebrate the investigations lawyers and practices that have impressed most in the past year, and is held in aid of Swawou Layout Girl’s School in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which helps disadvantaged girls in the region.

GIR’s top 30 investigations practices will be revealed at the awards. GIR will also highlight the most notable developments in the field, and unveil its career achievement award for one exceptionally accomplished and respected individual.

The nominees for the GIR Award for Most Important Court Case of the Year are:

Director of the Serious Fraud Office v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited

In September, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales overturned a controversial High Court decision that threatened to undermine the notion of litigation privilege in the country. The court ruled that litigation privilege applies to mining company ENRC’s internal investigation documents because they were created in contemplation of a criminal prosecution by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. Lawyers called the ruling a “victory for common sense”. The Law Society of England and Wales, which intervened in the case, said that the appellate court ruling reasserts the fundamental principle of client-lawyer confidentiality

Counsel to ENRC

Hogan Lovells

Partner Michael Roberts in London

Fountain Court Chambers

Bankim Thanki QC, Tamara Oppenheimer and Rebecca Loveridge in London

Counsel to the Law Society 

Reed Smith

Partner Eoin O’Shea in London

Blackstone Chambers 

Dinah Rose QC and David Pievsky in London 

For the SFO

Eversheds Sutherland

Bright Line Law

Jonathan Fisher QC in London

Blackstone Chambers

James Segan and Eesvan Krishnan in London

Volkswagen's complaint to Germany's Federal Constitutional Court

In a much-anticipated ruling, Germany’s highest court said in July that – despite privilege claims – prosecutors in Munich could examine documents seized from Jones Day as part of an emissions investigation into Volkswagen unit Audi. The court ruled that the raid of Jones Day’s Munich office was not unconstitutional, dismissing arguments by the firm and company that privileged material was illegally seized. The court told Jones Day that as it is a US law firm it had no constitutional right to bring the claim.

Counsel to Volkswagen

Krause & Kollegen 

Partner Daniel Krause in Berlin

Professor Joachim Wieland in Bonn

Counsel to Jones Day


Partners Rainer Hamm and Jürgen Pauly, assisted by Christoph Tute in Frankfurt

United States v Hoskins

In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sided with a former executive at French company Alstom who argued that the US Department of Justice had overreached in its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act case against him. Judges rejected the DOJ’s expansive application of the FCPA, asserting that Congress designed the statute to limit when it applies to foreign nationals. The ruling, which was issued 18 months after oral arguments were heard, is a rare example of a circuit court decision on the application of the FCPA.

Counsel to Lawrence Hoskins

Clifford Chance

Partners Christopher Morvillo and Daniel Silver in New York, assisted by Benjamin Peacock

For the DOJ

Attorney Sangita Rao in the criminal division’s appellate section, trial attorney Jeremy Sanders in the criminal division’s fraud section and assistant US attorneys Sandra Glover and David Novick in the US Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut

R (AL) v Serious Fraud Office

Two judges at the High Court of England and Wales in obiter remarks in a 19 April judicial review decision criticised the SFO for failing to demand the written internal interview notes from a company known as XYZ before offering it a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in 2016.

The judicial review case was brought by a former XYZ employee, known as AL, who was charged by the SFO in February 2017 with two counts of conspiracy to corrupt and one conspiracy to bribe. AL, who was the first individual to bring a claim seeking documents from the SFO following a DPA, raised the issue after failing to obtain records of interviews conducted by the company in its internal investigation, which he requested from the authority to prepare for trial. The judges said that the SFO had committed “a series of public law errors” in failing to demand the interview notes from XYZ. In the obiter remarks, the judges’ remarks addressed the SFO’s disclosure obligations to individuals undergoing trials following a DPA, and that it is settled law that privilege does not attach to the written notes of internal investigation notes.

Counsel to AL

Irwin Mitchell

Matrix Chambers

Tim Owen QC in London

Exchange Chambers

Neil Hawes QC in London

High Pavement Chambers

James Horne in London

For the SFO

6 King’s Bench Walk College Hill

Jonathan Hall QC and Adam Payter

QEB Hollis Whiteman

Paul Raudnitz in London

SEC v Cohen et al

A US district judge in Brooklyn dismissed the Securities and Exchange Commission's foreign bribery case against two former executives of US hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management in July, ruling that the claims were time-barred. The executives argued that the Supreme Court ruling in Kokesh v SEC – which limits the SEC’s use of disgorgement to a five-year limitations period – barred the authority from seeking remedies for alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. The judge agreed, adding that the SEC was also barred from seeking injunctive relief because it was “at least partly” punitive in nature, and thus covered by Kokesh.

Counsel for Michael Cohen

Morrison & Foerster

Partner Ronald White and of counsel Kayvan B Sadeghi, assisted by Amanda Aikman in New York

Counsel for Vanja Baros

Cohen & Gresser

Partners Mark Cohen and Jonathan Abernethy in New York

For the SEC

Paul Block and Rory Alex of the Boston regional office, with the litigation led by Marc Jones and Martin Healey

Registration for the awards is now open.

If you have worked on any of the nominated settlements but are not listed please contact us here