It is not enough for law firms to look at companies’ issues from a purely legal standpoint, they have to take a wider view of both the cause and effect of the way they conduct their business activities, says Javier Menor, Co-Managing Partner in Cataluña of Deloitte Abogados y Asesores Tributarios.
“Our approach is not typical of that taken by law firms in Barcelona or elsewhere in Spain, but the goal is to take a more holistic approach to companies’ needs; to look at issues from the legal, regulatory and commercial perspective.”
Indicative of this is the firm’s “Corporate Defence” programme, he says. Recent amendments to the Spanish Penal Code have, for the first time, brought the possibility of criminal sanctions against companies, which combined with the liabilities that already exist for company directors, have raised further compliance concerns as regards corporate governance.Los despachos ya no pueden analizar los problemas de sus clientes desde un punto de vista estrictamente legal; tienen que adoptar una perspectiva más empresarial, según Javier Menor, Socio Director de la oficina de Barcelona de Deloitte Abogados.
“We have learnt a lot from the way our peers within Deloitte look at companies’ financial or auditing needs. Especially when it comes to criminal behaviour, tackling the issue after the event is always too late. The intention must always be to offer pre-emptive advice and to address issues before they become legal problems.”
This means more than implementing “tick-box” compliance programmes. “You have to understand the way in which the company operates, the checks and balances already in place, and even the business culture itself. On the face of it, little of this is pure ‘law’.”
His team spent much of the past year talking to clients about the potential impact of the reforms, and now they are in place, they are exploring what the next regulatory outcomes may be.
“The threat of criminal sanctions, fines and the reputational damage a conviction may bring all act as strong incentives to promote better governance and our mandate is to help make sure this happens,” concludes Menor.