Texas high court: Shell FCPA report to DOJ is 'absolutely privileged'

The FCPA Blog
05.18.15
In this article, Austen Walsh and Marc Alain Bohn discuss the Texas Supreme Court's recent opinion in Shell Oil Co. v. Writt. The court found that an internal investigation report that Shell provided to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding potential FCPA violations cannot be used to form the basis of a defamation claim. "At a time when the DOJ and [Securities and Exchange Commission] have become increasingly vocal in calling for companies under investigation to secure and provide evidence of individual culpability, a decision that did not provide Shell with an absolute privilege could have had a far-reaching impact on how companies conduct internal investigations and cooperate with enforcement authorities," the authors said. "As it stands, the Texas Supreme Court’s decision in Shell Oil Co. v. Writt may incentivize cooperation by companies in the early stages of the enforcement process by providing certainty to potential corporate defendants, particularly those located in Texas, that good faith efforts to disclose the results of internal investigations and expose individual culpability will not leave them open to defamation claims."
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