Internal investigations - 6 tips on collecting documents during the COVID-19 pandemic
Conducting internal investigations during the pandemic presents a number of significant barriers. The processes used in the “old normal” may not be fit for purpose in the current stage of the crisis even though lockdown measures appear to be easing.
Collecting and reviewing documents and data is but one example. Continued restrictions on international travel and the inability (or unwillingness) of staff to access offices and storage facilities may affect a company’s ability to collect all relevant documents and data.
Here are 6 tips for running an effective data collection and review programme during the outbreak.
- Prepare prepare prepare – data mapping is crucial. This has always been a key mantra for any internal investigation - but given the complications around accessing documents it is imperative that a comprehensive custodian and data map is prepared outlining the location and recoverability of physical and electronic documents and data.
- Suspend all document destruction policies. Easier said than done currently! This requires a detailed consideration of the IT architecture that a company has. Engage with the in-house IT team or the outsourced IT provider urgently so that those with the relevant “key” can “lock” the data down. As for physical documents – do employees now have relevant documents at home
- Physical documents – consider creative ways to collate hard copy documents. With the lockdown easing, the ability to collate hard copy documents is admittedly becoming somewhat easier or at least possible. If they can be collated safely, give careful consideration to where the physical documents should be delivered. In the current circumstances that may not be a law firm’s offices. Consider whether it is necessary or cost-effective to digitise the data via scanning software given that the days of review teams being based in one central location is arguably many months away. Is there a secure hub nearer where reviewers live which they can access in a COVID-safe manner? If, however, collecting physical documents cannot be done safely, companies should carefully consider how to preserve and secure them so that they can be recovered at a later date.
- Electronic documents and data - speak to an IT forensics specialist as soon as possible and get them involved early in the data mapping process. This is one particular area where technology can be your friend. There are many ways in which IT forensic teams can help companies collate data in a remote way. This can range from the traditional attendance at offices to “image” data in person (albeit on a socially-distanced basis) to full forensic copying over the “pipes” of the relevant data.
- Personal devices – the need for robust IT policies. Hopefully the company under investigation has a robust IT policy which enables the company or its lawyers to demand the delivery of personal devices for imaging. In the lockdown, however, are employees using home PCs and other devices? Does the company’s IT policy entitle the company to demand access to these devices? What protections can be put in place to ensure that purely personal information – irrelevant to the company and the investigation – is either not collected or, at least, not reviewed.
- The miscreant’s data – an opportunity? The continued lockdown may present an opportunity. Where the investigation relates to a fraud or other misconduct by an employee, it may be easier to copy the suspect’s data from PCs and other devices which remain in the office. There may be no need for a surreptitious early morning office visit by IT forensics given that so many offices still, despite the limited easing of lockdown measures, effectively remain shut.
With a little ingenuity and creative thinking, and a lot of patience and preparation, the pandemic's barriers to an effective document collection can be overcome.
To find out more on how we can help you, please visit our Investigations page.
LIDW21: A view from London and India - How dispute avoidance can keep construction and infrastructure plans on track
Join us as we discuss the challenges of the possible rise in disputes in the construction and infrastructure sector in India
Danish tax authority loses "cum-ex" case: revenue rule reigns supreme
Hugh and Guy look at the recent decision in Skatteforvaltningen v Solo Capital Partners LLP (in special liquidation) and others
No “New Look” in the latest landlord challenge to a tenant CVA
Daniel and Hannah look at the impact of the recent New Look CVA judgment
The Lawyer, New Law Journal, International Adviser, CDR Magazine and eprivateclient report on the firm's partner promotions
Charles Russell Speechlys promoted five lawyers to partner, effective 1 May 2021.
Recent Trends In Firewall Legislation: BVI, Bermuda And Gibraltar
Charles Russell Speechlys promotes five to Partner
The promotions are effective 1 May 2021 and are accompanied by one Legal Director and 15 Senior Associate promotions.
ICC 2021 Rules
The ICC has recently updated its rules for arbitration: the new rules entered into force on 1 January 2021 (the “2021 Rules”).
The Lugano convention – the journey continues
The UK’s departure from the European Union has had the effect of leaving the UK outside of the Lugano Convention of 2007.
Adding claimants pre-service and amending outside the limitation period: pitfalls for the unwary
Sonia looks at a recent High Court judgment and its important guidance on the ability of claimants to be added to a claim before service
Joe Edwards, Simon Heatley and Lauren Kelly write for Practical Law on damages-based agreements
Law firms entering damages-based agreements face a catch-22.
Damages-based agreements: an island of clarity in changing seas
Simon, Joe and Lauren look at a recent judgment which is a welcome island of clarity in the damages-based agreement sea of uncertainty.
Patrick Gearon FCIArb
Insolvency Legislation in the GCC
The interesting times of the last 14 months were preceded by the interesting times of the financial crisis of 2008/2009.
Guidance where Domestic Abuse alleged
Rhys Novak quoted by Citywealth on the ways companies can combat potential issues of fraud
Is fraud on the rise and should investors be wary?
Bribery & Corruption team successfully act in Italian bribery prosecution
Helen Coward, Hugh Gunson and Guy Bud write for Tax Journal on remuneration arrangements in partnerships with mixed membership
Odey Asset Management LLP and HFFX LLP consider the law relating to remuneration arrangements in partnerships with mixed membership.
Mind the gap? Enforcing transition-period UK judgments in Switzerland revisited
A decision on an application to apply the Lugano Convention after the end of the UK’s transition period.
The rise of cost sanctions in family law proceedings (even against successful parties!)
CIS General Insurance Limited v IBM United Kingdom Limited - An analysis
Slow and chaotic – lessons from a digital transformation disaster in CIS General Insurance Limited v IBM United Kingdom Limited.
Stewart Hey featured in The Lawyer's reporting on the post-Brexit disputes landscape in the UK
Post-Brexit, the importance of making sure contracts have certainty with regards to jurisdiction and enforcement has never been greater.