Internal Investigation



Determine objectives

  • Truth seeking
  • Grant request for information,satisfying the authorities
  • Investigate possible leniency
  • Prepare defence
  • Recover damages / defence against claims
  • Punish offenders
  • Tighten up internal procedures


Determine scope

– Explicitly specify (initial) scope

– Within the scope, specify the:

  • Objectives
  • Budget
  • Available time
  • Available data (archiving system)
  • Burden on the internal organisation
  • Expectations of authorities


Securing data and data trail

  • Send retention warning documents
  • Select E-discovery tool
  • Ensure that all data that is available within the scope of the investigation is secured
  • Create a basis of data which can be used as a main source during the investigation (For uploading, use a system in which processing is possible)
  • Ensure that the investigation trail is available at any point during the procedure:
    – What data was gathered when, and when it was made available for review
    – What data is accessible to different custodians
    – What data is missing and why

The first phase of this step will be done by paralegals, while the second phase will be done by senior associates.


Identification of research material

  • Identify individuals (also think of individuals that are – or rather should be – “free of any suspicion”)
  • Identify low hanging fruit, for instance, emails instead of all data. Voice data is mer à boire
  • Reduce (further) by means of investigation period and search terms
  • Also think of structured data such as accounting, inventory management, contacts, etc.


Assessment and analysis

  • Reflect on the investigation’s objectives
  • Define testing framework and investigation standards
  • Agreements on the classification of information
  • Ensure a second reading
  • Safeguard independence and neutrality
  • Does this analysis give occasion for interviews / new investigation actions?



  • Source of information vs hearing both sides
  • Proportionality and investigation interest
  • Principle duty to cooperate vs being a good employer
  • Transparency about the position of the company vs employee:
    – Information supply to the authorities
    – Corporate counsel vs separate counsel
    – Possibility of disciplinary measures
  • Document results of interview


Drawing up a report

  • Determine the objective of the report
  • Determine the correct form of report:
    – Extensive written report (anonymous or not anonymous)
    – Brief written report
    – Only a written conclusion / finding
    – Only an oral report
  • Preservation of privilege
  • Circle of readers / listeners
  • Risk of self-incrimination, “creation” of liability


Formulating action items

What to do: next steps

The aim of this Solution is to give insight on the process of an internal investigation. Our firm can provide a multi-disciplinary team to handle all aspects of corporate crises, including boardroom counselling and securing emergency financing.

We are specialised in internal investigations. This is an important regulatory trend, and entails financial and competition supervisory authorities ordering outside counsel to investigate financial institutions and large corporates for alleged irregularities. In each investigation, we set up a multi-disciplinary team, leveraging our vast resources in corporate governance, litigation, compliance, regulatory enforcement and data protection laws.  For more information: please visit our Regulatory and Criminal Enforcement page on this website.

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