Internal Investigations

Internal Investigations

Lawyer for Internal Investigations

We support you in the confidential internal investigation of suspected criminal offences in your company. This ranges from legally analysing the allegations to supporting the lawful execution of investigative measures. In addition, we support you in interviewing employees, legally categorising the results of investigations and the implementation of the legally necessary measures.
Bei internen Untersuchungen führen wir Befragungen von Mitarbeitern und Dokumentenprüfungen durch, um Verdachtsfall aufzuklären

Internal Investigations to clarify possible legal offences are becoming increasingly important. We are at your side in all legal matters when it comes to conducting discreet Internal Investigations in connection with possible criminal offences in your organisation.

Careful clarification is essential

Cases of suspicion of potential criminal offenses must be taken seriously and investigated diligently. The economic existence of companies can be at stake if criminal offences are suspected within their own ranks. A thorough investigation of incidents is essential from a liability law perspective, regardless of whether the company is the victim of the criminal offence or the offence can be attributed to the company itself in terms of the association’s responsibility.

In complex cases or sensitive accusations, companies and public institutions often call on specialised experts to support them in their Internal Investigations. In addition to law firms, auditing companies are sometimes also involved. Lawyers and auditors can work as a team to efficiently process the incidents and complement each other in their work.

Legal support for Internal Investigations as the key to avoiding liability

The assessment of criminal allegations requires in-depth knowledge of Commercial Criminal Law and Corporate Criminal Law. When selecting the investigation methods and conducting the Internal Investigation, numerous other legal requirements must be observed in addition to criminal law, including corporate, civil, labor and data protection law. Within the scope of application of the Whistleblower Protection Act (HSchG), special provisions must also be taken into account, which may supersede general provisions.

When engaging a lawyer to assist with the Internal Investigation, the company benefits above all from the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality and the strict confidentiality provisions. The lawyer examines the allegations independently and objectively. In addition, correspondence with the lawyer and the lawyer’s work products are legally protected from access by the state (keyword: prohibition of seizure and confiscation).

Your experienced lawyer for internal investigations

Dr. Elias Schönborn has extensive expertise in the legal support of Internal Investigations. In addition to his specialisation in criminal law, he is particularly proficient in the cross-sectional matter of the Internal Investigation of potential compliance violations and is a certified Compliance and Whistleblowing Officer. Dr. Schönborn is a recognised specialist author and regular speaker on this subject.

Our services at a glance:

  • Initial Legal Analysis of suspicious circumstances and reporting obligations
  • Development of a roadmap for necessary investigation steps
  • Legal Support of an Internal Investigation
  • Checking the legal admissibility of securing and viewing documents and data 
  • Legal Support for auditors and data forensics experts in Internal Investigations
  • Advice on the usability of investigation results in state proceedings
  • Analysis of secured information from a legal perspective
  • Support in employee interviews
  • Legal Opinions on Internal Investigations
  • Recommendations for action on Compliance Adjustments
  • Assistance with legal steps such as filing a criminal complaint or asserting Claims for Damages (private participation)
  • Advice and representation in the event of the initiation of criminal proceedings and coordination of a parallel Internal Investigation in the course of Criminal Defense
  • Measures taken in the course of Compliance Defense during an ongoing Internal Investigation

FAQ

  • 1. Under which circumstances are companies obliged to conduct an Internal Investigation?

    The Whistleblower Protection Act (HSchG) stipulates procedures for internal reports and the determination of follow-up measures, including the review of the tip. Irrespective of the scope of application of the HSchG, the general duty of care of managing directors of a limited liability company (GmbH) includes the duty to clarify facts in the event of suspicion of a criminal or unlawful act. This also applies to members of the management board of a stock company (AG). The supervisory board as a controlling body may also have a duty to clarify suspicious facts. A breach of this duty to act can lead to liability. Conducting an Internal Investigation is therefore also in the interests of the company management, as it has a potential liability-avoiding effect and can provide evidence that the management bodies have acted with the diligence of a prudent manager and complied with the Business Judgement Rule.
  • 2. Why is it advisable to have a lawyer present during employee interviews?

    In addition to reviewing relevant documents, employee interviews are the most important steps in an Internal Investigation. The assessment of suspected cases often involves legal issues. Only lawyers are in a position to take into account the sometimes complex legal considerations in an interview situation and to ask appropriately accurate questions about the facts of the case. It is therefore advisable to involve a legal expert already in the preparation of the questions and also during the employee interview.
  • 3. What criminal law aspects need to be considered in an Internal Investigation?

    The company carrying out an Internal Investigation or having one carried out must take the following criminal offences in particular into account when securing documents: breach of privacy of letters and suppression of documents (Section 118 StGB), unlawful use of a computer system (Section 118a StGB), breach of telecommunication confidentiality (Section 119 StGB), improper interception of data (Section 119a StGB), improper use of audio recording and listening devices (Section 120 StGB). The offences of coercion (Section 105 StGB) and unauthorized assumption of authority (Section 314 StGB) must also be taken into account.
  • 4. What points does a Legal Opinion after an Internal Investigation typically contain?

    The investigation report following the conclusion of an Internal Investigation usually contains the most important findings of the Internal Investigation at factual level. This often gives rise to numerous legal follow-up questions, such as the following: What criminal law consequences may arise for the company and the suspects? How can claims for damages be asserted? Am I obliged to report the matter to an authority? What adjustments need to be made to the Compliance Management System? These and many other questions can be answered as part of a Legal Opinion following the conclusion of an Internal Investigation.

Do you need support with an Internal Investigation?

Contact us.