New legal powers will be a vital weapon against cartels:
As a criminal defence solicitor I must recognise the common good is served by the effective prosecution of offenders. Cartels are a compenent, often of a monoply in action often, in huge commercial sectors in the economy and in times of austerity the the importance of stamping out such practices is to be welcomed.
The trend of the fromer Court of Criminal Appeal (now the Court of Appeal) is for white collar sentences to result in imprisonment if dealt with at Judge and Jury level. The case of the garlic importer Paul Begley last year is an insight into sentencing rationale. That was a tax proseuction with loss of revenue at it’s heart.
Not to spoil the party, as a defence solicitor the question arises in the Hegarty case why 11 years to bring home the bacon? I am not aware if any action was taken to prohibit this case but a delay of 11 years appears to be excessive if one looks at other areas of crime where such delay has occurred. The European Court of Human Rights has looked at such issues in the case of McFarlane. Our own Superior Courts have also stepped into halt cases of excessive systemic prosecutorial delay, lost evidence or lost witnesses while also looking at an Accuseds’ conduct in the calculation of delay.
Whistleblowers being added to the mix are a new compnent in a sense, but they have in all reality always been there, “accomplice evidence” is nothing new. Whistleblowers are important but the prosecution also now have manadatory tipping off on directors and officers, employees of undertakings in white collar crime Post Anglo.
Where does it all lead? If resources are their there will be cases and successful companies need to recognise that they dont just need commercial/corpoate risk advice.
It remains to be seen if this type of work will kick off.
The views expressed here are my own and do not constitute legal advice.