Andrew Kerrigan, Business Crime and Regulatory Solicitor of Sills & Betteridge explains the 6 steps towards better crisis management
In this article I explore how to respond to an accident or incident which could lead to prosecution. There is no shortage of authorities with powers to conduct investigations and even if your business has a clean record you could find yourself under scrutiny at any time.
Step 1 – Understand how your Solicitor can assist
In a crisis, one of the first calls you should be making is to your Solicitor and here is why:
Our experience gives us a birds eye view of how your actions before, during and after the crisis will determine the outcome for you and your business during the course of any investigation and subsequent court proceedings.
We are available to provide immediate advice to help you make the right choices from the outset– you don’t have to wait for our office to open.
No other professional or adviser to your business has the reach that your Solicitor has during a crisis – we will be physically by your side during any external investigation, internal investigation, preparing written submissions to authorities, attending interviews, inquests, tribunals and court hearings.
Step 2 – Make a plan
Whether your business has crisis management experience or not it is beneficial to prepare a plan on how to take control and manage a crisis. Any plan needs to be shared throughout the business and periodically revised. It may also be worth considering a training exercise to stress test your preparedness to deal with a crisis.
Step 3 – Identify who will take control
An element of the planning exercise should identify one or more staff to take the lead in a crisis. There are various tasks to be co-ordinated and clear leadership and lines of communication will help manage the situation and minimise the on going risk to the business.
Step 4 – Manage the internal investigation
Whether the business finds itself dealing with a full blown crisis or a near miss an internal investigation is necessary to identify the root cause of the accident or incident so it can be addressed to avoid future repetition.
The HSE provide helpful guidance on how to undertake accident investigation. As your internal investigation is disclosable to outside authorities there are some circumstance when we as Solicitors can instruct elements of the investigation to be undertaken under legal privilege.
Step 5 – Prepare for external investigators
It can be stressful to find yourself or your business subject to external investigation. Planning for such interventions and understanding the extent of the investigators powers and the methods they adopt can help to lessen the stress.
My number one tip for dealing with external investigators is to always treat them with respect and co-operation no matter how aggressive or pushy you may perceive the intervention. Often an ill tempered exchange with an investigator can cast a shadow over the entire process.
Step 6 – Learn lessons
If your internal and the external investigation identify that the business or individuals within it are at fault it is necessary that you can demonstrate that lessons have been learned. Where an external investigation results in a public inquiry or prosecution it may be expected that you can demonstrate you have learned lessons and made improvements. This may also reduce any penalty imposed.
Andrew Kerrigan is available at any time on 07387 108720, firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his regular LinkedIn posts