BCL Solicitors LLP are delighted to be named in the Global Investigations Review (GIR) top 100 investigations firms 2022– a guide to the world's leading firms for corporate investigations.
The GIR 100 is an annual guide to the world's leading cross-border investigations practices. Based on extensive research, they have selected 100 firms from around the world able to handle sophisticated cross-border government-led and internal investigations.
Here is the GIR 100 profile for BCL Solicitors:
BCL maintains its position as one of London's leading business crime defence boutiques and boasted a significant expansion of its partnership in 2022.
BCL Solicitors is one of a few niche UK criminal defence firms that specialise in defending companies and individuals in criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. Twelve of the firm's 16 partners focus on corporate criminal investigations and related matters. BCL has had a role in many of the SFO's biggest investigations in recent years, representing executives in the agency's probes targeting Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Barclays and Unaoil.
BCL was founded by Ian Burton, a seasoned criminal defence specialist listed in Who's Who Legal: Investigations and Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. As senior partner, he has been involved in some of the most significant business crime investigations and prosecutions brought by the UK authorities over the past two decades.
Another name to know is partner Michael Drury, who was formerly the director for legal affairs at GCHQ, the UK's intelligence and security organisation.
Richard Sallybanks, another long-standing partner at the firm, has acted for individuals in various recent SFO probes including those targeting oil services company Petrofac, aerospace company Airbus and UK lender Barclays.
Drury and Sallybanks are also listed in Who's Who Legal: Investigations alongside partners Harry Travers and Shula de Jersey. Sallybanks, Travers, de Jersey and Shaul Brazil are also listed in Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence.
The firm has had a stable practice in recent years with few senior hires or departures, although Jane Glass also retired from the partnership in April 2022 having been with BCL and its predecessor firms for over 30 years – 25 of them as a partner. Most of BCL's recent additions to its partnership have been internal promotions. In September it announced the promotion of three new partners in its business crime and regulation team: Anoushka Warlow, Tom McNeill and Oliver Schneider-Sikorsky.
BCL clients typically are individuals facing high-stakes criminal investigations in the UK or abroad, although the vast majority of the firm's instructions are confidential. The firm is representing executives in a significant number of the SFO's largest ongoing investigations.
GIR reported in September 2022 that BCL is acting as UK counsel to Russian nationals Alisher Usmanov and Gulbakhor Ismailova in connection with Europe-wide investigations into alleged sanctions violations following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The firm also handles numerous cross-border investigations for corporate clients.
GIR has previously reported BCL's representation of executives caught up in SFO investigations. Among these are senior individuals from Tesco, GSK, Rolls-Royce, BAT and Airbus. In addition, the firm regularly assists clients in extradition proceedings.
The firm has a strong record of helping its clients secure acquittals in fraud and corruption trials. Sallybanks secured an acquittal for Tesco's former food commercial director John Scouler in 2018 after a judge ruled that prosecutor's evidence against him was too weak. Scouler was charged alongside two other former executives in 2016, both of whom were also acquitted.
In another case, Brazil represented John Dougall, a former vice president at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy, in a Greek bribery investigation. Dougall was acquitted of fraud and money laundering in July 2019 because he had already been convicted of bribery in the UK on the same facts.
Many of BCL's clients have avoided charges altogether in SFO probes. Sallybanks acted for Barclays' former general counsel, Mark Harding, in connection with an SFO investigation into the bank's fundraising efforts in Qatar. Harding was not charged in the investigation. The SFO charged four other former Barclays executives in the matter, who were all acquitted in 2020.
BCL also acted for an individual who was interviewed under caution in an investigation by the SFO into ICBC Standard Bank over bribery and corruption in Africa. ICBC Standard Bank agreed to pay £33 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent bribery in the UK's first-ever deferred prosecution agreement.
The firm also has a history of acting for corporates. BCL has previously advised Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura Beheer in response to multiple global investigations and proceedings arising from a toxic waste dump in the Ivory Coast.
The firm represented Monaco oil consultancy Unaoil, alongside several other firms, in connection with a sprawling investigation into the consultancy and various oil services and engineering companies that relied on it. The SFO discontinued its investigation into Unaoil in June 2019 without charging the company.
GIR's guide to the world's top 100 corporate investigation firms can be found here.