Although corporate criminal law in the strict sense does not exist in Germany, legal persons are directly affected in commercial criminal law proceedings on a regular basis.
Irrespective of whether the company concerned is the victim of criminal conduct or whether criminal offenses were committed in its (alleged) interest, the ramifications of a commercial criminal proceeding can be substantial. The risk exists that searches of the premises, commercial damage such as, e.g. company fines, recovery of infringer's profits and damages as well as entry into the public register shall occur. Not to be underestimated is also the negative publicity which takes places when companies are publicised to be associated with criminal proceedings. Every criminal proceeding is certain to be declared by the press to be a "scandal". Loss of trust with customers, business partners and shareholders is the inevitable consequence.
The potential endangerment to a company's existence which is related to such proceedings requires that the respective risks be recognised, avoided or at least minimised.
However, it is often difficult even for the experienced company lawyer to recognise at the start of the proceeding whether the company is the victim of a criminal action or the proceeding has the object of an alleged action useful to the company. On the other hand, it is necessary precisely at this early stage to establish the position of the company vis-à-vis the investigation authorities.
Due to our many years of experience both in representation of companies as well as also the defence of individuals in commercial criminal matters, we are in a position to correctly assess factual situations at an early phase and the possible consequences in a reliable manner in order to then take effective action. The excellent reputation which we have acquired with the judicial authorities makes it possible for us to establish, even in concrete proceedings, a basis for communication between companies and the investigation authorities which guarantees an optimal strategic involvement in this procedure.
An additional important task of the company lawyer is providing support with the company internal investigations of commercial criminal acts and provision of advice with the decision concerning how to deal with the findings gained. In this context, it can be necessary to approach the investigation authorities in order to be able to guide an unavoidable criminal proceeding or to actively file a criminal complaint if the company is a victim of criminal offences.
Our clients benefit both from our comprehensive experience in company representation as well as individual defence not only in analysis but also in the further support of the company provided throughout the entire (possibly subsequent) criminal proceeding. The support we provide companies in criminal proceedings takes place always bearing in mind the civil law, tax law, public law and media-related aspects.
Short reaction times - for instance, in cases of searches - and the possibility of taking recourse to a network of suitable and experienced colleagues with the organisation and management of a collaborative defence action are just as much a matter of course for us as the high level of legal competence, commercial understanding and commitment during company representation.
Only in this way can the risk be controlled and the operative business of the company be successfully continued in spite of the burden of a criminal proceeding.