On 4 May 2017, the Law Society issued a new practice note on setting out guidance for legal advisers representing clients at interviews under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 (“the CJA”).
The practice note follows the publication by the Serious Fraud Office (“the SFO”) of revised operational guidance on the presence of an interviewee’s legal adviser at a section 2 interview, and is intended to inform legal advisers’ interactions with the SFO.
An individual has no right to legal representation during an SFO section 2 interview, but they can request the presence of a named lawyer in advance of the interview. That request will then be considered by the SFO. Traditionally, the SFO has generally been prepared to allow lawyers to attend interviews where the SFO believes it likely it will assist the purpose of the interview and/or investigation.
The new operational guidance issued by the SFO provides updated guidance on what the SFO will expect to see as part of a request to allow a lawyer to attend an interview. Crucially, the guidance seeks to have lawyers agree written undertakings in advance of the interview that will regulate the actions that can be taken by the lawyer on behalf of their client.
Concerned by the potential impact of the SFO guidance on the ability of lawyers to comply with their professional conduct obligations, the Law Society has issued the new practice note to highlight the types of issues to which the undertakings may give rise, if provided.
The practice note is essential reading for practitioners who appear (or may have a reason to be present) at section 2 interviews.
Click here to read the practice note.