"What do White Collar Crime lawyers do?"

Key Facts

White collar crime refers to financially motivated, non-violent crime that is committed by businesses, individuals and government professionals. 

Types of 'white collar crimes' include fraud, bribery, insider trading, tax fraud, concealment and money laundering (to name a few!). 

A part of a lawyer's role in white collar crime is to be strategic and come up with solutions for clients to resolve issues before charges are brought against them

It is a contentious area of law as the majority of a lawyer's time will be spent defending clients in investigations brought through civil and criminal litigation. 

A day in the life of a white collar crime lawyer

A lawyer that specialises in white collar crime will usually be instructed by a client (which can include businesses, government agencies and individuals) when that client intends to initiate an investigation because of proposed risk of a white collar crime or is the subject of an investigation initiated ​by an enforcement agency

Some cases may go trial so the typical tasks of a litigation lawyer will be undertaken by white collar crime lawyers such as building cases and preparing cases for trial. 

White collar crime lawyers tend to have around 15 to 20 live cases and each case is usually dealt with by a team so there's lots of team work involved. 

The work may involve travel if the crime involves an international agency or overseas lawyer. 

A white collar crime lawyer will be analytical and strategic as they will need to come up with practical solutions for clients to avoid liability. 

List of common white collar crimes

  • criminal company law

  • corporate fraud

  • bribery

  • influence peddling 

  • insider dealing

  • market abuse

  • criminal banking law

  • tax fraud

  • cartels and criminal competition law

  • consumer criminal law

  • cybercrime and computer fraud

  • concealment

  • money laundering

Fraud

Fraud is deceiving someone for monetary gain. Examples of fraud can include insider trading and securities fraud. 

The main fraud offences (in England and Wales) are set out in the Fraud Act 2006

The general fraud offence is set out in section 1 with three further sections setting out the ways of committing it: 

  • section 2: fraud by false representation

  • section 3: fraud by failure to disclose information where there was a legal duty to do so 

  • section 4: fraud by abuse of position 

The maximum penalty (on indictment) is up to 10 years in prison and/or fine (unlimited)

Bribery

Bribery refers to offering, giving or receiving something of value as a means of influencing the recipient's actions. 

The main bribery offences are set out in the Bribery Act 2010 and apply to both public and private sectors. The Act makes it an offence to offer, promise or give a financial or other advantage to another person intending that it:

  • induces the other person to perform a relevant function or activity improperly, or

  • rewards the other person for improperly performing such a function or activity. 

There are further offences including for officers or directors who consent to, or connive in, a bribery committed by a corporate entity. 

There is a specific offence of bribery of a foreign public official (section 6).

Insider dealing is criminalised in England and Wales pursuant to Part 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993

Under section 52 it is an offence for a person to:

  • deal in price affected securities when in possession of inside information 

  • encourage another to deal in price affected securities when in possession of inside information 

  • disclose inside information otherwise than in the proper performance of employment, office or professio

It is only an offence if the person holds inside information as an 'insider' (this essentially means that the person holding the information knows it is insider information and knows it is from an inside source). 

Insider dealing