A practice specialising in International Organisations Law requires international specialists

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As a highly regarded set of legal professionals, focusing on International Organisations Law, Bretton Woods Law only ever invites the highest calibre to join them. Not only do they expect first class qualifications and relevant experience, they also look for people who have a truly international approach to life both personally and professionally. It is this understanding and empathy with different countries and cultures, which helps Bretton Woods Law achieve its high level of success as well as being able to treat each client as an individual. Accordingly, Bretton Woods Law was delighted to welcome their new colleague Alex Haines to join their team, as he has a genuine international pedigree.

Alex’s impressive qualifications include a LLB in Law and French Law from the University of Exeter, a Master’s in International and European Law from Université de Rennes in France and the Bar Vocational Course from the Inns of Court School of Law in London; equally striking is his international experience and background.

Alex was brought up fluent in both English and French, and it is this cosmopolitan upbringing that Alex believes gave him his passion for not only international law, but also international life. His education at the European School in Oxford had a distinct international flavour, being taught in three languages including Spanish, as well as exposing him to a wide range of cultures. He is now also fluent in Spanish, no doubt helped by his time spent travelling through South America.

Alex’s international background clearly has had an effect on his professional life. After his studies he worked for the Prosecution Division of the International Criminal Court on a Congolese war crimes case, which only consolidated his wish to work in international law.

Since joining Bretton Woods Law, Alex’s true sense of the ‘international’ has come to the fore. Travelling around the globe representing International Civil Servants who are facing employment issues, he faces varying approaches, languages and cultures on a daily basis, all of which he takes in his stride, no doubt due to his international upbringing. This innate empathy with different nationalities enables Alex to defend the people he represents against large international organisations with a very human approach – and not treat every single client the same.

The same can be said for his work when working alongside companies who have been accused of fraud on projects funded by multilateral development banks. His ability to carry out his investigations and research involves dealing with clients and banks from around the world, his cultural sensitivity and international experience is all highly advantageous and benefits clients and colleagues alike.

Alex is a true global citizen and passionately believes in effectively and professionally defending his clients, whether they are International Civil Servants or companies accused of fraud or corruption by multilateral development banks – wherever in the world they might be.


Square peg in a round hole – lawyer or accountant?

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Question: When companies realise they have a corruption and/or compliance issue – who should they call?

Answer: The person who can serve them best.

Admittedly a rather simplistic answer to a more complex question, but in truth the reality is that simple. These two professions obviously have advantages specific to their skill set, and the best solution is to identify the exact nature of your compliance and corruption problem and then hire the appropriate professionals. Obviously depending on the particular nature of the case, it could be wise to actually employ both, but ensure each is approaching the problem from the angle that best suits their skills.

So why a lawyer over an accountant? Lawyers are obviously trained to understand and interpret the law and to evaluate evidence; all of which are essential skills when dealing with accusations from, for example, the World Bank that a company or its employees have engaged in fraudulent or corrupt practices on Bank financed contracts.  But what truly sets lawyers apart from other professionals, such as accountants or former law enforcement officers, is that Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) attaches to communications between them and their clients.  LPP means that communications between a client and his lawyer in respect of giving or receiving legal advice cannot be disclosed by the lawyer in the absence of the client’s permission; such communications are in general sacrosanct.  In contrast, communications between a client and his accountant or for that matter any professional other than a lawyer are not privileged and may result in the non-lawyer having to disclose or report to others what he finds.

The benefits of LPP are multi-fold, but primarily this privilege engenders free-flowing communication between all parties involved, which helps speed up resolution and ensures confidentiality. This ability to have honest and open discussions should not be under-valued, as it is vital to a company’s future success, as it fast-tracks problem solving and putting the appropriate procedures in place to limit any further corruption within the company.

Accountants and former law enforcement officers are of course vital resources at times, they are highly skilled at flagging up suspicious transactions, accounts and offices, and can also assist in improving a company’s compliance programme. Yet the ability to talk freely is probably the strongest tool a company has for uncovering and fixing any corruption issues they might have, and without it the consequences could prove to be a lot more serious.

In short, when faced with corruption and compliance issues emanating from the multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank Group, go to a lawyer who specialises in the relevant field, such as those found within Bretton Woods Law.