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Tamlyn EdmondsDirector/Barrister

Managing partner Tamlyn Edmonds explains how Edmonds Marshall McMahon is adapting to clients' changing needs.

What do you see as the main points that differentiate Edmonds Marshall McMahon from your competitors?

Edmonds Marshall McMahon (EMM) set up in 2012 and was the first and is still the only law firm to specialise solely in private prosecutions and is the market leader in this area.  We differentiate ourselves from our competitors as all three partners in EMM are ex-senior public prosecutors, each having extensive experience prosecuting for most government departments.  We therefore have a vast array of expertise in prosecuting complex, serious fraud and are able to advise on all aspects of the prosecution process without having to revert to counsel or law enforcement for assistance.  We also have our own in-house advocacy team consisting of experienced barristers.

EMM prides itself on being a boutique firm with one specialist area; this enables clients to receive focused advice in a timely and efficient way.  We are very different from our competitors in that we are often instructed by other firms to work alongside them where civil proceedings are afoot or contemplated, which can often be an effective strategic tool in the litigation process.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We foresee an increase in firms offering private prosecutions as this is an area that is rapidly expanding due to government cut backs for traditional law enforcement agencies and prosecuting authorities. In approximately 85% of our cases, our clients have tried to get the police or CPS interested in their case and have been turned away. The expansion of this area has been covered by all of the major UK newspapers in 2015. We are now seeing top-tier firms assembling in-house private prosecution divisions to offer the service to their existing clients who are becoming increasingly aware of this area. 
We also anticipate an increase in in-house investigation capacity for many firms in addition to an increase in early investigative input when assembling complex fraud cases for submission to law enforcement.
Another area we foresee an increase is that of submissions under the CPS Victims Right to Review Scheme. There appears to be a rise in the number of cases knocked back by the CPS and clients are looking to lawyers to assist in assembling and presenting the evidence to the CPS with a request to review the decision. 

What's the main change you've made in the firm that will benefit clients?

The establishment of our firm and the genesis of this area of law has benefited clients; previously no other such firm existed which offered clients the same services as EMM.  State criminal investigations and prosecution agencies have come under incredible resourcing pressures over the last few years, especially in financial crime investigations and prosecutions. Therefore, we look to fill this gap by helping victims of fraud who feel that not only have they been cheated by a fraudster, but that the system has let them down too.  In times where public resources are so meagre and justice is so difficult to obtain, we offer clients another avenue which is often far more focused and quicker than state prosecutions.
We have also adapted to the sudden increase in demand for preparing submissions to the CPS on behalf of clients under the Victims Right to Review scheme, caused in part by a decrease in the number of specialist fraud prosecutors and lack of public sector appetite to pursue difficult cases.     
We have also built up expertise in preparing and presenting complex fraud cases for submission to the police to ensure cases are accepted and investigated where they may have otherwise been rejected. 

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Technology is improving the services we offer to clients, particular when it comes to investigating financial fraud.  The advances in technology often mean an investigation is cheaper than it once was when man power was the most important element. 
Furthermore, the advances in investigation capability, from tracking emails, individuals and information, increases on a daily basis. It’s essential for our clients that we keep up with all investigative developments.
Information can be shared securely in an instant which enables us to provide investigative advice and legal input from anywhere in the world which in certain cases is often required urgently. 

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

The service we offer is of huge benefit to our corporate clients due to the deterrent effect of prosecutions.  Some of our corporate clients, who have been the victims of persistent financial fraud and where the police will no longer take on their cases, have found that by instigating private prosecutions they send out an important deterrent message to employees, stakeholders, joint-venture partners and the public. It shows that they have a zero tolerance approach to fraud committed against them and as a result we have found that instances of criminal conduct against them have decreased rapidly, leading to an increase in profits and protection of their brand image. 
In a particular case that we have dealt with recently, the CEO of a corporate had been defrauding the company in a number of ways and this became common knowledge - both within and outside of the company. There was also regulatory interest taken. It was important for the company that it reassured stakeholders, shareholders, employees and the regulator that it was taking a strong position on the fraud. The company wished to draw a line under the fraud, note a change in the corporate structure and governance and send out a message to all those that dealt with the company. Although the police turned the case away, a private prosecution was undertaken. One of the advantages of prosecuting privately was that the company was in control of the pace of the investigation and prosecution. The investigation did not drag on for years, thus constantly reminding shareholders that a fraud investigation (the results of which were unknown) was on foot. This increased shareholder and regulator confidence that the new management board would deal with things swiftly and properly.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms - where do you see the firm in three years’time?

As mentioned, we see the area of private prosecutions to be a growing area which will increase due to a further decrease in state resources.  We therefore see the firm increasing significantly over the next three years to keep up with a growing demand for private prosecution services.
By the time clients come to us, they are looking for innovation and creativity.  More and more clients are looking to us to consider a more global approach in the investigation and prosecution of crime.  For example, clients will expect us to have an awareness of how the story of fraud will play out in the media, how to protect their image, how it will effect market share in other jurisdictions and how shareholders will react to the fraud upon the company. 
We are also expected to fully understand and be able to advise on how any private prosecution will interact with ongoing or anticipated civil proceedings.  Clients may also be looking for funding options and guidance on the overall strategic approach to litigation.  Other firms are also increasingly looking to us for input on the strategic direction of a particular case. We spend a lot of time advising on how to run criminal and civil proceedings in tandem; this is an exceptionally useful litigation tool in the right kind of case.    
We expect that we will continue to be the market leader in this area as we have built up a wealth of experience since setting up in 2012.  Our unique ability to focus solely on this area enables our lawyers to deal with complex prosecutorial decisions on a day-to-day basis.  The scope and complexity of our investigations will increase as people turn away from agencies which investigate serious fraud and state sector reliance decreases.  

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