How to conduct an internal investigation
Produced in partnership with Caroline Black and Noel Power of Dechert LLP
How to conduct an internal investigation

The following Risk & Compliance guidance note Produced in partnership with Caroline Black and Noel Power of Dechert LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How to conduct an internal investigation
  • Who should conduct the investigation?
  • How to approach internal and external communications
  • The investigation process
  • Employment issues
  • Preparing a report of the investigation
  • Ensuring lessons are learned from the investigation

An internal investigation is a legal process undertaken by an organisation (with or without outside counsel) to review and identify facts relating to a specific allegation, concern or misconduct and remediate potential irregularities.

Common scenarios that may trigger an investigation include:

  1. an individual raising a concern internally via a whistleblowing hotline or otherwise (whistleblower)

  2. a response to a regulatory or criminal agency demand

  3. part of due diligence in advance of a merger or acquisition

  4. a civil litigation claim

  5. an internal or external auditor’s report

  6. media reports

  7. an external allegation, eg from a customer or counter-party

Who should conduct the investigation?

The organisation’s general counsel should decide on how best to conduct of the investigation although they may establish a special committee comprising members of the board of directors or the audit committee.

In-house legal, compliance and audit

Having internal advisors leading the investigation ensures the investigation team includes individuals who are familiar with the organisation and, hopefully, have a good relationship with the employees. While the legal team can conduct the investigation itself, an internal investigations can be time-consuming and therefore, it may be preferable to appoint specialist external legal advisors to assist with resourcing, as well as bringing experience and expertise.

Privilege applies to advice given by external lawyers and also to in-house lawyers provided that they act in their capacity as