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BIS Investigations

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Our BIS defence lawyers have years of experience of defending a variety of criminal prosecutions bought by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), who bring a substantial number of criminal prosecutions each year. Unlike the Police, the BIS does not have powers of arrest. However, during criminal investigations they can invite the subjects of those investigations to attend a formal interview under caution.

Should you ever be invited to attend an interview under caution with the BIS, you should seek specialist legal advice from us before deciding on whether to attend the proposed interview. There is no compulsion to attend and advice can be provided regarding the advantages and disadvantages of being at an interview, depending on your specific circumstances.

A BIS investigation may be conducted for a variety of criminal offences, the four most common of which are:

Fraudulent Trading

The offence of Fraudulent Trading is the carrying on of any business or company, with the intent to defraud creditors or for any fraudulent purpose. Every individual who was knowingly a party to the carrying on of the business in such a manner is guilty of fraudulent trading.

Frequently senior employees and company directors are charged with Fraudulent Trading. To secure a conviction, the Prosecution must prove that the individual acted dishonestly. This can include those that chose to ‘turn a blind eye’, where they have a firmly grounded suspicion that relevant facts exist and made a deliberate decision to avoid confirming their suspicions.

This is an offence which is capable of being heard in the Magistrates Court, however, most people charged with this offence have their cases heard in the Crown Court, due to the serious nature of the crime. A conviction for Fraudulent Trading carries a high risk of a custodial sentence; usually followed by confiscation proceedings. We’ll always give you the best advice specific to your circumstances.

Undischarged Bankruptcy Offences

It is a criminal offence for an undischarged bankrupt to act as a company director, or to either directly or indirectly be concerned in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without prior permission from a Court.

A conviction for this offence carries a risk of a custodial sentence for a maximum of two years. However, it can be a question of interpretation whether specific actions and roles within a company are prohibited by this offence. Our BIS investigation defence solicitors will give you advice on your appropriate plea. Where necessary, skilled mitigation can be put before the Court and can often result in non-custodial sanctions.

Breach of a Disqualification Order Offences

It is a criminal offence if an individual has been disqualified from acting as a company director for a specific period of time but then breaches such an order.

A conviction for this offence carries a risk of a custodial sentence for a maximum of two years. It is sometimes a question of interpretation of whether the defendant’s actions amount to a breach of the disqualification order, which our specialist BIS investigation lawyers can advise on, where necessary, we can present the Court with appropriate mitigation and the Court can often award a non-custodial sentence, especially in circumstances where there are no previous convictions for the same offence.

Failure to keep accounting records

Every limited company has a legal obligation to keep accounting records that illustrate the company’s transactions.

If a company fails to comply with this requirement, every officer of the business which is in default is guilty of the offence, unless they can show that they acted honestly and that in the circumstances in which the company’s business was carried on, the default was excusable. Our BIS lawyers can give specialist advice to anyone charged with failing to keep these records.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have a problem in relation to an investigation or prosecution by BIS, or if you would simply like to discuss these issues with one of our solicitors in strict confidence and without obligation:

  • Request a free call back using the form on the right
  • Phone us during office hours on 0845 216 2000
  • Email us at help@richardnelsonllp.co.uk.

Who Can Help You?

Jonathan Wright

Partner

Mark Wilson, Partner at Richard Nelson LLP

Mark Wilson

Partner

Jacqui Callan, solicitor advocate at Richard Nelson LLP

Jacqui Callan

Associate

Richard Etherington

Solicitor

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What we do...

We can provide you with expert specialist legal advice if you:

• have been invited to attend an interview under caution by BIS;
• are aware that BIS are investigating you and/or your business;
• have received a summons requiring you to attend Court in connection with a BIS Prosecution.

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