Expert team

Compliance /
Internal Investigations

Businesses must base their behavior on legal rules and regulations. Ensuring this is becoming ever more important, as the general regulatory requirements and sanctions that may be imposed in the event of statutory violations are steadily increasing. Management is primarily responsible for any defaults in this respect. Our team of experts will guide you through all the compliance-related measures with the required know-how, from developing an organization tailored to the risk profile of your business to examining potential statutory violations.

Compliance –

legal conformity and prosecution of rights

In addition to ensuring a compliant organization, businesses must, given indications of illegal activities, initiate internal investigations to clarify the facts of the case and to introduce the required measures for the prosecution of rights and/or sanctions under labor law in individual cases.
Waiving an internal investigation not only puts a business at risk of damage and liability, but also its management, if it fails to properly safeguard the interests of the business. Finally, depending on the circumstances, the business may face not only a financial loss, but also – in the event that a statutory violation becomes known to the public – a considerable loss of reputation.

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An essential component of compliance is adherence to national and international statutory regulations. If these are violated, sanctions ensue in different forms depending on the corporate purpose of a business, either as an administrative offense subject to a fine or as a criminal offense of the director or officer authorized to represent the business. Meanwhile, the regulations to be complied with are becoming ever more complex, as demonstrated by the Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz) passed in Germany, the imminent implementation of the European Whistleblower Directive, and the German Association Sanctions Act (Verbandssanktionengesetz) that is currently going through the legislative process. Only by implementing a compliance management system adapted to the respective business can the risk of legal violations and cases of liability be effectively counteracted. This system often includes compliance with voluntarily established internal guidelines, the introduction of which may also be subject to co-determination. Our team of experts will analyze your current organization and work with you to ensure a viable compliance management structure that prevents the risk of legal violations. If suspicious cases arise, our team of experts will support you in using internal investigations to work through potential legal violations and deal with their consequences. If you are personally responsible for your business – for example as a managing director or board member – we will advise and represent you in preventing and defending against accusations and in personal liability cases.

The correct approach to reporting breaches of obligations

Not least due to digital media, keywords such as whistleblowing, internal investigations and #metoo have come to be known worldwide in connection with people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Harvey Weinstein.
The accompanying movements raised awareness for sociopolitical issues and are now increasingly being used, also in Europe, as blueprints for dealing with unlawful states of affairs. In addition, there are regulatory measures that obligate businesses to examine possible statutory violations in their organizations.
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For Germany, the significance of the events that originated abroad will be illustrated by the EU Whistleblower Directive, which entered into effect on 16 December 2019. The Member States must enforce this directive within their national legislation by 17 December 2021. The directive aims to protect whistleblowers by ensuring that the identity of the whistleblower is treated confidentially and that sanctions are imposed for any breaches in conjunction with this, among other elements. This is aided by clear demarcation between the relevant investigative body and the company acting as the employer. Our expert team will develop tailored concepts together with you, along with works or service agreements for introducing a complaint management process, which is required in this regard, and for implementing whistleblower systems. Furthermore, our expert team acts as an external point of contact for you or can provide consultation services for your internal complaints center.

Defense against liability – protecting businesses and directors and officers

The liability risk for businesses and their management bodies is increasing. In the event of compliance violations, businesses must face penalties and financial losses. If a business suffers financial losses, existing compensation claims must be regularly enforced vis-à-vis the responsible persons.
In the event of mismanagement or violation of due diligence in a business, one of its directors or officers can therefore be obligated to compensate for damage incurred. Even if a liability insurance for corporate bodies against financial loss (directors and officers or D&O liability insurance) comes into effect fully or partially in this case, the director or officer faces a significant personal risk of liability due to the shifting burden of submitting arguments and evidence and burden of proof and/or a deductible (cf. Section 93 (2) of the German Stock Corporation Act, AktG, for example).
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With regard to the obligation to assure a functional compliance structure, companies are fundamentally required to pursue their compensation claims, including those against their (current or former) directors or officers. Our Compliance expert team advises you on whether and under which circumstances sanctions are to be levied against responsible persons and compensation claims are to be enforced in individual cases, and supports you in any resulting liability lawsuits. If you, as a corporate body, may be responsible for a potential statutory violation, or may be affected in any other way, we will analyze your legal position, including any possible liability risks, together with you and will defend you in any potential liability proceedings.

Protection against damages – the compliance management structure

Corporate governance by businesses and their management bodies has gained considerable importance in the past few years. A functional, tailored compliance management structure minimizes risks under civil and criminal law.
Before implementing an effective compliance management structure, a detailed individual risk analysis must be performed. Based on this analysis, we will determine and implement the organizational structures your business requires, as well as accompanying components such as an ethics guideline, a code of conduct, tailored employment agreements and complaint management, together with you. The implementation of new guidelines and rules of conduct will be supported by efficient staff training measures. What is more, compliant business practices can give your company a competitive edge, for example when contracts are awarded, particularly in multinational transactions.

Our experts, your contacts

  • T +49 221 22286 - 0
  • F +49 221 22286 - 400
  • Richmodstraße 8, D-50667 Cologne
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