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Clifford Chance
News and awards

News and awards

6 December 2022


A US Litigation & Dispute Resolution team has won the "Most Important Court Case of the Year" Award at the 2022 GIR Awards in Washington, DC for their successful and precedent-setting defense of UK businessman Lawrence Hoskins.

The case has a long and complicated history and spanned more than 8.5 years. It involved alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against Mr. Hoskins, in connection with the construction of a power plant in Indonesia dating back to the early 2000s. Mr. Hoskins is a British citizen who, at that time, worked in Paris, France for the industrial conglomerate Alstom. Notably, Mr. Hoskins never came to the United States at any time during his brief employment at Alstom and was shocked when he was arrested while on vacation in the US Virgin Islands—ten years after resigning from Alstom—on criminal charges pending in Connecticut.

From the outset of the defense, the Clifford Chance team recognized that the US Department of Justice (the DOJ) was attempting to unfairly expand the extraterritorial reach of the FCPA to prosecute a UK citizen for conduct that occurred entirely outside the US. The team thus embarked upon a strategy to defend the case centered on legal challenges to the DOJ's expansive view of its authority to enforce the FCPA. Along the way, the New York-based team won several landmark rulings—including two significant appellate wins in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (one in 2018 and one in 2022)—and ultimately obtained the complete acquittal of Mr. Hoskins on all FCPA charges. In tandem, these decisions significantly limit the reach of the FCPA with respect to non-US persons and companies and will have important implications for future FCPA enforcement.

Just days before the team was awarded the "Most Important Case of the Year" distinction by GIR, on November 14, 2022, the DOJ decided to cut its losses and declined to seek any further review of Hoskins' acquittal, effectively ending this epic saga.

Partner Chris Morvillo commented, "To achieve a result like this requires stars to align in rare form: the right facts, the right law, the right judge and the right client. Yet none of those elements matter without the right team and I could not possibly be prouder than to be associated with Team Hoskins."

The core Clifford Chance Hoskins team comprised partners Chris Morvillo, Daniel Silver and Celeste Koeleveld and associates Carlisle Overbey, Benjamin Peacock, and Brian Yin. The wider team included contributions from more than 75 former and current Clifford Chance colleagues since the beginning of the case in April 2014.

Clifford Chance was also ranked tenth in the GIR Top 30 law firms for complex multijurisdictional corporate investigations at the GIR Awards. Additionally, GIR shortlisted Chris Morvillo for the "Investigations Practitioner of the Year" award, and the wider global investigations group for the "Investigations Practice of the Year" award. Full coverage of the awards can be found here.