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Inquiries and compliance

When there is a possibility that an organisation may be involved in wrongdoing of any nature, tough decisions must be made quickly, generally under time constraints and based upon limited knowledge of the facts. Modern corporate governance and risk management requires that matters be resolved effectively, should irregularities be discovered. Many experience that the legal, financial, ethical, personnel and reputational considerations being pulled in various directions, thus resulting in the relations between those involved, and between the board and management, to become severely strained.

Hjort’s lawyers have assisted businesses in the private and public sector with independent investigations, management of whistle-blowing cases, and the prevention and management of crisis situations.

Interdisciplinary basis for crisis prevention and management

For many years, Hjort has helped businesses in the public and private sectors to prevent and manage crisis situations. Norwegian and international regulations are constantly evolving. Hjort has a unique combination of strong expertise in the fields of commercial and administrative law, dispute resolution, and a substantial criminal law practice, defending both companies and private individuals. This interdisciplinary expertise strengthens our ability to assess a company’s risk exposure and need for preventive measures. At the same time, it provides a solid foundation for providing advice on matters relating to emergency preparedness and crisis management strategies that address the needs of the market, the workforce, the authorities, the general public and the prosecution authority.

Lawyers with criminal law and dispute resolution experience

Many of Hjort’s lawyers have considerable experience as defence counsel for businesses under investigation, including extensive experience from their employment at the prosecution authority. This experience provides our lawyers with first-hand knowledge of which details are important and relevant when specific cases are to be assessed by public prosecutors or in the courts. As a result, we have knowledge as to what businesses must do in order to avoid censure and criminal liability

Lawyers with board and leadership experience 

Several of Hjort’s partners have served extensively on company boards and held senior management positions, government appointments, as well as considerable media relations experience. We believe that this gives us a greater understanding of the issues, as well as insight into the way in which legal processes must be combined with the need to maintain business operations and restore confidence in the company, both internally and externally.

Crime Prevention in the business context

When assessing whether a company should be prosecuted for criminal acts carried out in its operations, great emphasis is placed on what the company has done to avoid the law being broken. All types of enterprises are facing stricter and stricter requirements to have implemented effective measures to ensure it operates in compliance with the law.

In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the importance of effective measures to combat corruption. For Norwegian companies with operations abroad, application of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the UK Bribery Act are of particular importance in this context.

Both Norwegian and international legislation regarding corporate penalties underline the fact that effective preventive measures must be tailored to the specific risks facing the entity concerned (a risk-based approach). Measures must have the firm support of the company’s senior management team, and they must contain easily understood rules covering the prevention, discovery, reporting and follow-up of incidents occurring at the operational level. Furthermore, the measures must ensure that the rules are actually complied with, and that efforts are made to maintain awareness of them throughout the organisation.

Hjort’s lawyers have the expertise required to evaluate, establish, develop, quality assure and update effective preventive measures for a variety of businesses, in particular, effective measures against corruption. We will put together a team of lawyers with special experience of the risk areas facing your particular business. Our objective is to help ensure that such preventive measures are seen by management and employees at your company as being relevant and realistic to implement, and that they constitute an effective and robust bulwark in the event of any subsequent assessment by prosecuting authorities or courts.

 

Investigations

In the event of any suspicion of non-compliance with the law, the company’s management must implement adequate measures to find out what has happened.

The scope and performance of such investigations must be tailored to the specific situation, and must rest on a mandate from the company’s board of directors. Necessary conflicts of interest must be clarified and the interests of those concerned must be safeguarded. Communication with the authorities and the market must be handled carefully. Managing such situations is challenging, and both management and the workforce can find the situation disturbing.

Hjort has created their own guidelines for independent investigations, that are easily applicable for standard assignments. We offer “state of the art” IT-solutions for information colloborations and secure communication to ensure the necessary level of confidentiality that such situations normally require.

Hjort has considerable experience of helping companies involved in such difficult circumstances. Throughout the years we have assisted private and public authorities with investigations of whistle-blowing in correlation with the Working Environment act, violation of safety regulations and HSE legislation, suspicion of financial crime and culpable matters committed by the company’s management or employees. We also assist employees and management who have been notified or suspected. Our assignments range from minor investigations in companies, municipalities and foundations, to large and high profile inquiries, such as the investigation on behalf of DNB’s Board in the so-called “Panama Papers Case.”

Our lawyers are actively involved in the development of the investigation practice area, and Hjort’s partner Kristian Brandt is a member of the Norwegian Bar Association’s committee that will compile new guidelines for private investigations.