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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance
Expertise & Experience

Expertise & Experience

In this section

The political, regulatory and legal environment is creating more business challenges than ever, such as the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

These changes can have profound impacts on businesses operating environments and commercial decisions and managing them effectively is critical for business success. We can help you to engage in the political and law making process to ensure that the needs of your business are understood and supported.

Our public policy practice is unique in having a network of lawyers in London, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and Washington D.C. with an in-depth understanding of the political process and of how government institutions work, think and act. It works closely with our regulatory and trade groups in particular to give comprehensive advice to help you to develop appropriate commercial strategies, informed by the practical implementation insights of our global corporate and finance practices.

We play an active role in shaping public policy debates that affect our clients. Our experts are regularly asked to advise policy makers, and we are partners of the World Economic Forum as well as active members of industry associations such as the Confederation of British Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce. More broadly, we provide intellectual, financial and legal support for policy-influencing think tanks such as Bruegel, Chatham House, the Centre for European Policy Studies and Policy Exchange to name a few.

Legislative Process & Drafting

The public policy practice regularly advises on the process of EU and UK legislation, including the choice of procedure, the timing of legislation and the Parliamentary stages as well as on the institutions and how they operate. Understanding it is crucial to influencing emerging legislation.

Procedural and vires issues are particularly relevant when considering subordinate legislation, which is vulnerable to judicial review.

Our public policy lawyers have drafted UK Private Members' Bills, as well as amendments to be tabled to government Bills along with Speaking Notes and Explanatory Notes and amendments to proposed EU legislation.

European Union Internal Market Issues

The Internal Market of the EU is the largest global free market encompassing over 500 million people generating around £11 trillion worth of economic activity. It provides for the free movement of goods, services, people and capital.

If you are based in the EU you should in theory be able to market your products anywhere else in the EU. It is often however not that simple - barriers and restrictions still persist and the public policy team can advise on how to most effectively take advantage of the Internal Market.

European Union infringement proceedings

The public policy practice advises on infringement proceedings against EU Member States. 

The European Commission monitors the compliance of the 28 EU Member States with EU law. If it considers that a country has not fulfilled its obligations, for example because of incorrect, incomplete or late transposition of EU legislation, it can take action against that country. Ultimately, these proceedings can culminate in the Commission bringing the matter before the Court of Justice.

Anyone may lodge a complaint with the Commission against a Member State about any EU measure (law, regulation or administrative action) or practice which is considered incompatible with EU law. We advise clients on the process for submitting a complaint, as well as on what action to take with respect to complaints that have been submitted by others. 

Political intelligence and monitoring

Having the right information at the right time goes to the heart of any effective political advocacy campaign, assists in the development of business strategy and risk assessment.

Being in the best possible position to shape policy-making demands an awareness of regulatory developments at the earliest stage, before irreversible decisions have been taken.

We provide electronic monitoring services tailored to your needs. We produce a number of online alert services and weekly email political updates. Regular client briefings on EU institutional developments ensure you are kept up-to-date with the very latest information and analysis.

Through our engagement with key think tanks and the policy events that are organised and hosted by the firm we provide opportunities for more informal intelligence gathering and dialogue.

Select Committee training

In the UK, Select Committees are increasingly vocal on a range of topical issues. 

The Treasury and Public Accounts Committees for example have recently held high profile inquiries into private equity, financial stability and transparency and phone hacking.

The public policy practice has assisted a number of clients in understanding the process and the legal powers of Committees, in preparing for an appearance before a Committee, and in making written submissions. 

Public consultations and policy papers

Public consultations and policy papers lie at the heart of public policy work and provide vital opportunities for organisations to provide input into the policy process. The public policy practice assists clients in preparing responses to consultations and in alerting clients to the implications of government proposals.

The combination of legal and policy expertise ensures that the responses are targeted, informed and effective. Public policy lawyers have recently drafted a UK government consultation exercise (at the request of officials) along with a draft Bill. The public policy practice can also advise on the legal aspects of consultations, including possible legal challenges and statutory requirements.

The public policy practice plays a key role in coordinating submissions made by Clifford Chance on a range of issues of relevance to the firm as a significant global business in its own right.

Clifford Chance also regularly submits comments to UK and European Commission consultations in a variety of areas, including financial services, competition law, contract law and others.

The firm is also actively engaged in raising the profile of legal services in multilateral trade negotiations, and in identifying the difficulties faced by large international firms in practising in a number of jurisdictions. 

Public inquiries

Clifford Chance is recognised as being a leader in public policy, administrative law and regulation. Our team draws on these disciplines to provide expert advice on holding and taking part in inquiries and investigations.

We advise businesses which are subject to or have an interest in an inquiry. We advise on the appointment of government inspectors or the chairmen of an inquiry or investigation.

The issues raised tend to be high profile and complex, yet also sensitive with public interest considerations. We focus on understanding the environment within which you operate and secure a process which is fair, reasonable and proportionate.

If you are a public body, you need individuals with recognised experience of leading inquiries, with access to independent and well-resourced support services. If you are a commercial organisation, you require a team which can move quickly to identify and secure your rights.

Political donations law

The public policy practice has advised political parties, commercial organisations, individuals and charities on the UK's complex legislation on political donations.

We were closely involved with aspects of the Political Parties and Elections Bill, advising on a range of issues.

Key areas of advice include:

  • Corporate requirements, including the requirements of the Companies Act 2006;
  • Provisions in corporate compliance programmes on political involvement; and
  • Engagement by charitable organisations in the political process. 

Corruption and standards of public conduct law

The UK Bribery Act 2010 has radically transformed the UK law on corruption, introducing a fundamentally different concept of bribery, a new strict liability for corporates, and a 'no-fault' foreign bribery offence. It has a significant impact on foreign companies who do business in the UK. It goes beyond the requirements of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in prohibiting private sector bribery as well as bribery of foreign public officials.

We advise on a range of related issues globally, including facilitation payments, the presumption of guilt and human rights, corruption in public procurement processes, relations with intermediaries, gifts and hospitality to public officials, contracts with Members of Parliament, the effect of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials, the appointment of ex-government officials and ex-elected representatives to private sector organisations, rules for lobbyists and political donations. We work closely with regulatory lawyers expert in advising on compliance with financial services requirements. With Clifford Chance's unrivalled global reach, we are able to provide coordinated advice on corporate policies for organisations operating in a global market.

We were closely involved in the policy processes leading up to the passing of the Bribery Act – we met with the Law Commission when it was formulating the draft Bill, submitted evidence to the Joint Parliamentary Committee, participated in CBI Working Group on the Bribery Bill and contributed to the ICC submission on the Bill.

Freedom of information law

The public policy practice has been advising on freedom of information issues for many years, both on how to access information, and on how to keep information confidential. 

The UK Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force in 2005, introducing a new statutory right to publicly held information.

Individuals and businesses now, potentially, have access to a vast range of information collected or created by the private sector. Lawyers in the public policy practice have been active in assisting clients to make requests, in advising clients how best to protect information they have provided to government from being disclosed, and in drawing up and advising on internal mechanisms to deal with the requirements of the legislation both for the public and the private sector.

We also advise public sector clients in dealing with FOI requests and assist in presenting legal arguments to the Information Commissioner's Office and to the Information Tribunal.

At the EU level, we are seeing an increase in the number of requests submitted to the EU institutions for access to documents. The requests relate to internal documents of the European Commission for example, but also the correspondence between the institutions and third parties.